Because the living green and organic phase has turned out to be more of a lifestyle choice than a passing trend, here we’ll offer tips on how to create eco-friendly play areas for children in and around your neighborhood or backyard.

1. Prep the spot: Before digging or placing anything substantial over an area of land, dial 811 to reach The Common Ground Alliance, a Michigan state organization. This is the national public service number that will let a person know if there are any utilities or pipes in the place you are considering. Then determine the size of the play area by bending decking material into the shape you want around the area to make a safe, but obvious edge. Fasten the border ends together with screws. Fill this area with Fibar or other playground wood chip material.

2. Have shade: You’ll want to plant at least one shade tree for children to play under during particularly hot Detroit summer days. Dig a medium hole about a foot in length and depth and set a half grown tree inside, covering the base with soil and water. If the playground area is large enough, pick up two baby trees to plant in alternating corners.

3. Add appropriate pieces: Depending on the locale and the age of the children to whom you are trying to cater, the types of pieces for your playground will vary. A slide is one of the most expected items and of course swing sets are a must. A bench or tire swing could bring a vintage feel to the play set and could be less expensive. A sandbox is easy to construct and can capture hours of attention at a time for one through 12 year olds. Not many playgrounds provide a seesaw these days, which is why we suggest putting one in yours. Seesaws are fun and “accidentally” educational.  Have children add a special design or symbol to the long planks of the seesaw to let them exercise their artistic chops while also allowing them to feel involved in the building process.

4. Maintain your playground: After about a year of weathering the outside Michigan elements with the addition of normal wear and tear from children, some repair and tweaks will surely need to be made. Set a periodic and fairly consistent schedule for maintenance like tightening bolts, replacing screws, re-sanding wood surfaces and pruning any foliage. Additionally, it’s worth it to clear away rocks and other foreign objects from the playground floor on a regular basis.

5. Take a shortcut: If all this sounds like too much for you, there is another option: Buy a playground kit. There are a number of kits available and many of them include a slide, swings and tower and have fairly easy assembly. Sets usually range from $150 to $2,000. Really, there is no harm in buying a kit instead of building everything from the ground up. A playground is a playground, and as long as it is a safe place where kids can make friends and memories, you would be doing the community a great service in providing one.

Below are some local businesses to help you get started:

Paul’s Tree Service
20881 Boening Drive
Southfield, MI 48075
(248) 352-0263

Hours: Call for appointment

Paul’s Tree Service in Southfield will give you a good deal on kid-friendly mulch.

Barson’s Greenhouse
6414 Merriman Road
Westland, MI 48185 (Merriman Road between Warren Road and Ford Road)
(734) 421-5959

Barson’s has a great nursery with a wide selection of baby trees.

Lozon’s Ace Hardware
10563 W Jefferson Ave.
River Rouge, MI 48218
(313) 841-2940

Hours: Wed to Fri – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For painting outside wood surfaces, pick up a latex, semi gloss paint from Lozon’s Ace Hardware.

Related: Poll: Americans Embrace ‘Do It Yourself’ Lifestyle In 2012

For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit CBSDetroit/YourHome.

Sakina Al-Amin writes regularly for an accumulating number of online publications, but has dreams of one day being a spokesperson. She resides in the metro Detroit area with her husband. Her work can be found at