Having a garden for your children to play in is wonderful, but it can be tricky to remember that when you look out over your lawn and see toys strewn everywhere.
If you’re reaching your wits’ end, it’s time to bring new strategies to managing your kids’ outdoor clutter.
Outdoor Kid’s Toy Storage Ideas
Whether your priority is style, fun or simplicity, we’ve scouted a whole bunch of ways you can approach garden toy storage – leave us a comment telling us your favourite!
1. Plastic baskets
Plastic baskets are the first stepping stone when it comes to garden toy storage ideas and organisation. A mesh design will help everyone see what’s in each box (no more rooting through everything just to find that one ball), and won’t fill with water when the weather is bad. Depending on where you’ll be keeping the baskets, you might want to look for ones that stack, or have clip-on lids.
2. Outdoor toy chests
Outdoor toy chests are another great way to store garden games and equipment. Just consider the size and strength of your kids when choosing your chest, and think about whether they will be able to get safely toys out for themselves.
3. Giant toy buckets
If you’ve got quite a lot of bulky items, giant toy buckets can keep you sane. They’re great for seasonal storage and keep everything off the ground and in one place (more or less). If these big crates have wheels, even better.
4. Open-faced storage that stacks
Short on square-footage? Open-faced storage that stacks will minimise the amount of room toys take up, but allows easy access without having to shuffle everything around whenever the must-have item is in the bottom box. If you have several kids at different ages, try to keep the appropriate toys at eye-height or lower to save little ones reaching higher than is safe.
This photo is from the at Charlotte’s house blog, and shows how a little bit of customising can go a long way when it comes to outdoor toy storage ideas. It’s a weatherproof unit with easy access hinged doors.
5. Under-bench storage
Under-bench storage is slick, sophisticated and practically invisible. These IKEA benches are super practical, offering a stylish place to sit, handles and wheels to move them around AND internal storage for stashing toys when it’s time for the grown-ups to hang out.
6. Dedicated cabinet
Try having a dedicated cabinet for kids’ stuff. If you organise the shelves inside using smaller storage baskets and boxes (remember to label them!), it will – in theory – reduce the likelihood of it turning into a chaotic free-for-all through the seasons.
If you have older children or teenagers, try storing things like sports equipment and games where they can see it and easily access it for themselves. As they say, out of sight, out of mind, and you might discover old bits getting used more frequently than if you keep them in a cupboard or out of reach.
7. Open storage
Open storage, using pegs and bungees is a simple, low-cost way of doing this in a garage. Any mesh basket or crate will do the trick, too.
8. Play sheds
Okay, time for my favourite ideas for keeping outdoor toys tidy! If your kids already have a great imagination, you might actually be able to sneak organisation into their play.
For example, maybe you’re near the beach, and have an abundance of buckets, spades, rakes and other toy tools. Get your little one their own play shed and let them organise their equipment just like their mummy and daddy do in the adult shed. This cute “clubhouse” uses a kid-friendly peg board and the TROFAST drawer unit from IKEA to keep things tidy.
9. Lean-to shelter
Try building a simple lean-to to provide sheltered storage for ride-on toys. Branding it a “garage” makes it fun for younger kids to “park” in. Try creating individual parking spots for specific toys, or for each of your children to have a personal space.
10. Garden playhouse
Miscellaneous toys? Any garden playhouse can be adapted to store toys. Give your kids mini versions of whatever storage you use indoors – shelves, baskets, pegboards, cupboards – and let them incorporate tidying into their play. Take a look at some playhouse ideas for inspiration!
11. Toy sheds and garages
Sheds and garages offer lots of opportunities to try new garden toy storage ideas, especially when the weather is bad or you want a tidy lawn. However, keep in mind that your garage or shed can be pretty dangerous for unwitting kids, and that stashing toys inside is also a shortcut to organisational chaos (in a space that’s supposed to be functional).
12. Fixed racks
If you can, install shelves and fixed racks to keep toys off the floor from the get-go, but remember that anything that might be attractive to kids should be within easy reach so they’re not tempted to climb. Store anything hazardous in opaque boxes, well out of sight of little ones.
Toy buckets, baskets and mesh bins are ideal storage. A pro tip you’ll thank us for later? Label everything clearly!
We mentioned bungee storage, hooks and pegs earlier. These options are great for oddly-shaped sports equipment that you just want out of the way.
13. Overhead rack
An alternative to this is an overhead net or rack, that hangs close to the ceiling. This is best for large light-weight toys like balls, inflatables, pool noodles and sports padding.
With any toy storage inside a garage or shed, put it close to the safest entrance. This is so, even if they’re old enough to fetch equipment themselves, children aren’t tempted to venture further in. It’s also wide to keep the shed or garage locked, so that your kids always have to ask you for the key and alert you that they’re going in.
General Toy Storage Tips
Organising similar toys together makes it easier for you and your little ones to find what they’re looking for quickly. It also reduces the chance of you buying duplicates, and makes it way easier to see when it’s time for a clear out.
Bring seasonal toys to the front. It’s not practical to always have every toy to hand. Prioritise easy-access for whatever bits and pieces your children are going to get the most out of each season: paddling pools and water-pistols in summer, sledges and skis in winter.
Too many toys? Limit their choice, and keep rotating every 3-6 months.
Instead of having every toy and game available (often paralysing decision-making), put half or three-quarters into the loft or garage. It’ll mean the toys that are available are more likely to get played with AND when your kids start to get bored, you can swap for old stuff, rather than always buying new – this tip works great for indoors too!
Declutter every season. Another benefit to circulating toys; if you notice there are some things that are simply not being played with, it’s time to donate them instead of storing them.
You can even make it a teaching moment – encourage your kids to identify items they don’t want to play with any more and would rather give to another little girl or boy.
Not only will it help them learn to assess what they no longer need (and get rid of sustainably), it can prevent the huge tantrums that come from unexpectedly losing something against their will.
Give each child a dedicated spot. Even if a lot of your outdoor toys are intended for everyone to share, it’s natural for brothers and sisters to occasionally get a bit possessive (at any age)!
In addition to whatever mass storage you choose, let each of your children have their own named bucket for favourite personal toys that don’t come in the house.
If the volume of toys in your house seems to fluctuate a lot, invest in collapsible storage so you can fold away excess baskets or tubs when they’re not needed. When there’s a sudden influx of new things (birthdays and Christmas, we’re looking at you), you can whip extra storage out and stay one step ahead of the clutter.
What are your favourite garden toy storage ideas? Do you have any secrets to keeping a tidy garden? We’d love to know!