Interesting start. I think you need to look at higher level combinations and/or replacement. For example : A birdfeeder gives neighboring garden tiles a bonus because the birds help control insects. Or a BBQ that replaces a deck tile but needs a deck on any side. You have the framework of something here. Look into Cellular Automata and Conways Game Of Life and I hope that gives you some ideas.
Printable Game: Yard Builder
A downloadable game
A tile-laying, yard-building game for the whole family.
This is a prototype that is pretty fun with kids, but is lacking some depth that I can't quite figure out how to add, yet. Feel free to print it, try it out, and let me know what you think!
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Cool thanks for the feedback! There already are bonus tiles though... the park bench already works as you describe the birdfeeder (giving a bonus to adjacent garden tiles). The BBQ doesn't *replace* a deck tile — that would suck to draw a BBQ before you had a deck already — but it does count as a deck tile, and gives a bonus to your entire deck.
From our first few playtests, it became clear that more interaction between players would be ideal, but I couldn't figure out how to make that happen...