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A Guide to Planning and Designing a Custom Playground


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Parks and playgrounds are vital to a community’s health and well-being. Without these outdoor play structures, there would be less social interaction, less time spent outdoors and a lack of safe places to run and play. From splash pads to dog parks to inclusive playgrounds, these recreational spaces are the fabric of our communities.

If you have the responsibility of planning a custom playground design, you may be wondering how to make your vision come alive. Below is a quick and simple guide that will help you plan and design the best playground for your community.

Who will be using my playground?

Children play differently depending on their age and abilities. A playground designed for 2-5year-olds won’t appeal to 12 year-olds, and vice versa. Also, your playground should have equipment that is accessible to children of all abilities. To ensure there’s an activity for every child to enjoy, it’s best to choose inclusive playground equipment with progressive levels of challenge.

How much space is available?

When planning a park for your community, you must consider the space you have available. In suburban and rural areas, there’s often more green space to work with, allowing you to have various sections to your park. Urban playgrounds typically have less space to work with, though there are still creative ways to make the most of your playground design.

What type of playground equipment should I choose?

Selecting the right playground equipment is essential. If your equipment isn’t fun and engaging, kids won’t ask to play at your park. The good news is that today’s equipment is limitless. Aside from the basics like swings and slides, you can also add crawl tubes, balance beams, rope netting, zip lines, theme components and sensory equipment. It is important to have play components that provide various levels of challenge so children can progress and develop their physical capabilities.

What surfacing options are there?

Playground surfacing is important for aesthetic and safety purposes. There are many surfacing options available, so think beyond the traditional engineered wood fiber. For example, poured in place rubber is soft, colorful and ADA approved.Synthetic turf gives a neighborhood park a warm, welcoming feel with excellent drainage capabilities. This post describes playground safety surfacing in more detail.

What is the timeframe and budget for my project?

The cost and timeline that a new playground requires depends on a variety of factors. Remember there is more than play equipment costs. You will also have site preparation, freight, installation and safety surfacing costs associated with your playground project. For turnaround times, estimate a minimum of six to eight weeks depending on the park’s complexity and time of year. You can also build your park in phases if needed to accommodate budget restrictions.

Working with the right playground equipment supplier ensures your project is completed on time, within your budget and installed to the highest standards. To discuss your playground project, contact Cunningham Recreation today.