Thinking of Building a Playground? Here’s How to Get Started

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Modern playground equipment
Image via General Recreation

If you’re thinking of building a playground in your community or school, you’ll need a vision and a systematic approach to get things started, according to General Recreation Inc. in Newtown Square.

 You’re going to want a play environment that offers maximum play value to users and safety for visitors while minimizing the lifetime cost for the owner.

Ideally, your playground will complement your community’s unique personality and be a destination for years to come.

Get started by defining the objectives for your project.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What are the ages and abilities of the visitors who will use this play area?  Consider designing separate play areas for younger and older kids, and perhaps teens and adults.
  • Will your plan involve an all-inclusive play area that will accommodate children of all abilities or just the minimum amount of accessibility to meet the ADA requirements?
  • How many visitors will typically be playing at once? 
  • Are there unique historical characteristics, a color scheme, or a theme you’d like to incorporate?
  • What additional amenities are desirable?  Possible items may include shade, benches, waste receptacles, picnic tables, signage, fencing, parking, etc.
  • Which members of the community could or should be involved in the playground planning, funding, fundraising, installation, and maintenance?

You might want to consult with potential users of the playground as well as maintenance personnel, local parents, community groups, the local park board, and other stakeholders.

Budget considerations

Start to get budgetary estimates for your playground. General Recreation representatives can help you determine costs for equipment, freight costs, installation, site work, drainage considerations, safety surfacing, etc.

Where will your funds come from? Do you need to consider additional fundraising and are there any grants available?

Site Analysis

What are the characteristics of your site?  Do you have man-made and/or natural elements?

Work with a design professional, landscape architect or consultant to analyze your site.

Start sketching ideas on a sheet of paper. Eventually, you’ll need a scale drawing of the area from a professional designer or General Recreation sales consultant.

You’ll also need to check with your local utility company to locate water, sewer, gas, and power lines.

Design your site and playground

Now it’s time to create a detailed budget and an exciting detailed playground design.

  • Would you like your playground to look modern, blend in with the environment or carry out a theme?
  • Include a variety of play components for a wide range of activities and play opportunities.
  • Incorporate educational elements such as learning panels and signage.
  • How susceptible will the area be to vandalism or misuse?
  • Incorporate accessible surfacing around inclusive elements and an accessible path to access the play area.
  • Design for future phases to make it easier to enhance your playground and keep it exciting and fresh for users.

Before finalizing your design and placing any orders, carefully review the design specifications and obtain any required approvals.

Install your playground

Installing your playground is exciting and can involve your community members. A benefit of including the community is that it creates a sense of pride and ownership, and may reduce future vandalism.

You can have volunteers do the installation under the supervision of a professional installer.

Another option is to have the playground installed by a professionally insured certified crew.

Ready to open

When your playground is ready for public use, organize a grand opening party to welcome visitors and thank all those involved in the process. Grand openings are a great way to build community pride and celebrate all the work that went into creating the new play area.

The cost and frequency of inspections and maintenance vary depending on the equipment and products you purchase as well as the surfacing material(s) that are chosen.

Read more about building a playground at General Recreation.

About General Recreation

General Recreation Inc. serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and has helped hundreds of community leaders and organizations build playgrounds that are safe, aesthetically pleasing, and made to last.

General Recreation projects are supported by expert and trusted services, including site evaluation, playground design, installation, and community build services.

Whether your playground will consist of an outdoor playground at a preschool or a large community playground, experienced commercial playground experts will help you every step of the way. Find out more about the work of General Recreation.

Find out more about General Recreation.

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