Avoid These Playground Planning Mistakes

There is a lot to take in when planning a playground whether it’s for a school, park, church, or child care facility. Playgrounds add tremendous value to communities by providing a place for children to play and community connections to grow. That’s why it’s important to avoid playground planning mistakes when creating a playground for communities with such diverse groups of children and adults in your community to enjoy. Here are three playground planning mistakes to avoid during the planning phase of your new playground.

Not Planning for the Right Age Groups

It’s easy to get caught up in the attraction and aesthetics of a well-designed playground, but it’s important to make sure great looking playgrounds are designed with the right playground elements and activities that fit the needs of the children that will be playing on the playground. A common playground planning mistake is not considering the need for age-appropriate play. For example, if you’re designing a playground for school-age children ages 5-12 years old, you are more likely to have taller slides, climbers, and more sophisticated activity panels than a playground for children ages 2-5 years old.

Age-Appropriate Play

Ages 6-23 months, 2-5 years, and 5-12 years old are the three different age groups of commercial playground equipment as recommended by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS). Play environments for ages 6-23 months offer children space to move around freely and explore. Children ages 2-5 years old enjoy spaces with smaller steps, shallow fall heights, and crawlable equipment such as tubes and dramatic play areas such as trike tracks. For school-age 5-12 years old it’s appropriate to create a playground structure that includes horizontal bars, slides, and climbers.

Not Budgeting Enough for Adequate Playground Surfacing

According to research, more than 70% of playground injuries are caused by falling. So more than landscaping and aesthetics of a playground, playground surfacing is pivotal to help protect children in the event of a fall. 

How Much Does Playground Surfacing Cost?

Playground surfacing, depending on the type of surfacing, can have a wide price point. Typical playground surfacing costs approximately 20% to 50% of the total playground cost. The most economical surfacing type is engineered wood fiber. Engineered wood fiber can provide protection for falls up to 10 feet high on the playground. The most requested playground surfacing is poured-in-place/EPDM surfacing. EPDM can be designed to meet any safety standard and design aesthetic you playground environment has. Themed playgrounds usually incorporate EPDM safety surfacing to add to the experience.

Don’t make this common playground planning mistake by not budgeting enough for your playground’s safety surfacing.

Not Including Accessibility and Inclusion Features

Communities, schools, child care facilities, and churches are diverse gathering places. It only makes sense that outdoor playground equipment for children is inclusive for every child no matter age or ability. Making a playground accessible and inclusive are two different things. An accessible playground is one that has accessibility features that some children are able to utilize. Inclusive playgrounds are spaces where every child has access to every activity whether it’s at ground level or on the playground deck.

How to Make Playgrounds Inclusive

Inclusive playgrounds, playgrounds that every child can play on no matter his or her ability is, can be achieved with the proper planning. Inclusive playgrounds are achieved by incorporating several access points such as ADA ramps and climbers and plenty of activities throughout the space that any child can play with. For an example of a great inclusive playground, check out the space we created at Myrtle Wilks Community Center.

Ready to plan your playground with the best in Texas without these common playground mistakes? Contact us today!

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