At the beginning of the playground planning process, it helps to clearly outline what your goals are for the project, as well as whether your city or school has any restrictions that need to be taken into consideration. If you’re wondering how to plan a playground and where to start, having a general idea of these five things will help you decide what direction to take your playground.
1.. Who Will Use the Playground?
Knowing who the playground is intended for will help you decide what type of equipment to install. Children play differently and are at various levels of development at different ages. For instance, a playground designed for a 5-year-old won’t appeal to a 12-year-old, and might not be the appropriate size for them. Likewise, toddlers and younger children will have difficulty using playground equipment designed for 5- or 7-year-olds.
You also want to consider the abilities of the people who will be using the playground equipment. As of 2011, all public playground facilities need to comply with the guidelines set forth under the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.
The guidelines require a playground to have equipment that is accessible to and usable by people of all abilities. Specifically, at least one of each type of ground-level play equipment needs to be accessible. If there are elevated structures, at least half of them must be able to be accessed via a ramp or similar piece of equipment. The playground’s surface must provide adequate cushioning for falls, and must also be able to accommodate wheelchairs.
Along with the age and ability levels of the children who will use the playground, another important step involved in playground planning is to consider the number of kids who will use the equipment at any time. Will there be entire classrooms full of children using the playground during recess or after school, or do you expect a smaller crowd to be on the equipment at a time?
2.How Much Space Do You Have?
When planning a playground for your city or town, consider the space allotted for the playground. Do you have a lot of room or just a small area that can be dedicated to the playground? Will your playground consist of multiple zones or areas designated for specific age groups?
One thing to keep in mind when building a community playground is that the playground area extends beyond the equipment itself. You’ll also want to provide a cushioned surface that goes beyond the bounds of the playground structures. Usually, you’ll want to allow for at least 6 feet of cushioned surfacing beyond the edge of the equipment. In the case of slides and swings, surfacing a larger area is usually recommended.
3. Are You Building From Scratch or Adding on to an Existing Playground?
Another thing worth considering before you begin a project is whether you’re starting completely from scratch, renovating existing equipment or adding features to a play area and leaving the older equipment intact.
If you’re renovating an older playground, are there any elements you’d like to keep or would you like a complete revamping of all equipment? If you’re adding on to an existing playground, how much space do you have between structures? You might not have that much freedom to add on to a playground if space is at a premium.