The Importance of Landscaping in Playground Design
The playground landscape is a key consideration when planning and overseeing the design process. A design incorporating appealing visuals and natural elements might draw in more community members to the playground.
When looking through various playground area ideas, think about the needs of your community and how many kids will be using the playground. Whether you plan to build near a park or in an urban environment, use the landscape to your advantage when creating an appealing design.
Read on or skip ahead to a specific section:
- Creating Visual Appeal in Playground Design
- Understanding the User Group
- Incorporating Different Styles of Play
- Connecting the Playground to Nature
- Creating Sensory Experiences
- Providing Spaces for Rest
- Improving Safety
Creating Visual Appeal in Playground Design
A well-designed playground can visually enhance public spaces in your community. Playgrounds may also boost the local economy and raise the property value of nearby homes. Utilize bright colors to create visual interest or build your playground surrounding different themes to encourage imaginative play in kids. For example, you can make a forest-themed playground in a park with lots of foliage and natural plant life. Or you can design a pirate-ship-themed playground in an area that’s near a lake or a water park.
Play spaces can improve the community in urban or public environments. The existence of public parks and playgrounds is known to help reduce crime by giving at-risk kids a place to play and receive community support. Visitors can also build close friendships and burn off energy while playing.
Play areas can improve a kid’s quality of life by bettering their mental and physical health through thrilling play designs and stimulating social interactions. While creating a strong sense of community and positive peer interaction, kids can form long-lasting friendships while playing. A safer play area might also bring the surrounding neighbors together.
By enhancing your playground’s landscaping, you create an attractive space that will welcome the surrounding community in, where they can enjoy those benefits.
Understanding the User Group
Understanding the local area can help inform your playground design and generate new ideas for the space and equipment. First, get to know your user group. Find out what age groups are most likely to use your playground and whether or not you’ll be designing for an urban, suburban or rural area.
If young kids and their caregivers use the playground, consider interactive landscape designs for toddlers and preschoolers. Winding walking paths encourage kids to develop their motor skills while they explore with a grownup.
If the playground is used by tweens who need an after-school or summer space, evaluate their specific needs and what might engage them intellectually outside of class. Use plants to encourage visitors to learn more about local greenery.
Reflecting the Local Community
Ask the community what playground landscaping ideas they have. If they have specific needs or wants in mind, you can create a design based on the local area and use the community as an inspiration.
A playground can be designed to reflect unique elements, such as regional references, local animals, plant life, architecture or historical buildings. Design interactive displays where local artists can share their work or contribute to the playground with their iconic influence. The local history of the area might also serve as inspiration. Kids can learn about their community’s history while playing and building friendships.
Incorporating Different Styles of Play
Landscaping and design can account for different styles of play that kids may be interested in. Create separate areas within your playground using landscaping to appeal to kids’ needs and moods:
- Active play: Encourage active play by using engineered wood fiber in areas where kids may be moving, or utilize hills in the area to increase physical activity. Active play can promote healthy living during development and assist with balance and coordination skills.
- Social play: Inspire social play through soccer fields or sandy play areas where kids can communicate with one another. Kids may enjoy working with peers to build castles in designated sand pits or play a ball game on the grass.
- Quiet play: Quiet play areas are great for kids who enjoy independent problem-solving and creative skill-building. Natural barriers like trees or large bushes can encourage self-acceptance and self-realization during development by providing a restful place for kids to play.
- Group play: Group play can include two or more kids working together at activities or playing on equipment. Such play helps to teach communication, leading and following, cooperation and problem-solving. Teach leading and following through natural mazes of trees or bushes throughout the park, or encourage creative group play with large grassy areas.
Connecting the Playground to Nature
Effective landscaping allows a playground to connect seamlessly to nature by incorporating natural colors and textures in its design. If your play area exists in a local park or a forest area, you can utilize natural elements in your design, such as plant materials or plant-inspired equipment that looks like trees, bushes or logs.
There is also the option to work around existing plant life and natural foliage. Use trees to provide natural shading. By using the nature that’s already around the play space, you can save on bringing in new features.
Creating Sensory Experiences
Sensory playground designs can stimulate the senses and promote childhood development. Including different sensory experiences for kids with disabilities or autism who are easily overstimulated ensures kids of all abilities can play. Sensory designs engage the senses through sight, touch and hearing.
For those kids who need sensory stimulation, colorful and textured landscaping features can help emotional development. And bird-friendly bushes and trees can add audio and visual sensory experiences to the playground. You can also include sensory landscape additions like bush mazes or paths that mimic the natural landscape to enhance the visual experience and engage the tactile senses.
Providing Spaces for Rest
Landscape architects can thoughtfully include rest areas for kids and parents in their playground designs. Rest areas are a great addition to a play area and allow adults to comfortably and easily supervise their kids. To incorporate the landscape of the area into a rest area, consider using bushes to separate the space, or build benches and picnic tables near a natural lake or river.
Rest spaces are also helpful for kids who need to take breaks after playtime. Overstimulated kids or kids with sensory needs can take time to rest in a quiet area that is not visually or audibly overwhelming. Caregivers can also encourage their kids to take breaks from energetic play to eat food, put on sunscreen or chat.
Shades help lower the temperature when the weather is warm and reduce the heat of equipment like slides and climbers and surfaces like benches. The landscape design can utilize natural trees and foliage to integrate helpful shades into the existing playground. Consider growing more trees around the play and rest areas to optimize shade.
A thoughtful playground design should always include safety considerations. Making the playground both enjoyable and safe for kids to play in results in a community area that benefits all involved. When utilizing safe equipment or looking for playground surfacing, pay attention to the surfaces, spacing and user group of the equipment and materials.
Safe surfaces are reliable materials that kids can easily play on. These might include engineered wood fiber, rubber mulch or poured-in-place rubber.
When considering the landscape of your playground, try to blend the surfacing with the local area. If you are building in an urban space, consider using sidewalks. If your playground exists within a park, you can use grassy pathways or wood chips.
Use hardscaping features like fences to help keep kids from wandering away from the playground area. You should especially add fences to your playground design if it’s close to a busy road or a body of water.
Design Your Next Playground With Miracle® Recreation
At Miracle Recreation, we believe that an excellent playground design can shape kids’ futures for the better. Our innovative and eco-friendly playgrounds encourage thrilling and challenging play while building self-confidence in kids and strong friendships within the community. Miracle offers various unique structures and equipment for your school, park, church or commercial needs. Browse our playground equipment online or contact a representative to receive a quote.
At Miracle Recreation, we’re aware of the ongoing debate in the autism community over the use of identity-first (autistic person) and person-first (person with autism) language. We understand the choice is a highly personal one, especially for individuals in the autism community, so we’ve decided to use a combination of person-first and identity-first language.