Commercial Playground Equipment Planning Guide:
CHOOSING THE LOCATION OF YOUR PLAYGROUND
TO BUILD AN OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND THAT KIDS WILL LOVE, CHOOSING AN IDEAL LOCATION IS VITAL TO THE PLAYGROUND PLANNING PROCESS.
This is a part of our playground planning guide, to read about planning a budget and other playground essentials to consider, read Commercial Playground Equipment Planning Guide – Budget And Playground Essentials.
Planning a playground takes a great deal of organization — it’s never as cut and dry of choosing an outdoor playset, though we would all love it to be so simple. Like any other major renovation project, all the key details build upon each other until you have the beautiful end result of an outdoor playground that kids will laugh and have fun on for years to come.
First, it’s immersing yourself in the thick of outdoor playground equipment which is learning the ins and outs of playground components. To get a comprehensive guide to what our ball maze panel is or the difference between a wave and a double slide is, read up on all the important information that will help move planning your playground in the right direction with The Ultimate Guide To Commercial Playground Components.
After you familiarize yourself with playground components, you have a better idea of what your facility needs and how large it needs to be. After all, there is a large difference between our Benedict Canyon and Figgs Landing outdoor playgrounds — one is mid-size and can accommodate a maximum of 34 kids, while the other offers many ground-level playground components for all abilities and has the ability to house a maximum of 53 kids.
All of this information is crucial to planning your outdoor playground, and most importantly, it will dictate your budget. So, once you know what playground components you’ll need, who it will be able to accommodate, and the size, you can then look towards the location of your playground.
If you think that the location is the easy part of outdoor playground planning, this guide is for you! Just like all the other details in planning a playground — even if you’ve had an outdoor playground site picked out for years — there are a whole host of factors that you’ll need to consider, and we’ll examine all of those here!
Let’s get started and explore how to plan and choose the location of your outdoor playground:
Location Foundations In Planning An Outdoor Playground
Where do you begin in choosing a location for your outdoor playground? Many assume you map out a point that makes sense and works best with what you’ve got! But, there is a better more thorough approach when it comes to planning the site of your outdoor playset. Below is a list of factors to consider when planning the location of your playground.
Choosing The Site Of Your Outdoor Playground
Have an idea of where to build the playground
Assess the topography
Have the land and soil evaluated
Examine the community impact
Plan for any needed utilities
Ensure its accessibility for all kids
Factor in any liability concerns
THE SITE OF YOUR OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND
Having a general idea of where to build your outdoor playground is the first step — perhaps you own the land or the land belongs to another organization. It’s important to begin this process by making the necessary connections and reaching out to the landowner and coordinating schedules to figure out when you can stop by. If you’re partnering with someone else, it’s also important to walk through all the major construction details and really just involve them in the process.
If you own the land and you’re ready to move forward with an outdoor playground location, enlisting the advice, insight, and experiences of those who have planned and implemented a safe and fun playground is a great resource in helping you plan out your space.
When we plan a playground alone, especially for the first time, we’ll miss some important things, so having extra eyes on your plans can quickly flag potential issues and bring forward what needs to be prioritized.
One last factor to consider when choosing the site of your playground is, you may already have an existing playground that you’d like to renovate. So, can you renovate an outdated playground and build a new one on the same site?
Absolutely! Many places renovate old playground sites to update and breathe life into the play area! Safety is always at the pillar of building an outdoor playground, so you’ll need to have it evaluated for safety and take most of the same steps in planning and building it, as you would in a new playground.
Considering The Topography Of Your Outdoor Playground Site
When we refer to the topography of your playground site, we’re referring to the layout of the land that encompasses both the natural and artificial features. In choosing a location for your outdoor playground, it’s good to have a mix of both elements.
You can even make the topography work for you! You can use elevated spaces to place higher decks instead of first leveling and then building on flat ground. On the other hand, knowing the level grade of the space is imperative and arguably the most important feature to consider when choosing the location of your playground — after all, you don’t want to create an uphill battle and build on land that is largely uneven. Instead, choosing an outdoor environment that doesn’t require major grading will benefit the project and save you time, energy, and money.
Let’s dive into land grading a bit more since it plays an extensive role in playground planning.
Land grading is done at an already excavated site and its purpose is to better level out the land that you’ll be building on. Land grading is an important step in playground planning because not only does it even out the land but it provides the area with proper drainage outlets to direct water away from the playground structure.
For example, if land grading is skipped and the area receives a good amount of rainfall or snow, water would accumulate towards the foundation of the outdoor playground, washing away any landscaping or playground surfacing causing potential structural damage to the playground and affecting the ground it’s on.
Land grading not only assures a solid foundation on which to build your outdoor playground but creates a long-term solution for water drainage in the playground environment.
The exception to total land grading is implementing outdoor playsets with ramps and playground components that take the topography into consideration and can make the unlevel ground work for it.
THE LAND AND SOIL OF AN OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND LOCATION
It’s crucial in playground planning to consider the land and soil of your location, because there are a myriad of factors that can affect the project including:
- Soil type
The three factors listed above influence the progress of your outdoor playground greatly! For example, there are unstable soil types such as peat, clay, loose silt, and fine water-bearing sands that can affect the integrity of your playground.
In terms of groundwater, it’s much easier and more affordable to build on top of the ground then to dig into it and build there, which is why it’s important to identify the groundwater location because it could potentially seep up and flood the playground.
While land grading will mitigate any drainage issues, it is important to identify these and ensure they’re addressed when and if any land grading is performed.
If you’re not sure who to get into contact with to address any land or soil issues, a great resource is a landscape architect who can identify any drainage or soil concerns or even a master gardener or someone from the Department of Agriculture.
THE COMMUNITY AND PLANNING YOUR PLAYGROUND
You may be planning a playground for the grounds of your facility or scouting out a location that has the most community impact, either way, kids from the entire community will be able to enjoy it!
Choosing a location that will best serve the community and the kids in it means choosing an outdoor playground location that can serve a large number of kids and within walking distance. Some good hubs include:
- Vasty populated areas with young families
- Open spaces
- Outdoor shopping areas
And, if you’re trying to raise money and budget for your new outdoor playground, the more the community is involved and can benefit from one in their area, the more likely you’ll find support.
UTILITIES IN PLAYGROUND PLANNING
Being able to identify utilities becomes a major factor in the location of your playground. Sure, you can see any powerlines above that you should avoid installing playground landscaping or high playground platforms near, but you also have to take into consideration of the utilities buried below.
If you’re not sure of the status of the utilities of your playground location, the encouraging news is your city likely offers free services to help identify them. For a comprehensive evaluation, consider contacting the following service providers:
While it’s a standard practice for most utility companies to identify evaluation upon an inspection, ensure they mark where any buried utilities are so you and those doing playground construction know exactly the areas to avoid.
ACCESSIBILITY IN YOUR PLAYGROUND LOCATION
Before you decide on the location of your playground, it’s important to consider the many facets of accessibility.
- Is it in a good location?
- Is there ample parking?
- Are there bathroom facilities nearby?
- Is there a water fountain?
- Are there shaded areas?
- Are there bike paths and sidewalks?
Another aspect to consider are the parents and caregivers who will be with the kids when they play, so it’s important to add features such as benches or picnic tables that they can enjoy while the kids play.
It’s also important to create a playground space with clear visibility for those to keep an eye on the children at play — this means keeping any tall trees neatly trimmed and adjusting your landscaping accordingly.
In addition to the overall accessibility of the playground location, it’s imperative the outdoor playground also be built according to ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) standards to make it an all-inclusive playset for all abilities!
We’ll briefly touch on some of the ADA standards for playgrounds, but you can find a more comprehensive guide in our ADA Playground Accessibility Check.
The main elements of an all-abilities playground include:
Outside the play area – The different connections and accessibility routes.
Inside the playground – The ground level connections and the areas and playgrounds that are accessible at the base of the outdoor playset.
Other playground details – Taking a look at ramps, transfer platforms, and systems, and playground components.
LIABILITY CONCERNS IN PLAYGROUND PLANNING
From a playground safety standpoint, playgrounds aren’t inherently unsafe, but accidents do happen and there are safety standards in place to better mitigate hazards.
On the other hand, it’s crucial to discuss liability in the beginning stages of playground planning. From the companies you use to help build the playground to the volunteers that help put the finishing touches on it, it’s important to be in-the-know about liability.
A couple of things to consider include:
- Verify that all companies working on the project have liability insurance and properly trained employees.
- Require all volunteers to sign waivers
- Regularly schedule inspections
- Implement a maintenance schedule
FACTORING THE CLIMATE IN YOUR PLAYGROUND LOCATION
One last factor we wanted touch upon is the climate in the area of your outdoor playground. We know you can’t control the weather Mother Nature brings, but you can take a couple of other things into consideration such as:
Coverings on your playground to shield it from rain
- Know where the sun will hit at peak times to better position the playground away from it
- Implement shade structures and screens
These small details can make a huge impact on the overall playground experience, so if you are curious about the best positioning or need advice on what may work better for the location of your playground, don’t hesitate to use us as a resource!
PLANNING AND CHOOSING THE LOCATION OF YOUR OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND
Are you a playground industry expert yet? Because wow, we have covered a lot of information! To recap, after you have a better understanding of the playground you’ll need and your outdoor playground budget has been established, the location of the playground is the next part in planning your playground.
There are many parts in play when it comes to choosing your location that includes having an idea of where to build the playground, gauging the topography, land, and soil, choosing appropriate landscaping, examining the community impact, planning for any needed utilities or utility evaluations, ensuring its accessibility for all kids, and factoring in any liability concerns.
Thanks for joining us in today’s resource guide to planning the location of your outdoor playground! It’s important to the playground planning process to have a bigger, more comprehensive picture to see how each part plays into the next, because at the end of the day, there is a lot more that goes into planning a playground!