Creating a Pocket Park for Your Community

Creating A Pocket Park For Your Community

In urban areas, even a small public space can have a large effect. Pocket parks are small neighborhood spaces designed to perform several functions for people in the surrounding community. Pocket parks are meeting places, play areas, lunch spots and spaces for people to relax away from the busyness of city life.

Building a pocket park in your community is a great way to provide safe and inviting outdoor spaces for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. Learn more about these small parks, and gather ideas for designing a pocket park that serves your community’s needs.

What Is a Pocket Park?

A pocket park, also called a mini park, is a small public park usually located in an urban center and designed to serve a specific segment of a community. Pocket parks function as smaller-scale neighborhood parks and are typically only as large as a couple of vacant house lots. Their small size makes pocket parks fit easily into tight or irregularly shaped urban lots. Pocket parks are a popular solution for municipalities looking to create new outdoor spaces in metropolitan areas.

Municipalities or housing developments create pocket parks to provide local communities with an accessible public area to gather and have fun. These small parks vary in design, though they may feature elements intended to serve a more narrow population. However, the communities where these parks are located are often diverse, requiring municipalities to meet various needs.

The Benefits of Pocket Parks

A neighborhood pocket park provides several benefits to the local population. Here are a few ways creating a pocket park can help your community:

1. Provide Communities With Outdoor Spaces

According to statistics from 2020, almost 83% of the population in the United States lives in urban areas. These people may live in areas surrounded by commercial buildings, skyscrapers and housing developments, with little access to green spaces. Building pocket parks allows people in these communities to engage in outdoor activities and may help improve fitness and health by providing a place to walk, jog, bike and play outside.

2. Make Communities More Sociable

Pocket parks are safe and inviting spaces for people in nearby communities to take a lunch break, meet friends and enjoy play dates. By engaging more frequently with others in a pocket park, people get to know the neighbors they live and work beside.

3. Support Local Wildlife

Pocket parks provide a new habitat for some form of wildlife, especially birds and squirrels.

Pocket parks provide a new habitat for some forms of wildlife, especially birds and squirrels. The green space in a pocket park helps nourish the area’s local ecology and can spread awareness of wildlife conservation to the people who live nearby.

4. Reduce Noise, Pollution and Traffic

Sprinkling pocket parks throughout a city can reduce traffic and noise by limiting the number of new streets or building developments. The trees in pocket parks may also reduce air pollution in urban areas, making the community healthier for its inhabitants.

5. Breathes New Life Into Communities

Pocket parks are a place for people to relax and recharge from the bustle of urban life. Recent studies have linked outdoor activities to mental health in young adults and teens, meaning a pocket park can benefit a community’s emotional well-being. Pocket parks also empower community members to make positive decisions regarding the spaces closest to them.

How to Create a Pocket Park

Following these steps can help you and your pocket park steering committee create an inviting space for your local community to enjoy:

1. Gather Community Input

Since pocket parks serve the local communities within easy walking distance, it’s crucial to gather ideas from people living nearby. Learn what elements community members may want most. Remember that you may have to make trade-offs to maximize the benefits.

2. Select a Location

Select a site for the pocket park that can reasonably accommodate the needs of the local community and is within walking distance of your target community. Common locations for pocket parks include vacant lots or irregularly shaped spaces between buildings.

3. Design the Pocket Park

As your municipality or organization designs its pocket park, it’s essential to maximize the available space to ensure the local community can benefit as much as possible. These priorities will influence your pocket park’s design. The pocket park might include anything from playground equipment or a splash pad to modern art installations or walking paths. Ensure you provide plenty of seating, greenery and shade.

4. Secure Funding

After you design and budget for the pocket park, you’ll need to secure funding. You may be able to apply for grants or fundraise to meet short-term construction and long-term maintenance needs. Another option is to partner with local businesses and nonprofits to secure sponsorships.

5. Schedule Park Installation

Designate a project manager who can schedule the installation days and oversee the construction of the pocket park. You may be able to get community volunteers involved in planting trees and flowers, installing playground equipment and completing other projects.

6. Create a Maintenance Plan

You may need to involve community members in park maintenance to ensure the space is enjoyable for years to come. Set up a maintenance schedule with community volunteers to clean playground equipment, weed flower beds and perform other tasks.

6 Pocket Park Ideas

Pocket parks are as unique as the communities they serve. Here are six pocket park ideas to help you make your neighborhood pocket park an enjoyable space:

1. Provide Plenty of Seating

Seating is a crucial element of any pocket park. Whether community members visit the park to enjoy lunch, read a book or catch up with friends, they need benches and chairs to rest.

2. Create Different Sections

Add layers to your pocket park, visually and in terms of layout. Despite their small size, pocket parks often include multiple sections where people can talk with friends and children can play without interrupting others.

3. Designate Walking or Riding Tracks

Pocket parks should include a walking or riding path. You may restrict pathways to walkers or only allow small-wheeled transportation like bicycles, skates and wheelchairs to keep the pocket park quieter.

Creating accessible paths is essential to making your park inclusive. Bring in community members or landscape designers with experience designing inclusive spaces to ensure your park is accessible to people using strollers, wheelchairs and walkers.

4. Include Water Elements

Adding water elements like a fountain or waterfall can make your park feel more calming. The sounds of a fountain or waterfall may also help create a cushion from the outside world and drown out city noises. You might also consider adding a splash pad for children to use in the warmer months.

5. Plan for Minimal Maintenance

Whether your municipality is performing maintenance or you involve community members, design your pocket park to require as little maintenance as possible. For example, potted plants may be easier to take care of than in-ground landscaping. Balance grassy areas with paved paths to keep mowing to a minimum.

6. Add Playground Equipment

A vital element of a pocket park is a playground. A community playground is essential for creating a safe space for kids to learn, grow and develop their social skills as they play. Use popular playground equipment and add inclusive equipment for children of all abilities. Use a few tips for building a community playground to include play elements in your pocket park.

Create a Community Pocket Park With Playworld

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Building a pocket park in your community can be a great way to promote health and fitness, support your environment and encourage community members to get to know one another. As you design your pocket park, work with people who understand the value of shared community spaces that everyone can enjoy. At Playworld, we’re committed to uniting communities through playground equipment that provides equal play opportunities. We offer playground equipment for all ages, including inclusive play equipment and fitness and wellness equipment.

We design our playground equipment to create memorable experiences and support inclusion. Begin working with us to design your pocket park and request a quote today.

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