How To Build an Outdoor Community Playground

How to Build and Outdoor Community Playground

Are you considering building a community playground? Playgrounds benefit communities by fostering child growth, encouraging community engagement and boosting the local economy. Continue reading to learn more about building a commercial playground, including tips on how to best budget your funding to create the most impactful community experience.

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Tips for Building an Outdoor Community Playground

Our tips for building a community playground include:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Select a playground equipment company early.
  3. Determine your budget.
  4. Get the necessary approvals.
  5. Start fundraising.

Tips for Building an Outdoor Community Playground

After completing these steps, your playground equipment company representative will schedule a timeframe for landscaping, shipping and labor. But first, develop a solid foundation by following these in-depth tips on how to build a commercial playground.

1. Set Your Goals

Before contacting your playground company or purchasing neighborhood playground equipment, sit down with your team and set clear goals to keep the process moving. Here are some objectives you may want to consider.

  • Safety: Child safety is one of the chief concerns that should always be at the forefront of your mind throughout the entire design process. Safety considerations include the type of surfacing used, the height of play equipment and ensuring parents have a clear view of their children from seating areas.
  • Ease of maintenance: Maintenance keeps playgrounds safe and ensures your investment’s longevity. It includes regular inspections, cleaning any waste and checking for deterioration.
  • Innovative designs: Talk with your team about how you envision your playground. Discuss cutting-edge design options like incorporating music, technology and sustainability. Also, suggest the idea of creating a themed playground, if your budget allows.

Break down each goal and develop associated milestones. Use these landmarks to create a timely and concrete game plan, then advance to the next step.

2. Select a Playground Equipment Company Early

Find a playground equipment company early, as they can help you through many steps of your design and installation processes. Behind the scenes, a playground equipment company will execute the following.

  • Brainstorming: Quality playground equipment starts with a thorough brainstorming process. Playground equipment companies will work with you and your design team and gain influence from research and global issues to develop playground equipment ideas.
  • Designing: Playground equipment companies begin bringing their ideas to life through a rigorous design process. They ensure each piece benefits child development, safety, inclusivity and innovation.
  • Manufacturing: With a well-designed plan, playground equipment companies will bring their designs to life using trusted, high-quality materials and deliberate processes.

Once playground equipment designers complete their work, independent representatives will work directly with you on every step of the process, from planning to final installation. This partnership saves you a lot of the stress of having to do everything yourself. Plus, the representative will have direct insight on the right equipment to recommend to achieve your goals.

3. Determine Your Budget

Working directly with your playground equipment company also helps you establish a clear-cut budget. Costs vary widely depending on the equipment, surfacing, installation costs and shipping costs. Approximate the following percentages for your budget:

  • Equipment — 55%
  • Surfacing — 11%
  • Installation — 27%
  • Shipping — 7%

Costs will also vary depending on factors such as amenities, labor and landscaping. A general rule of thumb is to allow around $1,000 for every child your playground accommodates. If your playground’s maximum capacity is 25 children, budget around $25,000.

4. Get the Necessary Approvals

Community playgrounds are public spaces regulated by local governing bodies. As you design, you’ll want to ensure your playground complies with building, construction and zoning codes. Many of these codes vary from state to state. Comply with your state and county’s codes by contacting your state’s department and communicating with a knowledgeable representative who can guide you through the process.

Governing bodies establish building, construction and zoning codes to set standards for children’s safety on the playground. The Consumer Product Safety Commission sets some of these standards with the following recommended safety precautions:

  • Playground equipment should have at least 12 inches of an impact-absorbent surface.
  • The impact-absorbent surface should also extend at least 6 feet from play equipment.
  • Space play structures more than 30 inches high 9 feet apart or more.
  • Equip elevated surfaces with guardrails.

Building, construction and zoning codes also ensure you’re using the appropriate materials and building precautions to make your community playground safe for use.

Your playground equipment company representative will help you navigate these regulations. First, they’ll speak with local authorities about zoning rules and regulations, also checking that any digging won’t interfere with existing underground pipes or wires. Then, they’ll communicate with the municipality and state for their unique permit expectations to avoid any legal stumbling blocks later in the installation process.

5. Start Fundraising

Playgrounds are a community investment. When fundraising, look to the neighborhoods surrounding your planned development.

Grants are an excellent starting point. They’re funds offered by corporations, nonprofits and foundations. They’re different from loans in that you won’t need to repay them. Grants represent an investment into initiatives to stimulate the local community, allotted to organizations with clear and researched initiatives.

The first step to applying for a grant is gathering research. Another advantage to working with a playground equipment company early in the process is you’ll know a rough estimate of costs — a helpful thing to include in your research. You can also gather insights, such as the lack of existing community playgrounds, or statistics, like projected decrease crime rates.

Then, you’ll want to find the right places to apply. Gather your team and research a list of trusted organizations. If the entities approve your funding request, they will award you funds to put directly toward your project.

Another option is asking community members and local businesses for donations. Vocalize your intentions and express mutual benefit. Brainstorm different fun and engaging fundraisers you can organize, like:

  • Bake sales
  • Booths at community events
  • A website
  • Silent auctions using business donations
  • Walking, jogging or running marathons

Get creative when designing fundraising opportunities to create excitement for your playground.

Playground Materials to Consider

Each year, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children for playground-related injuries, approximately 10% of which are traumatic brain injuries. For a second, consider how children will interact with your playground. They’ll crawl, jump and climb across the playground equipment and the surrounding areas. All these activities are necessary for developing children’s motor skills, but they involve some risk of injury.

Protect children from injuries by installing an impact-absorbing surface and using safe playground equipment material.

Protect children from injuries by installing an impact absorbing surface

1. Playground Surfacing

Playground surfacing refers to the type of flooring you install around your playground equipment. Your choice is crucial for mitigating injuries, especially fall-related ones. Consider these two options.

  • Loose-fill: Includes natural materials such as loose-fill rubber and engineered wood fiber. These materials have natural absorbent properties that make them suitable for playground surfacing. Loose-fill surfaces are affordable, easy to install and offer good drainage.
  • Unitary: Chemically bound materials, such as rubber tiles, artificial turf and poured-in-place rubber, are unitary surfaces. They’re highly effective, much more accessible and low-maintenance, but require a more significant portion of your budget than loose-fill surfaces.

We also have a list of a few other options you may want to consider for surfacing. When choosing a surface, you’ll want to account for these factors.

  • Safety guidelines: ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, sets the standards for surfaces. According to ASTM International, surfaces must meet F 1292, F 355, F 1951 and F 2223 standards. These standards account for accessibility, sustainability and impact-absorbent factors.
  • Maintenance costs: Think about long-term maintenance costs. Loose-fill surfaces require more maintenance than unitary ones. Maintenance crews must ensure adequate surface depth, a smooth surface level, correct drainage and a safe fall height from playground structures.
  • Inclusion: Unitary surfacing makes it easier for children and parents who are using mobility devices to get around the play equipment.

Surfacing is another area your playground equipment company representative can help you with. They’re knowledgeable on different surfaces and will guide you to an option that suits your playground’s goal and budget.

2. Playground Equipment

Standard playground equipment materials include plastic, wood and metal. Our playgrounds are typically a mixture of materials that include plastic, metal, ropes and chains.

standard playground equipment materials include plastic, wood and metal

Since our playgrounds include a mixture of materials, they are appropriate for both residential and community playgrounds. Playworld also has Timber Stacks, a line of wooden equipment. Our playgrounds are durable and can handle high-traffic locations. When you choose our playgrounds, you won’t have to worry about the equipment warping, wobbling or corroding due to exposure to the elements.

Equipment Considerations and How to Choose the Best for Your Playground

Of course, a playground wouldn’t feel the same without equipment. Here’s some playground equipment you can consider incorporating into your design.

  • Swings
  • Bridges
  • Inclusive play activities
  • Slides
  • Skill and learning panels
  • Sensory play panels
  • Pretend play
  • Upper-body activities
  • Climbers

The type of playground equipment you choose depends on your goals. Talk with your playground equipment company representative about your target demographic or playground theme. Once they learn more about your vision, your representative will suggest equipment that falls within various categories.

Early Childhood

Young children between the ages of 3 and 5 are actively exploring the world. They’re learning the necessary physical, emotional and social skills to guide their future learning. Early childhood playground equipment gives these young children the tools to guide their exploration and strengthen emotional, sensory and gross motor skills.

Early childhood playground equipment gives young children tools to explore

Early childhood playground equipment doesn’t require children to climb on high structures or engage in too-challenging activities. Instead, they provide equipment like slides and sensory panels in fun themes, bright colors and engaging sounds. Give young children the freedom to play in your community playground by dedicating a cluster of playground equipment for their educational exploration.

School Age

School-aged children span the ages of 5 to 12. They have more challenging needs than preschoolers, therefore requiring more challenging playground equipment. School-aged children are strengthening skills like coordination, endurance, balance and strength.

School-aged children are strengthening skills like coordination, endurance, balance and strength

And, they’re engaging in more active play with friends, enjoying side-by-side or interactive play equipment that inspires competition.

Examples of playground equipment suitable for this age range are upper-body activities and taller playground equipment with climbers.

Fitness and Wellness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects 13.4% of toddlers, 20.3% of school-aged children and 21.2% of teenagers. Childhood obesity links with many adverse effects, including anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, poor quality of life and bullying.

One of the most apparent causes of childhood obesity is not getting enough physical activity. Fitness and wellness playground equipment helps fight childhood obesity, providing children with a fun resource to burn off energy and calories.

Fitness and wellness playground equipment helps fight childhood obesity.

Adults can benefit from fitness and wellness playgrounds, too, with access to wellness equipment like an accessible overhead press, recumbent bikes and exercise stations.

Electronic Play

On average, 90% of children in the U.S. play video games for at least one to two hours a day. Outdoor electronic play equipment blends virtual and real-life play, encouraging children to get out of their homes and engage in exercise while still engaging in electronic games.

A great example of electronic playground equipment is our NEOS Outdoor Electronic Playgrounds, like the NEOS 360. NEOS 360 is a group of circular-spaced equipment that features eight games with one- or two-player and team-play options. Players stand in the center of the equipment and use their peripheral, auditory and spatial awareness skills to navigate game tasks.

The Cost of Building

The best way to determine your community playground’s cost is by connecting with your playground equipment company. Variables affecting the cost of building include the following.

  • Playground equipment: Playground equipment costs vary, and it’s best to work with your playground specialist to come up with a design that works for your community needs and budget.
  • Surface: Loose-fill surfacing is typically less expensive than unitary surfacing. However, loose-fill shifts and thins out over time, requiring regular maintenance and replacement when necessary. Unitary surfacing can result in lower long-term maintenance costs and is easier for individuals who use mobility equipment to comfortably move around the playground.
  • Landscaping: For installation, most playground equipment requires less than a 2% grade. Odds are, your plot will require some leveling. Landscaping also includes tasks such as planting and trimming trees and paving walking paths.
  • Labor: Laborers usually charge hourly rates for installation. Installation time varies depending on your project’s size and complexity, spanning anywhere from hours to days.
  • Shipping: Shipping expenses will vary, based on your location and how far your equipment must travel to reach you. Because of this, costs can range anywhere from 2 to 10% of your budget. Talk with your manufacturer about shipping costs, so you know how much to set aside.

A standard rule of thumb to follow is to budget around $1,000 for every child your playground accommodates

How Much Does Commercial Playground Equipment Cost?

Expect to spend around half of your community playground budget on equipment. As mentioned, a standard rule of thumb to follow is to budget around $1,000 for every child your playground accommodates. That’s equivalent to about $500 worth of equipment per child. If you’re planning to welcome a maximum capacity of 30 children, allot at least $15,000 for playground equipment.

The Benefits of Community Playgrounds

Consider these advantages of community playgrounds.

1. Benefit Child Growth

Children are continuously growing and learning new things. The best way for children to learn is through play, which they can do on the playground. Playgrounds benefit child growth by enhancing the following abilities.

  • Cognitive: Children practice cognitive skills like problem-solving and critical thinking by navigating the playground and experimenting with different types of equipment.
  • Physical: Playground play allows children to climb, jump, crawl and participate in other cardiovascular activities that improve their physical development.
  • Social: Children often play with others, especially when playground designs include social-oriented equipment like imaginative play or multi-player electronic play equipment.
  • Sensory: Users engage multiple senses simultaneously when playing on the playground, including sight, touch and hearing. This quality is especially relevant with sensory activity panels, which include many different textures and interactions.

Playgrounds enhance cognitive, physical, social, and sensory abilities

2. Inspire Community Involvement and Engagement

Your community park will likely become a trusted destination within your local area. Community parks give community members flexibility, taking a break from the daily routine of technologies and school or work.

Community parks let users meet new people from all walks of life, generating friendships. Parents or guardians can bring their children to a safe place to learn and play. Community parks also foster civic engagement and pride by being a destination for fundraisers or other public events.

3. Strengthen Local Economy

When moving to an area, prospective homeowners look at the surrounding area and nearby amenities to make a purchasing decision. Families will likely be more willing to pay a higher value to move to an area with a trusted community playground for the benefits mentioned above.

Request a Quote for Your Community Playground at Playworld

Playworld offers universal designs to create stronger, better communities. We believe in the power of community playgrounds, benefiting the children who play and the adults who visit. We’re here to make creating community playgrounds easy for you, helping you:

  • Brainstorm and establishing goals.
  • Estimate an accurate quote for your equipment, shipping, installation, surface and landscaping costs.
  • Find sufficient funding.
  • Comply with building, construction and zoning codes.
  • Find the best equipment for your community playground.
  • Choose surfacing materials to keep your playground’s visitors safe.

Start working with us today by requesting a quote. We look forward to learning more about your goals and working with you to deliver a unique experience to your community.

Request a Quote for Your Community Playground at Playworld