What to Plant Around Your Playground

What to Play Around Your Playground Designing a playground goes beyond the structures kids can have fun on. Landscaping is just as important and can help create an inviting, calming, beautiful environment that attracts kids and families. Whether creating a new playground or updating your existing play area, consider how you can incorporate plants into the space. Various plants can be used around a playground, but they should be safe for people to interact with, suitable for your area and beneficial for the playground experience. Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
  1. Ways to Use Plants in Playground Design
  2. Tips for Playground Landscaping
  3. Start Planning Your Playground and Landscaping With Playworld
Ways to Use Plants in Playground Design

Ways to Use Plants in Playground Design

You can plant a wide range of plants around a playground, as long as they are safe for kids to interact with. Beyond enhancing the look and feel of a playground, plants can also provide shade, enhance your play space’s theme and be part of educational activities. Here are some playground landscaping ideas:


Playgrounds can heat up in the sun, making it uncomfortable for children to play and adults to supervise. Shade cloths and structures are one way to offer shade. To create a more natural environment for children to play in, consider using trees for playgrounds. They can provide ample shade for kids and adults to find refuge from the heat on hot days. Potential shade trees include:
  • Silver maple
  • Sugar maple
  • Small-leaved Linden
  • Thornless honey locust
  • Paper birch
  • Quaking aspen
  • Hackberry

Organization and Layout

Plants may also improve the organization of a playground. If you plant trees for shade around the perimeter of a playground, they may also help keep kids within the designated play space. Shrubs can stop balls and other toys from rolling out of a specific area, too. Trees and shrubs can also hide or beautify perimeters already in place, like fences. Shrubs are ideal to use around playgrounds, as their growth can be controlled enough that kids can still be seen as they play. Shrubs can also provide protection from wind. Consider bushes for a way to add natural borders around a playground.


Shrubs and flowers can help line pathways and divide a playground into sections. Using plants to line pathways can create beautiful routes visitors can easily find and use to navigate a playground. Plants well-suited to delineate pathways while adding touches of green and color include:
  • Photinia
  • Vines and creepers
  • Inland sea oats
  • Coral bells
  • Bamboo

Play and Education

Adding plants to a playground can encourage children to learn more about nature. They can also be used as part of kids’ games. When supervised by an adult, kids can use seeds, pods, leaves, stems, acorns and pinecones in various ways for dynamic and interactive games. Some plants can be turned into crowns or woven together to form mats. Flowers with different colors, smells and textures can also be used in sensory play. Plants can be educational. Kids can learn about why trees or flowers change colors between seasons, the need for ground cover to control erosion and why certain plants are well-suited to your area. Kids can also be taught about the wildlife attracted to different plants. Some fun plants to use for educational play include:
  • Sunflowers
  • Mint
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Tall grasses
  • Lavender
  • Maple trees
  • Paper birch
  • Abelia
  • Stonecrop

Ground Cover

Growing grass or choosing turf that can withstand being walked on by playground visitors can be challenging. Ground cover is an ideal solution as it can grow in harsh conditions, making it hardier than grass and turf. It can also be an effective way to help control erosion. Some ground cover plants for playgrounds include stonecrop and pachysandra.

Tips for Playground Landscaping

When choosing plants for your playground, there are various aspects to consider. These considerations include maintenance needs and costs along with choosing safe plants for playgrounds. Here are some tips for choosing playground plants:
  • Choose safe plants: Avoid plants that attract too many stinging insects, have thorns and have berries or parts that look edible. These can all present safety risks for visitors, especially if they are allergic to stings. Younger kids may try and eat berries or parts that look edible. Choose non-toxic varieties but have signs instructing visitors to supervise kids to lower the risk of them trying to eat any plants.
  • Consider maintenance needs: Plants have unique maintenance needs. Look for plants that require minimal care to reduce maintenance costs. Fast-growing and hardy plants that require minimal care can grow quickly when the season changes and minimize maintenance time and cost.
  • Think about price: Look for good quality plants that are affordable, especially as you may have to replace plants as they age or get damaged by kids playing. High-quality, durable plants can require a significant initial investment but may last longer and be more cost-effective to maintain in the long run. It is essential to understand the overall cost of the plants you choose, including maintenance needs.
  • Choose hardy plants: Remember that kids will play in and with the plants around the playground. Choose hardy plants that can handle being touched, picked and walked on.
  • Buy region-specific plants: Plants have different water, temperature and soil requirements that affect their hardiness levels. Ensure you research which plants will thrive in your region based on their unique needs and hardiness. Choosing local plants can also help educate kids about the local environment. Ensure you avoid invasive plants that may harm your surrounding environment.
  • Use existing vegetation: If there is already existing vegetation around your playground or the area you want to build a playground, try using them in your design. Using existing trees and plants in your play area can be cost-effective, especially if you only need to move flowers or shrubs. Always get trees examined by a professional arborist to make sure they are disease- and pest-free.
  • Plan plant placement carefully: Make sure you plan where to place plants. For example, flowering plants should be planted in less traveled areas to avoid kids trampling them. In addition, plants grow at different rates, so it is important to consider how the plants will be used to give them sufficient time and resources to grow correctly.
Start Planning Your Playground and Landscaping With Playworld

Start Planning Your Playground and Landscaping With Playworld

With decades of experience, Playworld can help you design and install a playground that uses various plants and landscaping to enhance children’s playtime. Our team will guide you through every step, from budgeting to site planning and research. Get started on your next playground by requesting a quote from us today!
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