Problem Solver - August 2010
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Dealing With Site Furnishing Issues


urchasing and installing site furnishings might seem like a snap. But depending on your site and your budget, as well as maintenance needs, you might find that getting a park bench or picnic table in place is a little trickier than you imagined.

Q: Our park is very hilly, and we're looking to install park benches. Will we have to level each area where we want to install a bench, or is there an option that will allow us to place benches on slanted ground?

A: Talk to your manufacturer. You might find that you have easier options than regrading the area where you want to place your benches. Some manufacturers offer in-ground versions of furnishings that give you greater flexibility. In a hilly park or on unlevel ground, you can adjust the height of each leg, giving you a level seating area.

Q: We are concerned about the long-term costs of maintaining our site furnishings. What should we consider to help us reduce life-cycle costs before we make a purchase?

A: Recycled plastic site furnishings require much less maintenance than other types of material, like wood. Recycled plastic is manufactured to withstand heavy traffic and even abuse. Wooden picnic tables and benches will need to be repainted or stained on a regular basis to keep them looking nice. Recycled plastic will never require this kind of service. What's more, wood can splinter or rot, which means you'll have to replace boards or even entire furnishings occasionally. Recycled plastic will never rot or splinter.

If graffiti is a problem in your area, you'll want to avoid wood. It can be hard to remove painted graffiti from wooden benches. On recycled plastic furnishings, on the other hand, painted-on graffiti is easy to remove with a commercial solvent, and carvings can be smoothed with simple household tools.

If you're worried about vandals, look for site furnishings that are available with permanent mounting kits. The kit will allow you to mount your furnishing to a concrete surface, making them even more secure.

Q: We'd like to ensure our furnishings are eco-friendly. Are there site furnishings available that are green?

A: Wooden park benches and picnic tables will eventually rot or splinter and need to be replaced. You can go greener by finding a longer-lasting solution that will never need painting. You can find park benches, picnic tables, planters, receptacles and more made of recycled plastic. One manufacturer alone recycles more than 5 million pounds of plastic a year—the equivalent of 35 million milk jugs.

In addition to using recycled materials, you can be sure you're giving your patrons a chance to recycle. Include recycling receptacles next to your garbage receptacles, and you'll get park visitors in on the green action. Be sure to include signage that lets people know what can go into the recycling container.


Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls Inc.: