Supplement Feature - April 2008
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Room to Live

Outfitting Your Parks to Provide Space for All

By Emily Tipping

Trash Talk

If you want to avoid a stinky situation, don't forget the most important amenity of all: garbage cans and recycling bins.

You want to be sure you have enough cans to handle the load, without overloading your maintenance crews.

Ask the following questions to be sure you get it right:

  • How many people use the park?
  • How much garbage gets thrown away?
  • How often can we empty the receptacles?
  • Is vandalism a problem?
  • Is wildlife an issue?

Place trash and recycling receptacles close to picnic and seating areas, but not too close. No one wants to be disturbed by a smelly odor while reading a book, or be harassed by aggressive bees during a picnic. Designers suggest 10 to 20 feet as a good distance between seating and garbage cans.


Above all, remember that parks are gathering places, where people come to enjoy the company of others, or to sit alone and contemplate the scenery or read a good book. You need to provide picnic areas, shelters and shade, groupings of benches, fire pits and barbecues, game tables and more for those who want to socialize. You also should provide benches in quiet corners for people who want to enjoy the park on their own.

Think carefully about all the ways your park will be used, and you'll be sure to come up with the smartest configuration to please all your visitors.