Supplement Feature - April 2008
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Play Date

Planning Pleasing Playgrounds

By Richard Zowie

Step by Step

Here are eight steps offered by John McConkey,
product marketing manager for a Minnesota-based
playground equipment manufacturer:

  1. Define the objectives. What are the goals? Is this to provide space to get kids out to play or to bring the community together? Are there certain requirements based on the community's needs? The diversity of children is also important.
  2. Analyze and assess needs, and identify the next steps.
  3. Analyze the site. There are a lot of elements within this: drainage, shade, access, visible sight lines and so on.
  4. Select the equipment. This should tie back to goals and needs. In some cases, planners ask kids to get involved in a "dream playground" event, where kids offer up their ideas of what they'd like to see.
  5. Select a surface. Surfacing material should meet safety requirements, whether it's a loose-fill surface option like pea gravel, sand or shredded bark or rubber, or it's a synthetic surface like rubber tiles or synthetic turf meant for use on playgrounds.
  6. Create a site plan. This includes drawings, installation and specifications.
  7. Install the playground. Your playground may be professionally constructed or built as a community effort. When everyone builds it, it can bring the community together.
  8. Create a long-term maintenance plan. This should include periodic maintenance and update requirements. You might also consider phasing the playground (adding new elements in the future).