Problem Solver - August 2011
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Find the Right Spot for Site Furnishings

Selecting and installing site furnishings might seem like a no-brainer. But, in fact, it takes careful planning to outfit your site well. Finding the right spot for your picnic tables, benches and receptacles can take your park site from mediocre to magnificent.

Q: Where is the best place to put picnic tables and park benches?

A: Picnic tables and park benches should be arranged so that people can easily gather in groups, but also can find a nice spot for solitary enjoyment. Place picnic tables together in groupings, but also individually so that families can gather for a big party or a small family can find a spot for a cozy picnic.

Benches can go virtually anywhere—along trails, near playgrounds, next to sports fields. Wherever there's action or scenery to enjoy. They also are wisely placed where people might need to stop and take a breather. Whatever you do, make sure you place your benches so that people are facing the action or view.

Ideally, benches and picnic tables should be easy to access. Don't make people cross a wide field to find the right picnic spot. Locate them near a sidewalk. Also, be sure to locate some close to the parking area or entrance. Also, be aware of ADA requirements, and be sure to locate picnic tables in areas that are easily accessed in a wheelchair.

Q: Our site is hilly, and we'd like to install new park benches, but we don't want the trouble of leveling each area where we want to install a bench. Is there a simpler way?

A: Talk to your manufacturer about various options. Some offer in-ground versions of furnishings that provide more flexibility for installation in a hilly park or on ground that is not level. You can adjust the height of each leg, providing a level seating area for visitors.

Q: What about trash and recycling receptacles?

A: Like all your other furnishings, you need to put trash and recycling receptacles where they can be easily accessed. Place them near picnic areas and shelters, but provide enough distance so that picnickers can enjoy their meal without a plague of bees.

Other smart locations for receptacles include near the entrance, by parking areas and at trailheads.

Q: We'd like to ensure our furnishings meet our agency's green mission. What should we know?

A: Wooden park benches and picnic tables are nice, but they eventually rot or splinter, and need to be replaced. Go greener by looking for longer-lasting solutions. You can find benches, picnic tables, receptacles and more made from recycled plastic.

In addition to being eco-friendly, this type of material requires much less maintenance. It is manufactured to withstand heavy traffic and abuse. It won't need to be painted or stained, and will never splinter or rot.

Graffiti is a problem in many areas. Purchasing furnishings made from the right materials can help you remove graffiti more quickly. Graffiti painted on recycled plastic can be removed easily with commercial solvents. Carvings can be smoothed with simple household tools.


Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls Inc.: