Arranging Site Furnishings


well-designed park is so much more than a series of open spaces and amenities. When you get site design right, it invites people of all kinds to gather, alone or in groups, and recreate. Whether they come for a family reunion picnic or to just sit on a bench with a book and a cup of coffee during their lunch break, people will flock to your site if it is set up right.

Q: Where should we place our picnic tables and park benches?

A: Picnic tables and park benches should be inviting to people in groups and people alone. To be sure you're providing a spot for everyone, be sure to place picnic tables together in groupings, and also separately, so that a single person or small family can find a spot for a snack.

Benches can be placed along trails, near playgrounds, next to open fields—basically anywhere there's some action or a beautiful view to enjoy. Take care not to place your benches so that the people sitting on them will have their backs to the action. Ideally, you should place benches where they can be easily accessed—near a sidewalk, not across a large field.

To save labor for your groundskeepers, try to keep benches and picnic tables off of open grassy areas. Otherwise, they can become obstacles to mowers.

Q: What about trash and recycling receptacles?

A: Like benches, garbage and recycling areas should be placed where they'll be used. Ideally, you'll want them near any picnic areas and shelters, but not so close that they'll bring a plague of bees to the picnic.

Garbage and recycling receptacles will also be well placed near parking areas and at trailheads.

Q: We'd like our site to have a more customized look—something that fits in with our park shelters and city surroundings. The ordinary wooden benches and picnic tables don't fit the bill. Can we find site furnishings that will give our park a more cohesive look?

A: Want a unique look that no one else has? It can be done. Look for a reputable manufacturer, and then ask your service representative what they can do in terms of customization. Some manufacturers are open to suggestions, and can design a bench that curves around a tree-lined circular garden or can create a series of furnishings that matches the colors and materials of your shelters and restroom structures.

Q: We know we need benches, tables and garbage receptacles. Are there other site furnishings we should consider?

A: Don't forget about bike racks. These can be placed near parking areas or at pedestrian entrances into your site.

In addition, you might want to consider bollards, especially if there are high-traffic areas where you want to prevent cars from crossing into places where they don't belong. You can even find beautiful planters that do double-duty as bollards.

In addition, you might want to consider outfitting your shelter or picnic area with grills. People gathering for a picnic often like to cook on site. When you provide the grills, you make it easier for them to make their favorites, like brats and burgers.


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