playground planning and design

Park and Playground Design

Designing a new park or playground is such an exciting endeavour, and we love helping our clients bring their vision to life. We've been helping communities, landscape architects, municipalities, and schools design, build, and enjoy new parks and playgrounds for over 20 years.

We've put this knowledge into a comprehensive guide to planning a playground, and you can download it for free from our resource section.

Our aim at Park N Play is to make the process as stress-free as possible. Regardless of your project budget or size, you get the exact same level of commitment and enthusiasm from our award-winning team.

When you choose Park N Play as your partner, you don't just get our park and playground design experience, you get an experienced team of designers, project managers, and installers that will help you see your project through from beginning to end.

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Our park and playground design process

Our design process usually includes six stages:

  1. Nailing down the park or playground idea/vision
  2. Defining the key objectives
  3. Conducting a needs assessment
  4. Site selection
  5. Equipment selection
  6. Park or playground design and quote

Remember that our process can and will be modified to suit your specific needs. For example, you may already have clear objectives, a budget, and equipment in mind.

Stage 1: Nailing down the park or playground idea/vision

Most of the time, our clients have a pretty clear idea for their upcoming project, but if you don't, don't worry! We'll work with you to determine the concept and vision for your upcoming project. Our team has extensive experience designing both pre-set playgrounds and fully custom playgrounds.

Examples of custom playgrounds where we assisted in bringing the initial idea to life:

Stage 2: Defining key objectives and your budget

Our team will help you define your objectives for your new space. There are virtually endless options and configurations, so we'll meet with key stakeholders to determine critical objectives for the area. Investing the time and energy up-front to get clear on goals can save a lot of time and budget down the line.

As for your budget, it's essential to consider both time and money. However, you can maximize the efficiency of your budget by choosing the right partner. The right partner can help you select cost-efficient equipment that will meet your objectives. They can also help you identify and apply for various grants and funding opportunities that you may not be aware of otherwise.

Key factors that should be considered when determining your budget:

  • Inspections
  • Excavation
  • Removal of existing equipment (if necessary)
  • Soil removal
  • Drainage
  • Site restoration
  • Surfacing

Stage 3: Needs assessment

The most obvious outcome of a playground or park is to provide "fun" for the users. However, studies have shown that playgrounds and parks can offer so much more than just fun. A well-constructed, properly designed playground can:

  • Improve in-class focus
  • Lessen bullying issues
  • Improve turn-taking skills
  • Decrease incidents of vandalism
  • Enhance physical education programs
  • Increase inclusivity and acceptance of differences
  • Provide stimulating play opportunities for individuals with mobility devices and cognitive differences

It pays to think about the needs of both students, staff and other community members. A playground can be a resourceful tool that serves all stakeholders. Consider the following:

  • The number of children who will be using the playground or park (now and in the future)
  • The age group of those using the playground or park
  • The site location and size
  • Approvals from other stakeholders (school board, community associations, etc.)
  • Who will have final approval?
  • Existing equipment and surfacing - will the same site be used?
  • Are there special needs within your school or community that should be addressed to ensure all school or community members can use the new playground or park?

We go into more detail on accessibility and the seven principles of inclusive design in our free playground planning guide.

Stage 4: Site selection

Designing a new playground or park is so much fun, especially when it comes to choosing the new equipment. But investing the time to understand the "below ground" requirements is just as important as the "above ground" structures.

Like building a home, proper structural foundations are critical to long-term stability and durability.

To be sure your site is appropriate and to make sure you don't run into costly issues in the future, please consider the following factors:

  • Proximity from the school to the playground
  • Ease of access - are there pathways or ramps onto the playground area? Are borders required?
  • Sun exposure - is shade needed or is there adequate natural shade?
  • Wind - is it windy or cold at the site?
  • Blockage and obstructions - will you need to go through the playground to access other amenities like the soccer/football field?
  • The direction the structures will face - will the slides or climbing structures face the sun?
  • Drainage requirements
  • Natural vegetation
  • Above ground and below ground obstructions

Stage 5: Equipment selection

Now for the fun part! With all of that previous work done, we can confidently move on to selecting the equipment and furnishings for your new park or playground.

When selecting the equipment, we'll make sure to keep your goals and needs assessment in mind to make sure you have the right equipment for the job at a suitable price.

We offer a comprehensive suite of products to make sure we can provide the right equipment at the right price for your project. We group our products into the following categories:

Stage 6: Park or playground design and quote

Now that we're on the same page when it comes to your key objectives, budget, and needs assessment, we can start putting it all together for you.

Our certified playground designers will begin by creating a 2D design to make that makes sure the measurements are correct, we're within budget, and the equipment will fit in the site selected.

From there, we'll render the 2D into a 3D visualization so you can see exactly what the playground will look like when finished. We can even create an immersive video of the rendered playground so you can view it from multiple angles.

At this point, we'll send you a quote for your review.

Remember - this is meant to be a comprehensive stage where we work together on the colours, equipment selection, and overall design of the project. We're not happy until you're happy!

Once you approve the design, we'll order the equipment, organize the shipping and freight, and determine how we'll get the site prepared and equipment installed. Your Park N Play project manager will be with you each step of the way to ensure a seamless process from beginning to end.

What do you get when you choose Park N Play?

When you choose Park N Play as your partner, you don't just get our park and playground design experience, you get an award-winning team of designers, project managers, and project managers that will help you see your project through from beginning to end.

Internal processes to set you up for success

We strive to provide our clients with the best service possible. Over the years, we've learned and established best practices for all aspects of the project:

  • Change management workflows
  • Construction management documentation
  • Cost & time management procedures
  • Environmental responsibility processes
  • Comprehensive schedules and contingency plans
  • Health and safety plans

Certifications

We have certified inclusive design educators, certified playground inspectors, certified installers, and a fully COR-certified installation team to make sure we're compliant with all of the latest safety and design regulations.

What do I need to consider when planning a playground?

There are so many things to consider when planning a playground. We don't have enough space to include everything here, but we've compiled a lot of what we've learned over the last 20 years into a comprehensive playground planning guide. You can download it for free on our website.

How can I be sure the playground or park will be safe?

Each and every playground or park we design is with the children or community members who will use it in mind. All products we carry are IPEMA certified and compliant with the latest CSA safety standards.

What is an accessible playground/park?

The words accessible and inclusive are used a lot and can be a source of confusion. When we talk about accessible playgrounds or parks, we're referring less to the actual equipment and more to the surfacing surrounding the location. Surfacing that can be used by users with mobility devices is accessible. Examples of accessible surfacing are engineered wood fiber, pour-in-place rubber, and artificial turf. You can learn more on our "Surfacing" product page.

What if I have more than one age range of children to consider?

No problem. We use specific component choices to design playgrounds that can effectively meet the needs of multiple age groups. Your Park N Play consultant will work with you to determine the needs of your playground. Once the needs assessment is done, we'll work together to identify the right mixture of components.

How are your playgrounds inclusive and accessible?

We have certified Inclusive Design Educators on staff to ensure we're understanding and meeting the unique needs of each and every member of your school or community. We'll work with you to determine what the needs are, and then craft a design that follows the 7 principles of inclusive design.

playground with stars on the surfacing

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“I cannot say how pleased I am with the results of what Park N Play has come up with for our community. Your team addressed all our requests and provided two amazing options for us. As the saying goes “you hit the nail on the head”. Excellent job, Park N Play. Please give yourselves a big pat on the back from Heritage Hills Housing Co-op.
In addition to the amazing parks you came up with, I would also like to add a thanks for the information you have on your site and the direction of Steve to research the other available grants. It has saved me personally hours and hours of time looking for this information on my own. It has been such a pleasure thus far.”

– Sam Hansen, VP Maintenance

“We chose Tim Aylesworth and Park N Play for our playground structure because of the superb and consistent customer service, the ability to achieve our goal on a fast timeline, and his professionalism in handling all the changes we requested. …Tim and his design team put together a playground which is exciting, challenging and engaging. The feedback from the students, teachers, parents, and staff have been nothing but positive! We wholeheartedly recommend Tim and Park N Play. If we are to build another playground I wouldn’t hesitate to have Tim come in and design it!”

– Bonnie deGroot, Playground Committee Member

“Shelley and the rest of the team at Park N Play..,work as valuable team members on my projects and not only entertain my sometimes crazy ideas, but work with me to make award winning realities…I need a team that puts in the same excitement, dedication and passion in my projects as I do….Park N Play definitely exemplifies that.”

– Amber Lyons, Senior Landscape Architect

“The finished product is now one of the most beautiful parks in town in my opinion and from community feedback. From the town’s hassle free experience with this project, I would not hesitate to highly recommend Bob and his crew at Park N Play for any park design and play structure construction that you may be considering.”

– Jim Moss, Director of Development and Operations

My best summation of the Kinglet playground would be that it was a great collaboration of playground elements and design intent, along with a flawless installation leading to a fantastic playground and incredibly happy client and consultant.

– Jordan Gulayets, Landscape Architect Manager

Explore why thousands of organizations across Canada trust Park N Play with their play space needs

3,070+ play spaces built  |   23,220+ children served