Are you starting to plan a playground? Woohoo! Congratulations!
Planning a playground is a fun and important task. We’ve helped dozens just like you create a playground from scratch so we know how exciting this is for you (even if it might feel a little overwhelming).
There are a lot of decisions to make for your new play space and it all starts with getting your game plan in place by answering these 5 key questions:
Why should this playground happen?
Is it a missing part of the community? Is it an addition to an existing recreation area? Is it an upgrade to playground already in place? Understanding why you want this playground to happen will help you better be able to define your decisions throughout the process and will help you find the right partners to help make it happen.
Who is this playground for?
It’s important to understand the age range, play requirements, and community size that the playground will need to serve. Pre-school aged children will have different needs than older children or even adults (fitness parks are a great way to get the big kids involved!). Inclusive playgrounds ensure play is available for all abilities with equipment designed for wheelchair accessibility, sensory needs and more. There is equipment for every age and all abilities, so focusing your playground on the needs of your primary target will help you better manage budget, time and expectations.
Where will this playground be?
Site planning is a key part of the planning process that aligns closely to understanding who you are planning the park for, more specifically - the type, size, and location of the community the park will serve; we’ve built playgrounds everywhere from wide open green spaces to hospitals! Knowing the area is important for your planning decisions as well as ensuring you are able to remain compliant with any zoning, safety or other local regulations.
When should the playground be ready for fun?
Though there are uncontrollable factors that will likely impact your timeline (hello, Polar Vortex!), playground timing will be largely dependent on the scope and location of your project. Smaller upgrades, for example, can be done faster than a large scale, brand new playground. For us, we know play is important so we do our best to create realistic timeframes that keep this momentum you’re already starting to build going strong!
How much funding will be needed?
Yes, this is The Big One. Now knowing who this playground is for and why, where this park will go and for when, you can get a better understanding of the cost. You probably already have a budget in mind, but if not - that’s fine! That’s part of the process. So once you understand how much your playground will cost - including considerations of equipment, surfacing and installation - you can start to build your budget, including what you have or what you may need to find funding for.
There’s a variety of funding, grant or fundraising opportunities available and we’ve seen many communities across Canada use fundraising for their playground as an opportunity to come together, work together and build together!
While this might feel like a lot to determine, please don’t feel overwhelmed. Planning is the first, most important, part of the process of creating that playground you’re envisioning. In fact, it’s one of our favorite parts because it means a new space for play is on its way!
If you’re looking for some additional inspiration or ideas to help work through these questions, our Playground Planning Guide helps take you through the process. And of course, you can always connect with us to discuss your ideas in more detail. We’re happy to chat and here to help!