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Play Taking Shape: Your Guide for Designing Playgrounds

Design of a playground is a multi-step process that should involve input from buyers, children, and parents. Buyers understand their capacity in regards to budget. Children know what is fun. Parents’ concern is about safety over cost. Combine the multiple relationships of budget, fun, and safety to create a design everyone will live and have fun with for generations to come.

Sketch Property: Playset design can take several shapes. Affordably, design is sketched by hand through measurements taken by the customer. You will need a tape measure, graph paper, and pencil to measure and sketch the available play area. Take into account any hazards such as trees, exposed pipe, concrete, walkways, doors, fence, drainage, and other site-specific issues. Before planning, check to be sure there are no utility lines.

Choose Equipment: Once you have properly mapped out your area, you are ready to start a selection of playgrounds for the design. Using 50-70 percent of the estimated budget, select equipment based on space, age, cost, need, and other requirements. The other 30-50% of budget will be required for other purposes. Other costs can include professional installation by a certified playground contractor, materials needed if a self-install, and shipping costs.

If All Else Fails, Seek Assistance: Most people choose swings for their design first. However, swings take up an enormous amount of space. We only recommend swings for playground designs that have an area large enough to safely accommodate the unit. A single 2-seat swing can require an uninhibited ground area, 32 feet by 24 feet at minimum. These basics of design provide a starting point. For further assistance, contact a certified playground specialist at