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The Ultimate Playground Planning Guide

By Whirl Construction (627 words)
Posted in Commercial Playgrounds on October 9, 2019

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Everyone loves playgrounds, especially when they are well planned and meet the needs of the children, families, and community members who will use it most. 

Planning a playground, however, can be quite frustrating. As you move into the finer details of planning, your playground preparation can be marred by budget limitations, space miscalculations, and other unexpected issues. What starts as a dream project can quickly turn into a nightmare. 


Fortunately, the team at Whirl Construction can help. We have more than 100 years of combined experience and over 1,000 installations in the tri-state area.  We know a thing or two about planning - and building - the ultimate playground. Here are the five areas we suggest you review carefully during the planning process. 


Bigger isn’t always better. Some of the best playgrounds we’ve planned have been smaller areas with smart layouts that maximized space and included thoughtful details for all patrons. 

When planning your playground, look at more than the square footage. Consider the layout of the land, the angle of the sun, and any trees or buildings that might impact patrons’ views. Also, think about the areas you want to include in your playground, and how you can allocate appropriate space for each section. 


Just as more space doesn’t equal a better layout, a bigger budget doesn’t guarantee a better playground. How you use your budget is what’s important. 

Regardless of size, you’ll want to budget for the following: 

Equipment - playground equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, and pricing depends on several factors. When choosing equipment, think about who will use your playground and what equipment will best serve them. 

Surfacing - Wood fiber, poured in place, rubber tiles, and more. There are many options for playground surfaces, and each one comes with its own set of benefits. You’ll need to consider the weather in your location, as extreme heat or cold can impact the condition and longevity of certain materials. Consult a local playground installation expert to determine which surface is best for your project.  

Installation - Installation costs are typically separate from the equipment and surfacing. The site will also need to be prepped before installation. Have your site examined ahead of time to determine these costs, especially if the area will need rocks or debris cleared away. 

Amenities - Trash cans, benches, and picnic tables are wonderful amenities, but they can add up quickly. Include this in your project blueprint so you know exactly how much they will cost. 


A new playground must meet minimum ADA compliance regulations. However, don’t settle for the bare minimum. More than 2.8 million children have a physical, mental, or sensory disability - and they deserve to enjoy a playground, too. 

Move beyond ADA to an inclusive playground design that creates space for every person and ability. Plus, inclusive playgrounds are often eligible for grants, which could help free up your budget for more amenities! 

Materials & Equipment 

Equipment is broken into several areas. Structural equipment will likely be the main section of your playground and will take up the most space. Structural equipment includes any connected slides, climbing structures, bridges, and towers. Freestanding equipment refers to slides, swings, rockers, climbers, etc. 

Some playgrounds now include freestanding fitness equipment to encourage families to build healthy lives by working out and playing together. This can be as simple as balance beams and chin-up bars or can include a separate section with signage featuring usage instructions and workout recommendations.  

Don’t let playground planning leave you frustrated and hopeless. You can have a beautiful, inclusive, and functional playground with a little help. Whether your next playground is fully funded or still in the early planning stages, our professionals can provide expert guidance. We’ll ensure your project checks all the boxes on your list! 

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International Playground Contractors Association New Jersey Recreation and Park Association Certified Playground Safety Inspectors Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute