There are two things that most people overlook when planning a commercial playground. The first thing they tend to overlook is the people that will be watching the children. Most of us will want to spend as much money as possible on activities for the children, but it is important to also make the area functional for parents and individuals who will be supervising the children. This is the point in planning where I always encourage to my clients to at a minimum consider installing benches at the playground. We recommend benches along with picnic tables to provide an area for outdoor gatherings and activities. This will provide parents a place to sit while watching the children. The other thing that most people over look is shade. If you live in an area where summer temperatures average above 80 degrees, it is highly advisable to consider installing a shade structure to cover the playground area. Most of our clients will not do this when initially designing the playground, 4 out of 5 of them will call us the next year to install them when the realize how hot the playground equipment gets in the summer months. It will always be more affordable and easier to install shade structures when installing the playground initially; as opposed to after.
When it comes to designing and building a commercial playground, the only limit to any playground project is the amount of funding and space available. Most of our clients have big dreams and small budgets for their playground projects. By planning and budgeting your commercial playground in the correct manner, you can get the most bang for your buck.
The first question you have to ask is whether or not you plan on ever expanding this playground to include more equipment. The reason why this is so important is because you have to make sure that whatever you plan on installing now will leave enough room to be compatible with future playground equipment additions. The other reason why this is so important is because of the surfacing. If you plan on expanding your playground in the future, you will want to be sure to use a surfacing product that will allow this to happen easily, mulch is the perfect surfacing product to use. If we were to use a poured in place rubber product for instance, it would be very difficult to expand the playground area, and the newly surfaced areas would never match the old.
Once you have decided whether or not the layout of the playground will be permanent, the next step is to decide on which type of surfacing is going to be utilized. This is the first step because it will have a huge impact on the overall budget for your playground. It is important to remember the function of playground safety surfacing, to prevent injuries. That being said, a great way to maximize a playground area is to use affordable surfacing such a rubber mulch or wood mulch. While poured in place rubber is by far the most attractive playground surfacing, it is also the most expensive, typically resulting in a smaller playground area.
Once you have decided on which surfacing product you intend to use on the playground, you can estimate the cost and subtract that from the overall budget. The remaining funds in the budget can now be allocated for other items such as the playground equipment, shade structures, site amenities and fencing.
Your choices for playground equipment at this point are going to be limited by three factors. The first factor will be age. We only need to focus in on the equipment that is suitable for the age group we are designing the playground for. The next factor will be space. Now that we know how much of the budget is going to be allocated for surfacing, we also know the approximate space available for the playground. We need to only look at playground equipment and structures that will fit into that area. The third and final limiting factor when looking at playground equipment will be the cost. Since we know what we have left to spend, we need only look at playground structures and equipment that fit into our budget.