How do we get started?
Designing and building a playground is a process we are very familiar with. To get started simply contact us, we will ask you a few questions and based upon the scope of your project we may also make arrangements to schedule a site visit. We will assist in evaluating your needs and based upon your criteria we will create and submit for your review a design and cost estimate. This is complete with site drawings, specifications, certifications and a colorful rendering of your new playground, all free of charge. Over the years we have encountered just about every situation and our focus always remains the same – to provide you a detailed and relevant solution in a timely manner.
Will you come out and take a look at my site/area?
On many occasions we will request to schedule a site visit where we can meet with you and assess the project. On some occasions we can review satellite imagery of the site to get an idea of what we are working with. In either event we will clearly walk you through the steps necessary for a successful outcome.
Can you design a playground for different age groups?
Age-appropriate play is a fundamental aspect of our approach to your design solution. We seek to learn the ages and the number of the intended users. We have commercial playground equipment components that have been designed to best meet the needs of specific age ranges. From playground equipment that helps infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop their basic skills to playground components that deliver age-appropriate challenge for kids ages 5 to 12, we'll create playground designs that encourage active, healthy kids.
What does “inclusive” playground mean?
Playgrounds are a place for play and learning, where children develop physical and cognitive skills, and where they build valuable social relationships. Inclusive playground design is about creating spaces that meet the needs of a wide range of abilities. Where all kids can explore in a variety of settings, addressing a variety of interests, senses and skills.
What do I need to know about playground safety?
Kids are always finding new and inventive—but not necessarily safe—ways to play on or around playground equipment. And while they may scrape an elbow or bruise a shin, it’s important to take steps to eliminate the risk of more serious mishaps. We make playground safety a top priority and we’ll help you keep kids safe by selecting age-appropriate equipment, safety surfacing and shade systems. For more information on playground safety visit the National Program for Playground Safety.
Do you offer installation services? Can I install the play equipment myself?
A properly installed playground not only helps insure it’s safe to play on, it also lends to the longevity of the equipment. We provide comprehensive, project-specific, installation instructions for those who wish to install their equipment themselves. Or for a small fee, we offer the assistance of a certified installer to help guide your group with the installation. And finally we offer complete professional installation. Our installers are certified, bonded and insured.
How much should I budget for a playground installation?
There are a great number of factors that influence the cost of playground equipment installation. These costs typically range from 25% to 40% of the price of the equipment. In addition, there may be site work, i.e. leveling or excavating the area, drainage system, removal of existing equipment, concrete sidewalks or curbs, etc.. Plus the costs of protective surfacing which varies depending on the system you select.
Can we build our project in phases?
Phased projects are a big part of our business, we often design master plans to be broken down into 2 or 3 phases. And because our equipment is modular it can always be added on to in the future as the budget allows. If you are considering a project and are leaning towards planning for what you can initially afford, with the thought you would like to add on sometime in the near future, we encourage you to aim high and put forth a master plan now that can easily be scaled back if needed.
Are there any grants available for building my playground?
We have been assisting customers develop successful play areas for over 40 years. In many cases our customers face the daunting task of raising a significant amount of money to accomplish their goals. The one thing they all have in common is keeping it local and keeping it simple. It is important to realize the distinction of simple and easy, there is no silver bullet it takes hard work and many hours to raise the thousands of dollars it takes to build a new and wonderful play area.
Regarding Grants, when you are searching for a grant keep this in mind – Manufacturers offer discounts, Foundations offer grants, a true grant is available only through a non-profit organization or foundation. So when you see a manufacturer offering a grant you can be sure there are some strings attached. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be a “grant” from a playground manufacturer, these so-called grants are typically the result of a reduction on the overestimated value of the equipment. Read the fine print and you’ll discover what most others have concluded – This is too good to be true.
We have listed the following items to consider in raising funds for your new playground:
- Lease/purchase – this offers a customer the ability to finance the purchase of their equipment, including surfacing and installation if desired. Typically the rates are slightly lower than a standard loan and you can finance the entire project. Terms are flexible.
- Grant applications – the internet is a terrific tool for locating any potential grants within your state. The key with any grant application is being as thorough as possible. We help you through the process of developing a well-thought out plan, this not only ensures a successful project but also assists you in garnering more attention with the grant selection committee. Search for Foundations that promote the wellbeing of children for they are likely to provide grant money for projects that include new playground equipment.
- Fund Raising – this is an area that is as vast as one’s imagination. There are countless books available and again the internet is a great tool too. We will prepare presentation-quality plans and renderings to help you capture the attention of prospective donors.
- In-kind donations, these are pledges generally from local businesses towards a certain aspect of the project. For example the local sand and gravel company may donate the sand or cement. We can provide you with a complete list of items needed for your project which you can then seek in-kind donations.
- Community-built Playgrounds, while this idea won’t necessarily raise money for your project it can save you thousands of dollars. Building your new playground with volunteers under the supervision of a factor-certified installer is not only a great cost saving measure it is also a great way to involve the neighborhood or the community as a whole. Experience has proven that a community-built playground not only gets used more it is also less likely to be vandalized.
The main thing to keep in mind as you go through this process is to create the momentum and build upon it with sometimes small but meaningful steps. That, and choose a partner whom you feel comfortable with and confident in achieving your dream, a dream of safe and active children playing together with smiling faces.
What are the playground surfacing options?
Playground surfacing is a critical element of a safe playground design. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports over 225,000 playground injuries are treated every year and nearly 80% of those resulted from falls. Having the proper resilient surfacing within the playground will greatly diminish the number and severity of these injuries.
Regarding the overall site we look for the grade to be fairly level with no abrupt changes in elevation that can cause a trip hazard or otherwise impede access. It should be designed to drain well. That can be accomplished with proper grading (less than 2% slope) or through the use of a drainage system. A means to contain the surfacing is also a consideration. The use of a containment border helps keep loose-fill surfacing where you want it. Use zone is a term used to define the area beneath and immediately around the play equipment that requires surfacing.
Impact attenuation, or resiliency, is a term that describes the performance of the surfacing product. It refers to the product’s ability to spread out the force of impact. Think of an egg dropped on to a concrete sidewalk then think of it dropped onto a fluffy pillow. Guidelines have been established to identify the performance necessary where a life threatening head injury, resulting from falls to the surface, would not be expected to occur. This is referred to Critical Fall Height. Understanding a surfacing product’s impact attenuation, playground designers can then select the proper surfacing type and depth to meet the equipment’s critical fall height. Accessibility is also a consideration of playground surfacing. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires the playground to be accessible.
In general there are two types of playground surfacing products, loose-fill and unitary. Loose-fill defines such products as sand, pea gravel, wood chips (engineered wood fibers) and chunk or granular rubber. Unitary defines such products as rubber tiles and poured-in-place rubber. Artificial turf products are mostly considered unitary as well.
Cost of course is a major determining factor on which type of surfacing to use. We recommend evaluating this aspect over the expected life cycle of the product. Initially poured-in-place rubber is the most expensive, but amortized over the life of the product it’s comparable to lessor expensive alternatives. Engineered wood fibers is initially amongst the most economical however due to regular maintenance and necessary replenishment it can end up costing as much as the rubber.
So which surfacing product is best for your application? Well unfortunately there is no particular product that ranks best in all categories, those being:
- Superior fall protection
- Relative ease to travel over (accessible)
- Low maintenance, long-lasting
- Simple to install
It is important your surfacing offer the best protection you can afford and it needs to be accessible. With that criteria in mind engineered wood fibers, when properly maintained, is probably the best solution. It provides excellent fall protection, it passes ASTM F1951 for accessibility, it is economical and simple to install. Because it is a loose-fill surface it will require more maintenance to keep a consistent depth throughout the use zone. And because it is a natural wood product it will breakdown over time requiring routine replenishment. Keeping the wood fibers dry is essential to performance and extended life so we recommend a well-drained subbase, a 3” layer of pea rock over a geotextile fabric serves this purpose well. Heavy rubber wear mats placed under swing seats and at slide exits helps lower maintenance. Finally a containment border is needed to hold everything in place. We recommend a sturdy 12” high poly border, commonly referred to as TuffTimbers. Please feel free to contact us for detailed information on each surfacing type.
What is the lead time for your products?
Under most circumstances standard products can ship within 3 weeks. Custom products understandably will take a little longer to manufacture, typically from 6 to 8 weeks depending on the complexity.
What other costs do I need to consider for my project?
Aside from the new equipment, shipping charges and the cost of installation you need to budget for the protective surfacing beneath the play equipment and a means to contain the surfacing (see playground surfacing options). In addition you may need to prepare the site, i.e. grading, excavating or filling. You also need to take into consideration good drainage of the area from storm water. Access to the site may need to be enhanced with sidewalks or pathways. Removal or relocation of existing equipment may be an element of your project. Your community may require special licenses or permits, check with local authorities. Other site improvements such as visitor seating, shade, lighting, perimeter fencing and landscaping may be incorporated into your project.
Do you have options to upgrade to my existing playground?
We offer a couple of options to upgrade your playground. If you are a past customer, meaning you have an existing playstructure purchased from us, we can create a plan to retrofit your playstructure by removing certain elements and installing new ones in their place. This is a terrific and less expensive way to bring new and exciting elements into your playground without having to start from scratch. Another way is to create a plan to incorporate new freestanding elements within the playground. This may require removing or relocating some of the existing elements. We have a great variety of freestanding elements to consider.
Do you have suggestions for a small budget?
We offer a great variety of freestanding play elements in wide range of pricing, this gives you a lot of options to consider. In addition we offer a budget-friendly, pre-configured play system called PlaySense®, a complete playstructure incorporating many of our most popular play events. There are currently 28 models to choose from in an endless variety of color combinations ranging in price from $5,000 to $35,000 all backed by our world-class warranty and service. Systems are age-appropriate for 2 to 5 year olds or 5 to 12 year olds.
What do I need to know once the playground project is complete?
To insure the long life of the equipment and the safety and wellbeing of those who play on it it’s advised you conduct regular inspections and routine maintenance of the playground equipment and surrounding area. To guide you in these efforts, we provide a comprehensive manual tailored specifically to your playstructure.