Playground Design

As a mother and a garden designer, I am really interested in the way that children use outdoor spaces. Often, given everyone’s busy schedules, it is the children who spend the most time in the gardens. As they grow, their needs change, too.

After addressing safety concerns, the two things parents most often request are a play lawn and a climbing toy/structure. Older kids love trampolines, and parents with teens often want swimming pools. Creative design can create space for dynamic play and be adult-friendly, too.

We like to include natural elements and work with existing hillsides, when possible. We use plants to stimulate all of their senses, and provide opportunities for creative play and exploration. This can be as simple as a small plot where they can plant vegetables and flowers, or as complicated as a maze. The most popular elements from the play toy can be “exploded” into the landscape (like slides and stairs from the board game “Chutes & Ladders”). An outdoor wall, or fence, can be painted with chalkboard paint.

GOOD magazine has a whole section of great articles about this topic: Fall Down Go Boom, Nature Playgrounds, Loose Parts Playgrounds, and Adventure Playgrounds

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