Planning a playground can be fun, but the task of choosing the right play equipment for your organization can also be a bit intimidating. Here are 5 helpful steps we've designed to help make the process a little easier. Please call our office at 1-800-221-8869 for assistance in making your playground purchase a successful one. Good luck!
In this step your goal is to find out what you are trying to accomplish with your playground. You should ask your organization the following questions:
• What is our budget? Will we be buying all at once, or purchasing in phases?
• How many children and what ages are we trying to accommodate?
• Do we have children or parents with specific needs?
• What is our time frame for purchasing and installation?
Tip: Make sure to determine what your budget covers. You should consider equipment cost, shipping, site preparation, safety surfacing, containment border material, and installation. Typical percentages are: 50% for equipment, 30% for delivery & installation, and 20% for surfacing.
This is an important process that can affect your playground for years to come. Please analyze your projected area for proper slope and drainage. Your area should be relatively flat with just enough slope to eliminate standing water. Remember, areas that hold water will increase your maintenance cost of your surfacing material and limit the amount of days you can play on your playground. Trees and shrubs can provide great shade and aesthetics, but make sure they don’t impede your vision for proper supervision. Also, check for any low-hanging or unstable limbs that could be climbed on or could fall into a play area. Contact your city or local locating service for determining the location of any water, sewer, electric, gas, cable TV or telephone lines. It is important to do this now, as it can greatly affect the design and location of your play area.
There are many areas to consider when selecting your playground equipment. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that you divide your playground into 2 separate areas: One for 5-12-year old users and one for 2-5-year old users. Composite structures that connect many types of play activities to elevated decks can accommodate a large amount of children in a small area. These items offer climbing, sliding, social and imaginative play all in one structure. Freestanding items such as swings, climbers, imaginary panels, and rocking spring toys can be added to spread out your area and increase your play value by catering to a large variety of users.
Safety should be your No.1 concern. Select only equipment that is IPEMA (International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association) Certified. This ensures that your equipment has been third-party tested to comply with both the CPSC’s Handbook for Public Playground Safety and ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard F1487 guidelines on play equipment. To verify that your equipment complies, visit IPEMA’s website at www.ipema.org.
Accessibility is another important concern. The American Disability Act (ADA) mandates that all new and modified playgrounds must offer activities for use by children with disabilities. The accessibility requirements vary based on the size of your overall play area. At a minimum, you should consider providing an accessible path to the playground using accessible surfacing, providing transfer points on your composite structures, and adding freestanding ground-level components. Please contact one of our trained professionals to guide you through this design process.
Ask your manufacturer to provide you with scaled drawings of your play area, a 3-D rendering with your selected color scheme, and a detailed cost breakdown of all proposed expenditures including site work, equipment, shipping, tax, installation, and surfacing.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 60% of all playground injuries are due to falls to the surface. Therefore, your surfacing is just as important as your equipment.
Once you’ve decided on a manufacturer, it’s time to order your equipment. You will need to select your colors and provide a desired shipping location and contact name and number. Make sure you have a projected time frame in mind before ordering your equipment. Check with your manufacturer for shipping times and allow the proper time for installation. (Give yourself a buffer for delays due to soil conditions, weather, etc.)
Once an order is placed, your order will be manufactured and delivered to your specified location. The shipping company will call you in advance to schedule a delivery appointment. Many large items require a forklift or additional personnel, so be sure to prepare for this ahead of time. When offloading, it is very important that you inventory all items before signing for the shipment. If a shortage is discovered, you can notify your manufacturer immediately and have parts re-shipped in time for your installation.
Your equipment is ready to go, but it doesn't end there! Establish a maintenance plan and inspect your equipment regularly. The better care you take for your equipment, the longer your children can enjoy it!