Play structures are both fun features for backyard entertainment. Play structures can be located on the ground, elevated, large, or simple. Choose a creative design theme regardless of the size. Whether customized or built from a kit, modifications may be made to the play structure’s design based on the ages and play styles of the children who will use the equipment most often. Each play structure needs to be located in a safe place, ideally with shade, and with the proper type and amount of ground surface material. Keep the structure as fun as possible while maintaining all safety guidelines.
On-the-ground play structures can be fun, simple, and frugal alternatives to the large, multi-level structure. On-the-ground play structures could be an outdoor fort with a single room, a door, window, and perhaps a flag. A small, little house could have a garden associated with it. Simple swing sets can be set adjacent to the play structure.
Play structures with more than one level can add quite a lot of adventure for the kids who use it. An elevated structure could be an elaborate castle that houses fairy tales, a replica of the family’s home, a tree house, a collection of areas without a specific theme, or other creative ideas.
Parents and kids together can design the theme of the playground to suit their style. Following are a few ideas to spark inspiration. Keep in mind that multiple structures could be built to create a “main street” scene.
Play structure kits
Consider purchasing a play structure kit for ease of design and construction effort. Play structure kits have a variety of designs, sizes, materials, and price ranges available. Each kit is equipped with detailed instructions and materials lists available to streamline the construction process. Some of the kits can be customized. Parents can rest assured that each kit has been tested and has passed national regulated safety requirements.
Decide which types of athletic events or activities are enjoyable for the children. Following are some examples from which to choose.
Other athletic features, including:
Extra fun features
Wood is commonly used for both the structural and finish materials. Metal can be used for structural or other specific parts of the structure. Plastics are also used for play features.
Falling is the greatest risk of injury for children on play structures. Therefore, ground surface materials are designed to help cushion the fall so the injury would be avoided or lessened. A grassy lawn can become compacted and hardened over time, so each play structure needs extra ground surface protection. The type and quantity of ground surface is based on the height of the structure and also on the ages of the children playing.
Surface construction tips
Ground surface chart
When using the ground surface chart, keep the following interpretations in mind:
6" of wood chips can be used for a structure up to 7' tall.
9" of wood chips can be used for a structure up to 10' tall.
|Playground equipment critical height||Wood chips (depth)||Shredded bark mulch (depth)||Play sand (depth)||Pea gravel (depth)||Recycled rubber mulch* (depth)|
6" uncompressed; 9" uncompressed; 9" compressed
6" uncompressed; 9" compressed
9" uncompressed and 9" compressed
* It is recommended that you request test data from your chosen supplier of recycled rubber mulch that shows the critical heights of the material when it was tested in accordance with ASTM F1292.
To allow for a safe play area around the structure, locate the play structure 6’ – 8’ from around any other structures, hard surfaces, roads, driveways, and even from the property’s boundaries. While it is possible to build a structure on a sloped site, most play structures are designed for level ground. If the property has low slopes, consider re-grading the site to make it more appropriate for the structure. Playground kits are designed exclusively for areas that have a level ground.
Select a site that ideally has some protection from the sun, especially for metal surfaces and slides. Consider evaluating the prevailing winds patterns that pass over the play area so that the area can cool naturally. While trees offer great shade, avoid trees that may drop sap or nuts onto the play surfaces. Also design the play structure’s location in such a way that parents can keep an eye on the playing activity.
Play structure kit construction tips
© RONA 2015, All Rights Reserved