Is building a public playground a goal of yours this year or next? Playgrounds help communities come together while offering kids and families a safe place to strengthen relationships, develop skills, and have fun. It only makes sense if you’re ready to get one in your neighborhood. 

But you may wonder what it will entail and how long it will take until you can get to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Keep reading to learn more.

Outlining Your Public Playground Idea

Before moving forward with your playground project, it’s best to sit down with your team and hash out your ideas. Get them down on paper, so when it’s time to start reaching out to design and equipment experts, you can be ready to collaborate, which helps speed the process. Think about these goals: 

Budget and Timeline: Perhaps the most important thing to set in stone is your budget. The budget will ultimately determine how much you can spend on equipment, surfacing, landscaping, amenities, labor, shipping, and more. This can impact your timeline, which you should also try to pin down in the beginning stages of your project. If you want to move faster, you can allocate more budget to your shipping and labor costs, for example. However, you should expect to spend most of your budget and time on equipment and its installation—no need to worry too much, though. Budget-friendly playground structures are a great option, and simple structures can have a quick turnaround. 

Location: Where do you want to build your playground? You may have a great spot in mind, but there may be some obstacles or hazards. For instance, your location could be too close to a busy road, increasing noise and posing safety risks. Ditto with features like ponds, lakes, hills, and more. While they may look great and often can be an attractive centerpiece, you’ll have to be extra conscious of safety and any related issues like maintenance. Shaded areas are ideal, but tall trees and large bushes must be landscaped, increasing regular costs. Additionally, depending on the location, you’ll need to work with various local officials to approve your project, so keep that in mind as it can slow down your timeline. 

Size and Safety: Another important factor is size. How big do you want your playground to be? The bigger it is, the more costly and time-consuming it could be, which isn’t necessarily bad if it’s within your budget or timeline. Depending on your size, you’ll also need either less or more equipment and safety surfacing, which, again, relies on your budget! The community’s safety - particularly children’s - should be a chief concern throughout the planning process. The size of your space can impact it as surfacing and equipment safety are top priorities. 

At the beginning of playground planning, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Taking a moment to outline your ideas and goals will help move the process forward and on to the fun stuff: picking equipment!

Picking the Right Outdoor Playground Equipment

Playground equipment can range from simple, classic structures like slides to more elaborate and inclusive pieces that invite all people of all ages to play. Because your public playground matters a lot to you and your community, we’ll take some time to detail suitable options for equipment and surfacing. Please note: the more elaborate pieces of equipment will generally take more time to manufacture and install!

Different Types of Playground Equipment

There are three main types of playground equipment to choose from: standalone structures, inclusive playground structures, and themed playscapes. Standalone structures will likely be familiar to you, are quick to purchase, and include items like:

  • Swings
  • Slides
  • Bridges
  • Climbers
  • Monkey bars
  • Spring riders
  • Spinners
  • Towers

These structures come in various colors, shapes, and sizes so children of all abilities and ages can enjoy them. They’re also easy to fit your budget and location! Be sure to look out for anything that could put children at risk - like a piece jutting out or something that could pinch or trip a child. It’s also wise to go for better quality when purchasing equipment because it will require less upkeep and will be less likely to break. 

You should also consider adding inclusive playground structures to your public playground to ensure that kids of all physical and social abilities can benefit from playing. Musical instruments, ramps, inclusive swing seats, sensory wave climbers, and multi-generational play activities are all accessible and inclusive. A popular piece of equipment at MRC is the Expression Swing. The Expression Swing allows for easy access to children and parents and is designed for face-to-face interactions on the playground! Our Harmonic Chimes and Rockin’ Robin are also great, budget-friendly pieces of equipment to consider. 

Lastly, a theme playscape can incorporate standalone structures and inclusive play. A themed playscape is anything designed around a theme, like a jungle, outer space, or shipwreck. Check out some themed structures we’ve helped build.

Different Types of Surfacing

While playground surfacing may not initially jump out at you, you must think about it closely! It is equally as important as the equipment and an essential requirement for building a safe public playground. There are a few types of surfacing to fit your budget, including: 

  • Recycled rubber mulch is made from 100% recycled tire rubber and has substantial impact absorption. 
  • Pour-in-place rubber consists of a unique bi-layer system that possesses optimal safety ratings and durability
  • Interlocking recycled rubber tiles is a resilient surfacing option with a maximum fall height of 12 feet. 
  • Synthetic turf offers the natural look of grass without the upkeep and has high safety ratings. 
  • Engineered wood fiber is an affordable, fast option that provides the classic look of wood chips on the playground.
  • Life foam is a rubber flooring tile explicitly designed for wet surfaces and aquatic-based playgrounds.

How Will the Supply Chain Issues Affect My Timeline?

Traditionally, having a plan for your budget, location, equipment, and surfacing meant you could get up and running with a playground project reasonably quickly. Recently, projects and customers have experienced longer than usual lead times, shipping delays, and price increases on park products due to ongoing supply chain issues.

Labor shortages in the trucking and other industries have also slowed production, and experts suspect it will continue throughout 2022, with hope for a pick-up near the end of the year. At MRC, we work with forward-thinking partners that have secured raw materials to help mitigate the slowdown. Our products are manufactured in Alabama, which can quicken shipping once equipment and amenities are completed!

Should I Work with a Playground Specialist?

As noted, working with MRC can help ensure a smooth project as we’ve taken steps to protect our work in the event of the current supply chain crisis. We can also help you through all the stages of your design and installation process, working behind the scenes to execute anything and everything from brainstorming to designing and manufacturing. We have over 40 years of experience working with customers like you, from planning to installation. All of this means we can offer you expert insight into equipment, surfacing, timing, and more to determine the best space and pieces for your new playground! Reach out today if you’re ready to go from idea to construction!