What to think about when designing a playground

Playgrounds are a fundamental feature of a community or school. They provide children and parents with an opportunity for healthy active play and learning. Designing a playground requires a range of considerations during planning. There are many aspects to a playground, and the bespoke design for each will depend on many things including location, the size of the area and any playground equipment that might be put in place. Other considerations include the climate conditions where the playground is, whether it will be in a preschool, school or public space and much more. Here we will cover the main considerations of playground design

1. Location

One of the principal considerations of playground design is location. For example, indoor playgrounds require less covering and can make use of equipment that may not be appropriate for outdoors. Additionally, there are considerations for playgrounds in an urban environment. Urban spaces tend to be more compact, so the layout requires intelligent planning to make use of the space effectively. In an urban environment making use of surface markings can add a sense of colour and vibrancy without taking up any additional space. Animal prints can provide a stimulating visual for nursery children and do not impose on playground equipment.

2. Incorporate nature

A wonderful aspect of the outdoor playground is that it encourages children to engage with nature. One of the best ideas for nurturing this spirit of interaction is by incorporating elements of nature into the playground design. Trees can also provide cover from the sun. The sunshine can be harmful to children, so there is a practical element to them as well as an aesthetic one. Choosing any type of tree will depend on the location of the playground. Natural elements are lovely to look at, but require attention. The design of any playground incorporating nature must be in balance with the amount of maintenance it will have when operational.

Outdoor Games for Teenagers

3. Consider materials

The materials appropriate for a playground will depend on factors such as location, climate and budget. The following are some things to consider when choosing materials for use in the design and construction of a playground:


Metal recreational equipment, such as slides and seesaws, can become very hot in the sun. Therefore it is important to take this into account. Contrastingly, metal play structures offer great durability and stability.


Wooden playground structures can be a good option for areas that experience high heat. The softer nature of wood also also provides an element of protection, so choosing wooden equipment may be an appropriate option


Plastic is one of the softer and more durable materials people can choose. It is also capable of withstanding weather conditions that wood or metal may not be able to – such as cold and rain. Plastic play equipment can also be less costly.


Surfaces are important in playground design. They must be suitable for outdoor activity in terms of safety and durability. This is why we use modern thermoplastic materials. It is also important to choose surface materials that do not degrade easily.

4. Games

Games can help children in a playground interact with each other and the social element of this type of activity is essential for healthy development. Games can also incorporate learning, providing an enjoyable out of classroom experience. Adding playground markings with games such as hopscotch to the design is a good way of incorporating fun while providing a safe surface. Markings featuring mazes and roadways can also capture the imagination of children. Our own thermoplastic markings offer children a secure and functional environment to learn and play. They resist heat and use non-toxic materials, they are also environmentally friendly and so pose no danger to the environment.

5. Safety

Knowing a child is safe is important for any parent, so safety is a prime consideration. We only use safe, non-toxic materials in our own surfaces for playgrounds, but it is important to consider all aspects of safety during the design process.

Elements of playground safety to think about include the following:

  • Equipment: Slides and swings, while enjoyable, may not be suitable for small children. So when designing a nursery playground, for example, this may not be appropriate for safe play.
  • Surfaces: Surfaces in playgrounds need to be able to cater to the usual activities of a child, which may occasionally involve tumbles and falls. Using materials such as thermoplastic will help absorb any impacts.
  • Age appropriateness: While children of many ages can play together, it is essential to consider safety for small children. Separate areas for nursery children can help achieve a suitable environment and can fit into a design inclusive for all children.

Another key component of playground safety is maintenance. Certain pieces of equipment require more maintenance to function appropriately than others. Making sure the overall playground design factors this in will increase overall safety.

playground safety

6. Think of parents and guardians

Some playgrounds, such as school playgrounds, do not necessarily need to consider the needs of adults. However, public and community playgrounds will usually have some use by adults. While they may not actively play, parents and guardians need to mind their child in a comfortable atmosphere and will require some consideration. Giving thought to any adults using a playground increases the overall functionality. Benches and tables can give parents the space they need to keep their child’s outdoor activity something tolerable and pleasant. Suitable litter receptacles will also be a boon to parents who may require their use.

Playground design ideas for healthy activity

Designing a playground is a process with many considerations to take into account. However, it can be difficult to get the correct balance of design, safety and functionality. We provide our playground markings with a balance of functional design and appropriate materials to maximise children’s potential for outdoor learning and play. You can enquire today for a bespoke solution to your playground project.