Playground Design

As the mother of a 2.5 year old boy, and as 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. Often, too, their arrival motivates parents to seek our help.

After addressing safety concerns, the two things parents most often request are a play lawn and a play “toy.” Both are very functional and their appeal is obvious, but creative design can create space for more dynamic play and be adult-friendly, too.

We like to include natural elements to play with and on, 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 (think the board game “Chutes & Ladders”). An outdoor wall, or fence, can be painted with chalkboard paint.

The current issue of 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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