Each local playground has its own set of requirements dependent upon many factors such as the location, budget, resources available, stakeholders involved, and plenty of others.

A playground is built through the work of a number of different bodies, which all share a common goal of encouraging social, emotional, and physical development in children.

In Vancouver, they have recently created the School PLAYbook which serves as a guide for schools, and how they can best innovate their playgrounds so that it fosters child development, prevents injuries, encourages smart and creative landscape architecture, and promotes sustainable use of materials.

It is a collaborative project involving the city’s parents, educators, school board, landscape architects, pediatricians, and the community where the goal is to transform playgrounds for over tens of thousands of students.

The School PLAYbook however, is not limited to public playgrounds alone. You need not to look further than your own backyard or your neighborhood playground to apply the best practices outlined in the PLAYbook.

In this article, we outline the different ways that you can design ground surfaces that follow the principles of the School PLAYbook.

  1. Measure foot traffic

When designing the hardscape surface, think about how much foot traffic the area will receive. High foot traffic areas will require the use of durable materials like concrete or asphalt with application of specialized coatings for colour and design treatment to the surface.

  1. Use asphalt when covering large areas

If you’re covering a large playground area, asphalt is an ideal material to use. Stamped asphalt and specialized safe hardscape coating treatments are surface treatment that can create more interesting playground surfaces once colour or pattern is added.

  1. Use soft material on fall zones

The playground gives children many opportunities to move freely but it comes at the risk of injury. To minimize this, consider including safety surfaces under playground equipment by using soft materials in case a child falls. Poured rubber is an excellent option as it provides a spongy surface to protect a child who is falling.

  1. Experiment with sloped surfaces

Experiment with differently shaped and coloured surfaces that children can play around on like a mound. Rubber mounds are great for cushioning and allows kids to play safely since the material can break their fall. You can make these surfaces have different depths using poured rubber and because the material comes in assorted colors, the opportunities for making different patterns, colours, and design styles are endless.

  1. Make the surface fun

Add a splash of color to the surface. Playground surfaces need not to be boring. You can use specialized durable, anti-slip coating systems on asphalt and concrete playground surfaces to invite several play opportunities like hopscotch, compass, and twister. Some patterns don’t even have to be specific to games but can be in a wide range of colours that allow kids to be creative in their play.

  1. Add educational elements

Take a cue from schools who incorporate educational themes into their schoolyard by adding maps, poetry, equations, shapes, and patterns using safe and durable coating systems that adhere to asphalt and concrete surfaces. Certain playgrounds invite a certain age group of kids so be sure to incorporate designs that are appropriate for their age.

In Summary

When designing a playground hardscape surface for your kid’s play environment, be sure to follow these best practices. Talk to your child or consult with your neighbors to see what elements they might like to add. Consider involving other stakeholders depending on how big your project is. Doing this ensures that everyone is happy with the outcome.