If you have children, you may want an area in your backyard for them and their friends to climb and play, to be active and happy, all without leaving home.
It’s never been easier to install a backyard playground. All it takes is some basic construction know-how, the right materials and the time it takes to bring it all together.
What is the hardest part? You know, the part that usually gets skipped or shortchanged. It’s typically the planning phase.
Whether it’s a “do-it-yourself” project or a professional installation, here are some factors to take into account before and during construction.
Set Your Budget
Before the installation begins, familiarize yourself with average costs, brands, and options as you price out and plan the project.
The price of playground equipment ranges between $100 and $5,000, according to Home Advisor. The equipment you choose, the type of safety surface you get, and the cost to level your yard are all factors that could bump the price up.
Another factor to consider is whether to contract out the labor and installation. There are local handymen and playground specialists available to help with installation and construction. If your play area is small, you may decide the “do-it-yourself” route suits your project—just make sure you get the help you need when you are assembling the equipment or operating any heavy equipment.
Choose Your Play Features
While designing your background playground, safety should be your priority. This means choosing age-appropriate equipment. For example, you might think twice about swing sets or merry-go-rounds if your children are toddlers.
Do you have children of different ages? You should see to it that preschoolers do not wander into areas meant for older children, where they are more likely to be injured.
Children’s minds are developing quickly, so every age group will be stimulated by different activities, challenges, and designs. Keep your project focused on the age of your children and don’t cut corners on safety, and you’ll be off to a fantastic start.
What kind of play features do you envision? You can find options as simple as a single swing or as complex as a tower with multiple slides. Play sets, sandboxes, and water tables round out your options.
We suggest that you keep the design simple. Simple playground features such as swings and slides never go out of fashion. But you can also use natural features such as a large tree and climbing rocks.
Most home-use play sets should give you 8 or 10 years of use. With proper maintenance and mild weather, that can go up to 15 years.
Again, the equipment you install in your play area should coincide with the age of your children. Equipment that is too large and challenging should be avoided, as this may lead to injuries.
You may want to add to your play area as your children grow so that it holds their interest over time. Thanks to the modular design of today’s playground equipment, this is quite easy to do.
Choose the Site
The success of your playground depends in large part upon the site you choose to install it.
All too often, moms and dads invest in creative backyard playground ideas before they’ve closely surveyed the plane they’ve selected as a construction site. For example, a leveled area is typically what you want. If you have a hilly or uneven yard, you might have to budget for the price to clear and level the land.
Check for site dimensions. Pending the fall height, most play equipment requires a minimum of at least 3 feet of clear space on each side. You will also want to consider clearance for swings.
In addition to the dimensions of the site, you will want to consider water levels, predictable weather patterns, whether debris can fall into the play area, and irregularities in the terrain.
Be sure to measure everything carefully; you don’t want to start digging until you’re sure what you’re doing!
Finally, before you move forward with site prep or buying any playground equipment, make sure you check and comply with all local laws. Some municipalities require homeowners to apply for a permit.
Choose Your Surfacing Material Wisely
Remember when we said the planning phase is where mistakes usually happen when moms and dads install backyard playgrounds? These mistakes include failing to install adequate safety surfacing.
Choosing the appropriate residential playground surfacing is essential to making modern playgrounds both safe and attractive. That’s where No Fault can help!
Playground safety surfacing is a must to keep your children safe. This is where many people go for cheaper options (wood chips, gravel, or sand). Overtime, these surfaces can disburse across the ground or begin to decompose – in the case of wood chips- causing the homeowner to have to continuously replenish the materials to meet the minimum safety standards. If you consider the long-term work required to maintain these “less expensive” options, not to mention the increased risk of injury that comes with using them, this quickly becomes a case of “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Instead, consider using surfaces such as No Fault Safety Surface, No Fault Safety Tiles, or No Fault Rubber Mulch, which will absorb impacts when the inevitable falls happen. Our soft rubber tiles, for example, are kid-friendly, relatively easy to install, slip-resistant and ideal for rainy areas where drainage is a concern.
You’ll probably want a boundary for the play area. Again, there are materials you should and shouldn’t use.
For example, wood timbers or rocks piled around the edges are common choices, but they are trip hazards, and they create hard surfaces. No Fault Timbers are a superior alternative, giving you attractive borders with rounded top for added safety.
Get Help Assembling the Equipment
Now, it’s time to put it all together. The more people involved, the faster the work will go. Decks, platforms, stairways … all of it will need to be assembled using the proper tools, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Attaching the elements to the main play structure brings everything all together and the finished shape of the play structure begins to emerge.
As you’re putting equipment together, use a builder’s level to make sure holes are at the proper depth. This will ensure a smooth process when you’re assembling your playground equipment. Level the decks and check the joints before pouring concrete to anchor your equipment.
A builder’s level will keep everything on an even surface.
Think About the Surrounding Landscaping
The surrounding landscape of your backyard playground should be carefully organized. You probably don’t want your beautiful flower garden in this area. Children at play tend to not pay much attention to roses, daffodils and azaleas while they’re swinging, climbing, and tumbling around.
When planning your garden around the play area, make sure you plant durable and low-maintenance plants and shrubs in and around your backyard playground.
Consider a Shade or Shelter
Bad weather can often play spoilsport for your children. To address this issue, you can add a shade structure or canopy to protect your children from sunburns, or a shelter to ensure they stay dry. If your play area is available “rain or shine,” your children will be more likely to play outside instead of getting “cabin fever” indoors!
Don’t Forget the Fence
You probably already have a fence around your property. But if your children are spending lots of time outside, you’ll want to keep unwanted visitors out. Privacy is important, especially in suburban and urban areas. If you live in rural areas, fencing also protects your outdoor structures from being damaged by wandering animals. Placing a fence around the property also protects you as a parent from the liability of other neighborhood children playing on the equipment without your knowledge.
Keep an Eye On the Children
Children need close supervision, as they tend to play with anything and everything. During the early days when your children are still learning about the backyard, you should watch them carefully to ensure their safety.
It’s important that you have a good view of the playground from your house. The playground should be in such a spot that it also gives a clear ear shot because then you can clearly hear your children playing.
Before you get started with your backyard playground, consider all the above factors to keep your children safe. Your backyard playground will take time and careful planning, but in the end your children will have a wonderful, safe play area just outside your back door.
Contact No Fault to speak with one of our Regional Account Managers. They can assist you in choosing just the right playground surfacing for your backyard play area to meet your budget and to keep your children safe and happy!