Category Archives: Playground Planning

Playground Maintenance: 10 Things you Better Not Overlook

Playground Safety: 10 Maintenance Check Points on your Playground

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 9″ of loose-fill rubber, 9″ of certified EWF (Engineered Wood Fiber), 12″ of un-tested wood mulch; or include mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends; in back and front; twice the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends. These can catch on clothing such as hoodies, or loose clothes.
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls and the climbers have no more than a 15″ space to access/exit.
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.

Above all, make sure your equipment is age-appropriate in  design.  Kids will challenge and regulate themselves during free play, and you’ll find that your “safe” low level platforms and climbers are being used inappropriately by older kids that aren’t being stimulated.

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a public playground project in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, or North Carolina and would like design advice, please contact us.

Save Thousands By Installing Your Playground Equipment As a Community Build

One of the best ways to stretch your playground budget is by having a community build to install your playground equipment. Considering installations run between 25-40% of your total budget, it can be a disappointment to know that $6000 of a $10000 budget actually goes toward the equipment, while the rest is applied to installation/shipping/mulch/borders/taxes, etc. Those who install their own playground gain a sense of ownership and responsibility toward the finished project, and the pride felt by the volunteers in their accomplishment translates into pride toward the school or the community. You’d be surprised the number of people willing and able to put their tools & efforts to work.

What is needed for your playground installation: Unfortunately, the major power tools should be left at home. The only major tools/equipment (assuming the site is level) are an auger/bobcat and a great attitude.  Depending on the scale of your installation, the community build can be completed in a day or two (weather & volunteers permitting).  Usually, the day prior to build is spent laying and punching the holes; prepping the components; and laying out the equipment in advance of your volunteers. The key to organization is having activities for everyone to do, without requiring a lot of cooks in the kitchen.  The groups can be split into teams to tackle the various phases:

  • offloading and unpacking  and sorting equipment
  • site preparation
  • post and platform assembly
  • panel and component assembly
  • borders and mulch installation team
  • 1 or 2 runners for hardware/tooling drinks & food
  • Project managers to coordinate the event.

The most important priority is to remember that this should be FUN!!!!  Ask local companies to donate goods or services to the Build Day, from construction materials to food and beverages. Offer free publicity or advertising on your playspace’s signage as an extra enticement. Here are a few more tips:

  1. Check before you dig!!!! Call ahead to have your local services identified on your build site—includes sprinkler lines
  2. Verify that your design plans and installation instructions are in-line with site
  3. Offload and secure equipment until build day
  4. Review all of the installation instructions thoroughly before build day
  5. Make sure the site has been prepared properly, i.e. less than 2% grade
  6. Secure area off for 72 hrs to allow concrete to cure
  7. Secure area from access if no surfacing has been installed
  8. Provide adequate dumpster and haul off packaging

COMMUNITY BUILD PLAYGROUND

TOOLS & RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. Customer to dig and clean holes and remove spoils. This must be done a minimum of one day before the actual build day.  Customer is responsible to meet and unload truck and assist in sorting hardware if we are providing supervision on build day.
  2. Manufacturer Representatives will assist and laser holes in some cases if we are also providing supervision.
  3. Customer to provide and install concrete and provide 2” thick concrete paver blocks(stepping stones) to be placed in the bottom of the main structure holes.
  4. Recommended Tools:
  • a.      14” – 18” Auger bit – 12” minimum-Recommend using a Bobcat with auger attachment
  • b.      Post hole diggers – 2 or 3
  • c.      Tape Measures – Long and Short
  • d.      2 Foot Level – 1 or 2
  • e.      4 Foot Level – 1 or 2
  • f.       Ladders – 2 each 6 foot or 8 foot or possible other heights
  • g.      Torpedo Levels – 12” Magnetic – 2-3
  • h.      Various Shovels and Garden Rakes
  • i.        Ratchets Wrenches 3/8” – 4-5
  • j.        9/16” sockets – 4-5
  • k.      Electric Drills – 2 – Don’t recommend cordless
  • l.        ¼” Drill Bits – 4-5
  • m.   Extension Cords
  • n.      Water Hose and Nozzle
  • o.      Wheel Barrow – 3-4
  • p.      Pry Bar (Digging Bar) 6 foot – 1 – CRITICAL
  • q.      Concrete
  • r.       2 – 4               8ft pressure treated 2 x 4’s
  • s.      2 Tables 3×6 or 3×8 in width and length or 2 picnic tables.
  • t.       2 Long handle sledge hammers if plastic border timbers  ordered
  • u.     4-6 Milk crates used for various purposes

Playground Design – What you Should Know

Playground Design-What you Should Know

Good playground design involves balancing your children’s needs, volume, age distribution, developmental aspects, and site conditions. Assess your present space by drawing a rough diagram. Include the seasonal aspects of your layout including sunlight, wind direction, snow/ice/rain. Observe the following:

  • type and amount of natural materials
  • small vs. large space
  • topographical features, e.g. steep slopes, trees, rocks
  • shared spaces with other age groups
  • shaded area–either hard shelter or shade structure

You’ll need assess the following site conditions:

1. Measure your site and scale to your drawing. Triangulate your area be placing flags that will act as your measuring points, e.g. pt A, pt B, pt C. You’ll then be able to take effective measurements as triangles. Once you have all sides to a triangle, e.g. A to B to C, you’ll be able to calculate the area for your playground. The site can be split into rectangles, triangles and circles as you place your flags.

2. Identify all existing elements on the site: paths, trees, shrubs, fencing, buildings, large rocks, drainage, and swales.

3. Identify the plants and trees present and check that are all nontoxic

4. Note any areas affected by the sun, shade, wind, rain, and snow

5. Locate any underground services, such as sewer, water and gas. Any overhead power or phone lines? Any overhanging roof or tree branches?

6. Indicate any natural slopes or valleys

7. Identify any drainage problems

8. Determine if there’s a connection to water for play activities

Operational aspects:

In addition to overall environment, address the folloiwing:

* How will it be financed?

* What are the zoning requirements? What permits are needed?

* Determine the best source for evaluating, and ordering equipment and materials. KorKat can assist with the initial design and specifications for obtaining quotations.

* Consider your installation method–self-install, community build, turn-key installation

* Who will do landscaping and initial site preparation?

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a playground in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, or North Carolina and would like additional advice as to making the most of an existing budget, please contact us at www.korkat.com