Skip to content

11 Ways to Improve Your Playground

Unique ways to Improve your Playground
Home | Playgrounds, Blog | 11 Ways to Improve Your Playground

If your school or business has plans to improve your commercial playground, there are several options to choose from. Finding unique solutions can help you make updates that support the playground’s and visitors’ needs.

Read the full article or jump to a specific section:

How to Improve Your Commercial Playground

Playground improvements can be more than completely renovating the equipment and redesigning the space. With many options available for playground designers, you can find what solution works best for you, whether meeting your budget or keeping the playground open for visitors during working hours. Notable improvements can help your playground stand out and draw new and returning visitors.

1. Add Permanent Game Markings

Permanent game markings are a great way to improve your playground simply. Kids often bring or use chalk at the playground to use empty spaces, like blacktops and sidewalks, where they can play their favorite games. Adding these games as permanent features can ensure children can always play, even if they don’t have the supplies they need to set it up. Some games include:

  • Hopscotch: Hopscotch is a classic chalk game that offers kids several benefits, from coordination and balance to counting practice. Kids can use this game to play with others, share spaces, take turns and wait. Depending on your area, your design can include one or several hopscotch boards.
  • Four square: While four square requires a ball, it is another excellent collaborative game kids can play with strangers or friends. Kids will wait in line when it isn’t their turn and practice good sportsmanship when they get out. Including a permanent square designates a space for this game on your playground, so kids always have a chance to play.
  • Tic-tac-toe: Kids can try their hand at tic-tac-toe for a more strategic game. They can mark their moves with chalk or things they find around the playground, like sticks or stones. Because only two kids can play at a time, it is another great practice in taking turns, sharing and waiting.
  • Shoots and ladders: Transform flat, open spaces into a classic board game where kids play as the pieces themselves. They can play together to race to the finish line while avoiding the shoots and aiming for the ladders to move forward.

Your organization can also transform open areas into spaces that inspire imaginative and creative play by painting paths and roads. Kids can pretend they are in a town with streets guiding them to different places. Features like this allow kids to expand their minds and create unique games themselves.

Open spaces on playgrounds are essential for kids and offer several types of play. Kids can have more control over how they interact with these spaces, from playing sports to games like jump rope and hopscotch. Offering permanent game features can inspire kids to learn new games or engage with old favorites.

2. Zone Your Playground

zone your playground

While playgrounds can have cohesive themes, many designers organize equipment and spacing into zones, depending on the type of play. This system can help keep different play types separate, allowing the kids in each zone to get the whole experience of their playtime uninterrupted. Zoning can be a great way to optimize the available space.

Zones include:

  • Jungle gyms.
  • Swings and monkey bars.
  • Sports fields and blacktops.
  • Open play areas.
  • Socialization and mindfulness spaces.
  • Nature areas.

Zoning is also an excellent solution for creating a playground that works for several age groups. Younger children and older kids have very different play styles and needs, so zoning can help develop areas that allow each one to play thoroughly. For example, younger kids might love to swing but could have difficulty getting on them. You might implement a new swing zone for younger kids with a smaller set that accommodates their size.

Zones are a great way to update the playground without disrupting the whole playground, especially if upgrading your playground in increments.

3. Think About Caregiver Needs

caregivers need to be comfortable

Kids will appreciate new equipment or other upgrades, but your school or business can also make noticeable improvements for caregivers. Caregivers need comfortable spaces to rest and relax while maintaining visibility to their kids. When determining what modifications you might need, consider adding more benches and tables where parents can gather and watch playing children.

Playgrounds are already critical social spaces for kids, but catering to caregivers helps them connect with others in the community. Adults can socialize and make friends at the playground while their kids do the same and get physical activity.

4. Bring Nature to Your Playground

Nature can benefit community individuals, especially those in cities or urban areas. Exposure to nature can help increase focus and reduce stress, so adding it to your playground can improve its mental and cognitive benefits.

Kids can use nature to inspire their curiosity or learn more about their world. They might use natural elements as part of their pretend play, turning trees into a magical forest. On the other hand, they might notice new things, like caterpillars or the leaves changing color with the seasons.

When bringing nature to the playground, there are several options. Depending on your location and space, you can plant trees, shrubs or plants. Your team can also invest in equipment that resembles nature, like playground pieces designed to look like trees and flowers.

5. Include Artistic Elements

Art and Music are great for emotional and physical development

Each kid has a different play style, and your design can include commercial or school playground improvements to enhance alternative experiences. While many kids go to the playground for physical activity, some might prefer other types of play, like pretend play or artistic expression.

Art and music are great for emotional and physical development, allowing kids to develop fine motor skills and learn how to turn their emotions into physical works. Many kids use art and music as a form of self-expression, and it can help them develop a stronger sense of self. Consider bringing the arts to the playground by implementing open blacktop or chalkboard spaces where kids can draw, or investing in playground equipment that makes noise and resembles musical instruments.

While this space is great for kids who prefer this play type, it can encourage all children to slow down and take a break from playing. Breaks are essential for teaching kids to listen to their body’s limits and care for themselves, whether they need to catch their breath or rest their muscles. Artistic or musical elements offer them a chance to slow down.

6. Consider Water Features

For something unique that will help your playground stand out, implement a water feature. Fountains, sprinklers and splash pads are great ways to engage kids in the warmer months and keep them returning to your playground year-round.

Water features are also great playground additions for creating more accessible and inclusive activities. You can work with designers to create a water feature that kids of all ages and abilities can play in.

7. Diversify Play Opportunities

Other Equipment types give kids different play experiences

Diversifying your overall equipment can help your school or business upgrade your playground. Other equipment types give kids different play experiences, keeping them engaged when they visit and giving them something to look forward to.

Diversify equipment by considering some of the following:

  • Swings, slides and monkey bars
  • Climbing equipment and rope courses
  • Sandboxes
  • Playhouses
  • Tunnels
  • Open spaces, like blacktops and fields

Each piece of equipment has unique benefits for kids when playing and offers a new way to play. You could also diversify your playground by investing in more inclusive equipment that kids of all abilities can play with. Inclusive equipment helps promote empathy and other social skills as children play with more kids in various situations.

8. Incorporate Color Psychology

Refresh your playground and its look by repainting it or changing its color scheme. Many playgrounds use a specific color palette to help add to the aesthetic value, along with chosen equipment or an overall theme. Color psychology can help you develop a particular theme that better aligns with your playground’s purpose.

Colors can influence how people interact with your playgrounds. Red, orange and yellow are associated with higher energy, perfect for playgrounds that encourage physical activity and active play. Cooler tones like green, blue and purple help calm people and inspire creativity. You can use these colors on playgrounds where pretend play is popular.

You can also mix the color schemes across zones to encourage different types of play. Consider warmer colors in spaces where kids can engage in active play while establishing creative play areas with blues and greens. Different colors are a great way to distinguish between different zones and their purposes.

9. Provide Shaded Spaces

Playgrounds can invest in quality shade structures

Shade is essential at the playground, giving kids and caregivers a break from the sun and heat. Shaded areas provide caregivers a space to comfortably watch kids in a cooler space on the playground. These zones can encourage kids to take breaks by giving them a designated area to rest.

Trees offer great natural shade, but some playgrounds lack the necessary space for the number of trees needed to create good shade portions. Instead, playgrounds can invest in quality shade structures, which fit into your playground’s visuals and themes while providing extensive coverage from the sun and adverse weather.

10. Update Light Fixtures

Many playgrounds and parks have light features to make the property more accessible after the sun goes down. Upgrading your current lights can expand your park’s hours, especially during the winter when there is less daylight. Having strong lights can encourage kids to get valuable hours of physical activity when they might otherwise not have time, promoting healthier habits.

Light fixtures in parks and playgrounds can also help deter crime or vandalism in some communities. Your playground’s design can promote healthier habits in kids while creating more welcoming neighborhoods.

11. Refresh Playground Amenities

Many playgrounds have features other than playground equipment, and upgrading them can benefit your visitors. Some amenities to consider include:

  • Pavement and blacktop: From parking lots to basketball courts, playgrounds can include several types of paved areas that need refreshing over time. Winters can cause potholes and cracks in the pavement, decreasing the quality of these areas. Painted lines fade over time with exposure to the sun and weather. Repave and paint these areas for a refreshed playground that meets your visitors’ needs.
  • Restrooms: Some playgrounds have bathrooms nearby, which can draw families with young children or people who want to spend longer playing at the playground. However, restrooms require regular maintenance and cleaning. Renovate your bathrooms or give them a deep cleaning to impress your guests.
  • Seating areas: While benches and picnic tables can last extended periods outdoors with slight changes to their function, your organization can refresh these features annually with a fresh layer of paint, helping them fit into your playground’s theme and aesthetic. Inspect them regularly for rust or wear, so you can replace them as necessary, ensuring visitors always have somewhere secure and comfortable to sit.

You likely want your playground and its features to remain the main focus, but offering additional services for visitors keeps them returning to your park again.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Playground

While implementing unique improvements to your playground can draw new visitors and offer new experiences for kids, boosting your playground offers several overall benefits.

Enhances Playground Benefits

Playgrounds allow people to make meaningful connections

Playgrounds already offer several essential benefits to kids and communities, including:

  • Gathering places for communities: Parks and playgrounds are crucial spaces for communities, giving them places to come together and interact. Kids can make countless new friends on the playground, whether they play with someone new for the afternoon or meet up every week with the same group of kids. Playgrounds allow people to make meaningful connections and serve as public meeting spaces.
  • Increasing physical activity in kids: Playgrounds offer all kinds of inclusion benefits. As community areas, kids interact with other children from different backgrounds, helping grow their empathy and teaching them that others have unique experiences that might be different from their own. Playgrounds can incorporate inclusive play equipment where kids with disabilities can also get outside and play.
  • Developing physical health and skills: Playgrounds encourage physical activity, helping prevent certain conditions, like obesity, in kids. Playgrounds and play help kids develop a healthy relationship with physical activity and form healthy exercise habits as teens and adults. Younger kids can use play to develop fine and gross motor skills, helping them learn coordination and balance while strengthening specific muscles and bone density.
  • Improving social development: Games and collaborative play can teach children how to share, take turns and communicate, which they can apply to other situations. While kids might understand specific social rules like waiting in line for their turn, playing on the playground lets them put their knowledge into practice. Playgrounds are optimal places for social practice because the stakes are low — they can make mistakes with minor consequences.
  • Aiding emotional growth: Kids experience many emotions daily but often lack the communication skills to express themselves. Pretend and individual play can help kids process emotions by acting out how they feel. Different zones can help kids learn their strengths, giving them higher confidence and a sense of self.

When upgrading a playground, your organization can ensure visitors experience these benefits to the fullest. Old, rundown playgrounds might deter certain growth areas, reducing the need for them within the community. You can help maintain the playground’s importance by improving it to meet community and individual needs.

Keeps Kids Engaged

open spaces allow kids more control over their play experience

Playgrounds encourage specific types of play, but playground equipment is constantly evolving and improving. Your organization will discover new types of equipment to engage your visitors in different ways during the upgrading process. While equipment like slides, swings and monkey bars are standard playground features, you can include others.

Sensory play equipment is excellent for developing motor and cognitive skills in kids, but it can also provide play opportunities while resting from physical activity. Artistic and musical equipment can inspire creativity and personal expression. Open spaces allow kids more control over their play experience, determining what they play with and how they do it.

Upgrading your playground lets your organization offer new and exciting experiences that meet kids’ play standards and excites them.

Increases Inclusion

You can also use updates to make your playground more inclusive. Upgrading an existing playground allows you to understand your community and its needs better.

You might notice your playground attracts many toddlers, but your playground’s design is mainly for school-aged children. Playground updates can address specific needs, so the design can include equipment for toddlers, enhancing their experience at your playground.

If your playground has limited accessibility for kids with disabilities, upgrading can help increase it. Consider offering new equipment with room for wheelchairs or more aids for kids with limited mobility. Increased space allows caregivers and older kids to play alongside children, encouraging bonding through play.

Why Your Organization Should Invest in Playground Shade Structures

shade is ideal for summer and sunny days

Shade structures are excellent resources for providing increased comfort at your playground. Shade is ideal for summer and sunny days when the heat can otherwise drive kids indoors. Shade structures can offer several other unique benefits to playgrounds, including:

  • Blocking the sun: While blocking the sun reduces the temperature on the playground, it also protects visitors from the sun’s powerful UV rays. USA SHADE’s shade structures offer 97% UV ray protection for comprehensive comfort and coverage. Our shade structures are great for individuals at risk of suffering heat exhaustion, like young kids and the elderly, by reducing the temperature and increasing comfort.
  • Providing shelter from the weather: Shade structures can provide cover when the weather unexpectantly turns, giving guests a place to rest and wait to continue playing. Our fabric shade structures block around 60 to 70% of water and other precipitation, so your property has a space to keep your visitors more sheltered during the rain. Additionally, the fabric allows for consistent airflow for continual comfort, even when the weather is nice.
  • Lengthening equipment life span: Consider placing shade structures around your playground. While many designers use them to create comfortable shaded seating areas, you can also place them over equipment to provide shaded play solutions. Kids can stay cooler while playing, and the shade structures can protect playground equipment from fading in the sun, allowing it to last longer.
  • Enhancing playground aesthetic: Our shade structures are customizable, allowing your organization to work with designers to create the shade structure that perfectly matches your playground’s look. We offer several fabric options to match colors and many designs and collections with unique shade structures that work well for playgrounds.

Shade structures are great shade solutions to apply to your playground to increase comfort and provide the best care for kids and their caregivers.

Invest in Quality Shade Structures From USA SHADE

Improving your playground offers several benefits, and there are several unique approaches to finding the solution that works perfectly for your organization’s location and needs. As you implement improvements to your commercial playground, consider the benefits shade structures can provide.

At USA SHADE, we offer high-quality and functioning playground shade structures you can use to provide increased comfort and aesthetic appeal at your playground. Our shade structures can fit in with existing systems, easily integrating into your playground for instant improvements.

Request a quote today and discover what USA SHADE shade structures can add to your playground.

Invest in Quality Shade structures from USA SHADE