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New Playground Budgeting: What You Need to Know

If you are considering a new playground for your school or for a public space, it is important that you take the time to budget carefully. The cost of well-designed playground begins at around $20,000 and can be as high as $150,000+ – a significant investment that requires meticulous planning.

The number of users that are expected to use the playground is one of the key influences on playground budgets. However, it is easy to forget that there are more expenses to consider than just playground equipment. Other budgeting considerations include site preparation, playground undersurfacing, shade and landscaping.

We have compiled a range of factors that should be considered when budgeting and whether or not you need to incorporate them into the playground cost estimate

Playground Size

How many children do you expect to use the playground? Think about the catchment area of your park, or the size of your school. This will affect the size and type of equipment you will need. If you have limited space, such as within school grounds, you might need to think creatively about how  you maximise play opportunities within a smaller play structure.

Bear in mind that for a playground to comply with Australia playground standards it must have the appropriate space around the equipment, called a fall zone or impact area. Whether the playground is in Melbourne or Perth, safety and regulatory standards mandate playground equipment needs to have sufficient surrounding space where children when falling from an elevated area can pass through safely. Having sufficient impact areas not only makes your playground compliant but also reduces safety hazards for children.

Impact areas must be free of all obstacles and have an impact attenuating surface like mulch or rubber. This should be considered when designing and budgeting for a new playground.

Playground Style And Features

Special features can impact the cost of a playground. Custom elements, such as ramps, bridges to existing landscaping or special panels or materials can entail additional costs. But such features can help make your playground inclusive and aid children in their activities, development of social skills and entertainment. With these features you also get a much more attractive playground, creating a much more complete look.

If you are building a community playground, consider the site amenities as well. These could include bicycle racks, grills, benches, tables and other amenities that make the playground a great gathering space for everyone.

Playground Users

Consider the playground users ability and age. If you intend to create an inclusive playground where play is available to all children, additional or special elements will likely need to be included within the playground design. Items such as ramps can be a larger investment that traditional playground access components, however, are important to enabling less abled children access play. Inclusive play can be addressed with smart design and considered selection of products without additional investment.

Children play differently and they develop different skills at different ages. Whether it be a climbing unit or tower with a slide, each piece of equipment can be used to differing degrees depending on the user’s ability. Of course, more challenging equipment can be more fully utilised by older children who will have more developed skills than very young children.

Site Preparation

If the suggested site for your playground isn’t level or needs clearing, this might entail some excavation to bring it to a state that is suitable for a playground installation. Consider, also, if you need to demolish any existing structures.

For revamping older playgrounds, make sure to evaluate your options. Do you want to keep or update equipment elements? Or do you prefer to revamp the entire space and start from scratch? Either way, site preparation must be a factor when you run the numbers for your playground project.

Playground Undersurfacing

After playground equipment, playground undersurfacing is often the next most costly part of a play space. When choosing the undersurfacing material, think about the initial cost as well as ongoing maintenance. Rubber surfaces, for example, require more upfront investment, however require less maintenance, whereas mulch will need to be topped up and respread regularly. Read about the pros and cons of different playground undersurfacing.

Shade

Nowadays, with a focus on sun safe play, many school and public play spaces incorporate some type shade, which needs to be factored into the budget. Work with our consultants or a shade expert on how you can incorporate shade into your playground while keeping your vision for the space. These individuals will also help you select appropriate shade structures and other features you should include in your project cost estimate.

Landscaping

We recommend as a minimum to have some type of border around your playground to keep it neat and contained. Landscaping for school and community playgrounds is different. For instance, for public play spaces, you may have to consider fencing, plantings, benches, tables, bicycles racks, drinking fountains, dog bowls and waste bins to complete the feature and make these spaces welcoming for everyone.

Typical Playground Budget

Below, we have included a table of indicative budgets for a playground, with the percentage of what is commonly spent on different elements within a play space. Of course, this will differ from project to project, but may help in your planning process.

How adventure+ Helps

At adventure+, our consultants can help you plan your playground project and design equipment suited to  your needs. Additional to playground equipment, we can provide an entire play space package including undersurfacing, borders and minor landscaping.

We aim to create playgrounds that achieve maximum value for children, schools, local councils and developers.

Need help planning your playground budget?

Call us today on 1300 237 587. Our specialist consultants are here to guide you.

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