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Green and tan colored park in middle of trees

A Step by Step Guide to Playground Installation

Installing your own playground can be a fulfilling task for you and your community. Many find that getting a community together to build a playground for children is a great way to promote unity and build spirit within the community. It can result in more active members of the community and long-lasting friendships, much like what the playground itself provides for a child. If you decide to go with the community build method, here are some tips to help the process go smoothly! First, it is extremely important to at least one Certified Playground Safety Inspector to be sure that the playground is safe for years to come. Many community builds will also use the help of contractors or professional installers so they can ensure the job is done correctly and can answer any questions the community may have. 

Site Preparation

When you begin the process of installation, remember that playgrounds take time. Be reasonable with yourself and your community about the timeline for your playground. The structures can be put up in as little as a day, but making sure site preparation is taken care of can take months. 

Once you have the site and the clearance to begin installations you are ready to begin preparing the site! You will need to use a utility-locating service to find out if there are any underground lines before digging. Remove all asphalt, cement, and other debris from the area in which you plan to build. The playground must be built on level ground or as close to it as you can get. A 2% grade is generally the most a site can be graded for a playground. This ensures the safety of the children and the structures you are building. Prior to beginning installation, you will also want to make sure you have a team assembled and the proper tools and necessary equipment to complete the job. You also want to make sure that the playground surfacing you are using promotes safety. Safety Surfacing helps lessen the impact of falls and keeps everyone happy and moving!

Receiving the Equipment

Check the inventory of the structure you receive to ensure that all pieces are undamaged and you have everything you need to begin. It will be delivered to the site, but it is important to find a proper storage environment before installation. It is recommended to build the structure within 3 days of receiving the equipment. The packaging materials are not designed to keep the equipment safe in an uncontrolled environment for long periods of time. Plastics need to be well supported to prevent warping and powder-coated items can be damaged due to moisture and heat generated in the plastic bag it is enclosed in. 

Volunteers pouring dirt around new playground

Get Building!

Now that you have ensured the site is safe and the equipment is ready to be assembled, you can actually start the building process! First, make sure that you have plenty of tools handy. A drill can only be used by one person at one time, but during the building process, many people are working in different areas of the structure. To ensure that the build goes as efficiently as possible, make sure to have plenty of drills, tape measures, and other necessary tools so everyone can join the fun! Build in a radiating fashion. This means start at the center of your playground and build outwards. Consider adding trash receptacles and bike racks to improve the appeal of your playground! During the building process, never leave the playground unattended. If you must leave the site, make sure all holes are covered by plywood and rope off all unfinished equipment to keep children away until the site is complete.  Add warning labels and all appropriate labeling to the structures. These should be placed in a very visible area so caretakers and children can see them. During the installation process make sure someone is designated to take photos. These days can go by pretty quickly with everyone working together so making sure you have documentation is important. That way everyone involved can look back and enjoy the work they did. 

Have Fun!

This project is for children to have a place where they can develop, socialize, and have fun. By doing a community build, you are not only providing the children with this but also the community. Remember: this is a project-based in community development and community involvement; it should be fun! Building a playground with members of your community is an amazing way to meet members who want to be involved in community success. From there, you can take on other projects together to keep improving the community you live in.