Bring Play Your Way: How to Get a Community Playground for Your Neighborhood

How to Get a Community Playground in Your NeighborhoodScience has clearly proven the power of play and physical activity in a child’s growth and development. But what if your community lacks a space for children to truly thrive? At Nature of Early Play by Play Mart, we believe every child has the right to a safe place to play in their neighborhood.

While you may have a DIY backyard playground for your children, you are still missing out on the socialization and enrichment community parks offer. Creating a safe space for outdoor recreation, whether at a homeowner’s association neighborhood common area, park, school, or church, is paramount. A playground isn’t just fun; it’s a vital tool for developing essential life and social skills that will benefit children for a lifetime.

You should be thrilled about building a new playground, but don’t break out the shovels just yet! There are crucial factors you need to consider to ensure you create the perfect play space for the kids in your area. We’re here to break down how to get a park built in your neighborhood. Here are ten steps to get you on your way to a local place to play!

Step 1: Rallying Support

Ready to bring a park to your neighborhood? Start by gathering support from friends, neighbors, and local businesses. Find out what they think about the possibility of a new playground. Outline the benefits to your community and make it a collaborative effort.

As they say, teamwork makes the dream work! Create a dedicated team to tackle tasks like location scouting, fundraising, permits, and maintenance planning. Split the duties efficiently to optimize your time and ensure everyone feels they are part of the project.

Use social media and a dedicated website to spread the word about your new playground idea to other community members. Social media reaches a wide range of age groups, and a website provides detailed information about the plans for the park that will get more people on board.

Maximize your efforts by getting involved with local businesses and community organizations. Local service organizations like youth scouting organizations and churches can be great allies.

Step 2: Determine Your Budget

Most communities don’t know where to start with playground budgeting. Here, our Nature of Early Play team of experts breaks down the components of a comprehensive playground budget so you can get a realistic plan with no surprise expenses along the way.

The cost of your project will largely depend on the size of the playground. If you’re building a smaller play area for your HOA, your budget will likely be smaller than if you are building a new city park with multiple play structures for different age groups. Regardless of size, price estimates should include equipment, surfacing, and installation costs. While the exact amount will vary, the breakdown of your budget components will be similar.

Commercial Playground Equipment Cost:

You can choose from medium or large playground structures or multiple small, age-appropriate pieces. Many of our larger playsets from the Nature of Early Play line of products can accommodate more than 20 children. (See our Play Mart website for larger playset for the older kids.) Every playground is different and is based on the needs of the community and the children who will enjoy it. When we work with customers to design a unique playground for them, we often include swing sets and free-standing equipment to expand the play area and provide essential shade.

If you are on a smaller budget, you may consider individual pieces such as Activity Panels and Outdoor Gardening equipment. Playground equipment will generally be 40% of the total playground budget.

Shade and Amenities:

A comprehensive park project should feature amenities such as Benches and Picnic Tables. Our benches and Trash Cans enhance the play experience and ensure a clean, comfortable space for everyone. We have a variety of bench sizes and styles to meet your needs. Shade and amenities will comprise about 15% of your total playground costs.

Playground Surfacing:

Remember that all your exciting equipment needs a surface beneath it! Choosing smart playground surfacing options will require less maintenance, saving money in the long run. Poured-in-place rubber, synthetic turf, and rubber mulch are all great choices. The proper safety surfacing will minimize fall injuries, and Borders will contain loose surfacing materials.

Our safety surface installation packages include a personalized play equipment site plan. This helps our professional equipment crew accurately locate and install borders and surfacing. Playground surfacing and borders will comprise about 15% of your total budget.

Assembly and Playground Installation:

Our certified installers handle everything, ensuring ADA-compliance and CPSI-approval. Choose from certified, supervised, or customer installations for hassle-free setup.

  • Certified Nature of Early Play Installations: Request a quote from your local NEP sales representative to utilize our trained, skilled and experienced installation crews.
  • Supervised Installations: Opt for a supervised installation conducted by a Certified NEP Installer for added peace of mind.
  • Customer Installations: If you have your own construction crew, you can follow the Nature of Early Play installation instructions to handle the installation yourself. However, we recommend this option only for those experienced in such projects.

Certain products in our catalog are delivered to you fully assembled. However, most of our products are built to be assembled in place. For most organizations, installation will be 21% of their total budget.


We collaborate with trusted partners to offer cost-effective shipping options for your area. Shipping costs can vary depending on your location, but most projects should allot 2-10% for shipping charges. To minimize this cost, Play Mart negotiates with various freight partners to guarantee you are getting a trusted service at the lowest cost possible.

Ongoing Playground Maintenance:

Maintaining a playground is essential for your long-term budget. For surfacing, consider poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing or artificial turf, both requiring minimal upkeep. Rubber tiles are a great alternative with similar benefits if you prefer something more affordable. Just be aware that they may need more maintenance, especially if not properly installed. Be cautious of loose-fill surfacing like pea gravel, sand, and wood chips. While they may be cheaper, they require high maintenance.

Remember, maintenance is not limited to equipment alone. The surrounding areas of the playground also need attention. Mowing the grass, dealing with standing water, ensuring benches and tables are in working order, and regular trash disposal are crucial.

To ensure the safety and longevity of your playground, consider an annual inspection by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). These professionals will assess your equipment and surfacing, and identify any potential hazards. It is recommended to have a CPSI-trained staff member to keep your equipment in top shape at all times.

You may be interested in our recent article on Playground Budgeting.

Step 3: Find a Location

When going forward with a proposed park space, it’s essential to take the following into consideration:

Climate: Choose a park location that can withstand your region’s weather conditions. Avoid areas that may become inaccessible over winter.

Landscape: Consider hills, valleys, and rocky terrain when selecting a playground location. Look for flat, well-vegetated areas that provide ample space for safe play. If possible, surround the area with trees for both beauty and shade.

Soil and Vegetation: Test the soil before installation to ensure it can handle the playground. Different soils can impact plant growth and the suitability of the land.

Public Accessibility: Your public playground site must be fully accessible. If possible, choose a location near major roads and with sidewalks, trails, and parking lots for convenience.

Recreational and Educational Goals: Consider public green spaces, schools, community centers, and local businesses as potential playground locations.

Zoning Laws: Consult local authorities to give you guidance about your neighborhood’s zoning laws and building regulations while park planning.

Step 4: Get a Vision for Your Playground

Having a clear vision for your final playground will be helpful when choosing the location and the type of playground equipment. Encourage community members to give their input. A specific goal for your community park design will also make it easier for our Play Mart playground designers and consultants to give you the best advice for building your ideal play space. Think about the theme, age group, and overall culture of the demographic you are trying to reach.

Designing for Different Kinds of Play: Kids engage in various types of play, such as active play, creative play, sensory play, imaginative play, and social play. When designing a playground, it’s important to provide space for all these types of play to accommodate every child’s preferences and interests. (Learn more about our Age-Appropriate playground design.)

Planning the “Flow” of the Space: Consider how kids and adults will move around the park and ensure there are pathways and connections between play structures and areas. This open flow of movement allows kids to explore every inch of the playground and prevents congestion.

Landscaping and Working With Nature: Embrace nature instead of working against it in your playground design. Utilize existing natural elements like trees and boulders to create a learning and exploratory environment for kids.

Prioritize Accessibility: Your playground components should be arranged in a way that is easily accessible for children and adults of all ability levels, including mobility devices.

Step 5: Team Up With Playground Experts

Get a head start on your playground design and installation process by partnering with the experts at Play Mart. We will guide you every step of the way, starting with a brainstorming session where we draw inspiration from our knowledge of childhood development and previous successful projects to create innovative ideas for your playground equipment. From there, we’ll bring these ideas to life through a meticulous design process that prioritizes child development, safety, and inclusivity.

Once the designs are finalized, we will use top-quality materials and careful manufacturing processes to realize your vision. We’ll even assign independent representatives to work closely with you throughout the entire process, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience. These representatives will offer invaluable insights and recommendations, helping you select the right equipment to achieve your goals.

Our Turn-key Playground Design Services:

  • Site Analysis – We analyze your location, climate, and other environmental factors and recommend the best playground equipment choices.
  • Site Imagery – We use the latest technology to get an accurate image of your site and utilize that to create realistic site images.
  • Accurate Site Layouts – Your layout and design will properly reflect the park space with the selected play equipment placed with appropriate safety spacing.
  • Final Drawings & Site Images
    • Quality Renderings – quality rendering and video at any resolution needed for presentations or proposals.
    • Equipment Cutsheets – cut sheets, layout, and dimensions for all your designated equipment.
    • Equipment Images – images provided in 3D and 2D for your installation.

By collaborating with a playground equipment manufacturer and enlisting the expertise of a playground specialist, you can create a vibrant, safe, and inclusive playground that caters to the needs and desires of your community.

Step 6: Plan Out a Timeline

First things first—some milestones must be completed before others can begin. Just like you can’t build structures before preparing the ground, make sure to include these dependencies in your plan. And remember, contractors may not always be available when you need them, so communication is key.

Track your progress at every step so you always know how close you are to achieving your goal. If delays happen (and they probably will), don’t sweat it—just adjust your plan accordingly.

To better understand the timeline for your playground project, let’s break it down:

Detailed Conversation: Our playground specialist will gather all the necessary information—from your playground location and funding to the number of children and activities you want to incorporate. We’ll even ask for measurements and photos of your space.

Playground Design: Our expert designer will create renderings of your proposed playground space, allowing you to visualize the final result. We’ll work with you to make any necessary changes until the design is perfect.

Planning and Ordering: Before placing your order, we’ll map out utilities, confirm color selections, and establish a firm timeline. This planning phase typically takes 7 to 10 days.

Permitting: Depending on your location, special permits may be required for playground installation. Our project manager will guide you through the process, which can add approximately four weeks to your timeline.

Manufacturing and Delivery: A custom playground structure will take around 6 weeks to manufacture and deliver to your site. If you’re pressed for time, we can help you select from our in-stock options or create a playground using stock parts, reducing delivery time if needed.

Installation: The installation timeline will be established before placing your order. Most playgrounds can be substantially complete within one week of groundbreaking and ready for use with minor repairs or adjustments if necessary.

Weather Factors: Weather can impact installation time, with summer months busier and winter months offering potential discounts. If you’re in a colder climate, anchoring below the freeze/thaw line is necessary.

Final Touches: Once the installation is complete, a representative will meet you at the site for a final inspection. Most of the time, a playground will be fully completed within just 8 weeks. However, every situation is different, and your Nature of Early Play representative can give you a more specific estimate for your playground.

Step 7: File an Official Request

Get your park project off to a smooth start by ensuring you have all the necessary permits, inspections, and insurance coverage. Avoid legal complications and delays by communicating with government agencies at the local or state level and following their guidelines.

Get approval from landowners, review zoning and building codes, and work with the local government to understand any policies that may impact your plans. Check with your local government to determine the specific approvals and permits required and the timeline for obtaining them. Each local government has its own policies, so make sure to research the ones in your area for building playgrounds and other community projects.

There are special considerations if you are building a playground in an HOA. HOA rules often dictate the use of spaces, so emphasize to your HOA board that adding a playground to your HOA community will enhance its attractiveness to potential buyers. Plus, with HOAs already collecting fees for common areas, funding playgrounds can be entirely attainable.

Step 8: Raise Funds for Your New Playground

Finding funding for a new community playground can take some effort, but it is within reach. With the right approach and resources, you can secure the funds you need to make your playground project a reality.

Hold a Playground Fundraiser

The key to securing playground funding is building relationships. By strategically targeting potential funding sources and effectively telling your story, you can inspire and inform people about your cause.

Identify potential funders and prioritize them based on their potential contribution. Don’t forget to tap into your own network and consider joining community groups to broaden your reach.

Asking for money may feel uncomfortable, but ensuring your playground gets built is crucial. Use tactics like letter writing, crowdfunding, email blasts, social media, and corporate sponsorships to seek financial support.

Explore Grants and Financing Options

Grants can be a great source of “free” funding for playground projects. Visit a reputable grant website (see that provides tools and tips to find and apply for specific types of grants. However, if grants don’t cover the full cost, consider outside financing assistance. Nature of Early Play by Play Mart partners with Navitas, a financing specialist for park and playground projects. Apply for financing and receive a quick decision.

Tap into Available Resources

Finding funding may be challenging, but you’re not alone. There are various resources available to help you succeed. Explore grant-writing websites and philanthropic organizations dedicated to funding playground projects. With their assistance, you can achieve your goal of creating a new playground.

Don’t let funding obstacles stop you from bringing joy and play to your community. See the Nature of Early Play by Play Mart Guide to Playground Funding for more information.

Step 9: Select the Right Playground Equipment and Surfacing

When you peruse our Nature of Early Play website and catalog, you may be a little overwhelmed with all your options! Don’t worry; we are here to guide you in selecting the perfect equipment for your community park.

Types of Playground Equipment

Allow for Different Styles of Play: As you learned from our childhood development experts at Nature of Early Play by Play Mart, a child’s play is more complex than meets the eye. Children engage in creative play, group play, individual play, imaginative play, active play, and more! Select equipment that allows each type of play to keep all ages happy and engaged.

Consider Age-Appropriate Options: Always keep the age of the children in mind when selecting equipment. This ensures that children can receive maximum benefits and stay safe. Remember that infants and toddlers require special playground equipment, which is why Nature of Early Play by Play Mart exists! If your community park incorporates multiple play structures, use small fences to separate play areas for different age groups.

Promote Learning and Development: Quality playground equipment should be designed to help children develop, including fostering learning, social skills, and motor skills. Check out our STEAM playground package, which is loads of learning disguised as fun!

Consider Space Restrictions: Determine the size of your play area before purchasing equipment to avoid wasting time and money. We offer full-sized play structures with multiple slides, panels, and climbing walls for a larger space. If your play area is more confined, we offer smaller playsets, free-standing swings, outdoor musical instruments, and activity panels.

Make it Fun for Everyone: Your community park should be a place where all kids can let loose and be kids, regardless of ability level. We offer products that are specifically designed to be accessible and inclusive. Play Mart considers it our responsibility to provide the same quality educational equipment to children of all abilities. We fulfill our commitment by offering a wide selection of play equipment that meets and exceeds ADA standards.

Playground Equipment Material

If you want low-maintenance equipment that can withstand the elements, look for commercial park equipment made from recycled plastic. Play Mart has revolutionized playgrounds by introducing RSP (Recycled Structural Plastic) that is great for the environment and fantastic for you! Our new and improved formula offers increased structural strength, increased rigidity, and increased thermal stability.

Playground Surfacing

Playground safety is a top priority, and the Consumer Product Safety Council (CPSC) recommends using a safety surface beneath playground equipment to minimize fall injuries. At Nature of Early Play by Play Mart, we strongly encourage all equipment purchasers to follow these safety guidelines for their own protection and prevent liability issues. To meet the CPSC’s recommendations, we offer a variety of surfacing options that comply with the ASTM F 1951 Standard for ADA-accessible material and the ASTM 1292 Standard for impact attenuation.

Our safety surface installation includes a custom-designed play equipment site plan, created by our professional equipment crew. This plan ensures that borders and surfacing are properly located and installed.

Here are some of the surfacing options we offer through our trusted contractors:

Poured-in-Place Rubber:

A poured-in-place (PIP) surface allows customized thickness for safety and shock absorption. Made from recycled rubber, this surface is ideal for outdoor areas that may get wet and offers limitless design options.

Loose Fill Rubber Playground Surface:

Made from recycled rubber, this surface is durable and comes in many color options. It’s a versatile product that can be used for play zones and mulch for planter boxes or garden beds. It does require a containment border.

Engineered Wood Fiber:

This organic and compostable material is the most economical choice. However, it does require maintenance and refilling to maintain a safe depth. A containment border and weed-control fabric are necessary.

Interlocking Tiles:

These factory-molded tiles are durable and come in various colors. They can be installed in patterns and require no borders. They are low maintenance and can be placed on a concrete, asphalt, or compacted stone sub-surface.

Polyethylene Turf Surface:

This surface combines a recycled rubber base mat with polyethylene turf fibers. Optional rubber in-fill is also available. It can be installed on concrete, asphalt, compacted stone, or excavated earth. It has a soft texture resembling real grass and is invitingly green.

We also offer Swing Mats, which provide extra cushioning and help minimize loose-fill surfacing kick-out under swings. These mats are 1.5″ thick and have a beveled edge for reduced tripping hazards. They measure 60″ x 40″ x 1.5″ and are available in black.

Step 10: Break Ground on Your Playground!

Get ready to turn your park dreams into a reality! With the design complete, funds raised, and permits secured, it’s time to take the next step. Using your chosen installation method, involve community members in getting your playground components in place.

Once your playground is ready for public use, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate! Host a grand opening party and other community events to welcome visitors and express gratitude to everyone who contributed to this amazing project. It’s a fantastic way to recognize all the hard work that went into creating this new play area.

To ensure your playground remains safe and in top shape, your playground consultant can guide you on how often inspections and maintenance should occur.

Make It a Beautiful Day in Your Neighborhood With Nature of Early Play by Play Mart!

Creating a neighborhood park may seem challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. With the right steps, you can turn your community into a vibrant and family-friendly space. Nature of Early Play by Play Mart is here to help you plan your dream playground within walking distance!

From rallying support to maintaining the park, our dedicated team will guide you every step of the way. We believe that play and self-exploration are essential for children’s growth, and with Play Mart’s commitment to innovation and inclusivity, your playground will be a haven for everyone.

Contact us today to request a quote or speak to our knowledgeable customer representatives. Let’s create a playground that will bring joy and learning to your neighborhood!

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