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Are natural playgrounds really safer than manufactured playground equipment?

Because equipment is so expensive and has such limited play value, we rarely recommend it. Sometimes, however, our clients want it because it offers play experiences not otherwise available (sliding and swinging are examples). In these two examples, our playground designers incorporate slides into existing or created hills (for pictures of in-ground or embankment slides, see examples on this site), and for the vestibular motion achieved by swinging, we use low impact porch/arbor swings.

Our Guidelines: What’s important to keep in mind, is that the natural features of the site should be the framework within which play is experienced. No play component (natural or manufactured) should dictate the design of the site, or force the site to do something that doesn’t befit its general nature.

Whereas a site will naturally dictate the design of natural play and recreation opportunities (an obvious example is a hillside that easily becomes an amphitheater or a place for sledding or rolling down hill), equipment and its typically large safe zone requirement often dominates a site and destroys its natural character.

All too often, equipment companies will remove trees and other vegetation so they can level a site to make way for their equipment, an action which is both environmentally disrespectful and needlessly expensive.

Sales reps ("playground designers") from large equipment companies, whose clients ask for natural playgrounds, tell us they have no equipment options that offer natural play experiences. As a result, all they can offer is landscaping. Clearly, they should be offering Natural Playground options.

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