How to Stretch Your Playground Budget: Purchase and Planning Tips
The task of buying a new playground is not an easy one. Unlike other purchases there are a number of requirements that come in to play which can impact the budget as well as the length between the selection and the installation of your new playground. While every budget is almost always limited, expectations from other members of your organization and the community are not. Finding a balance between what everyone wants and what you can afford can be challenging.
How do you get the most value for your money when planning and purchasing a new playground? We’ve provided some tips to help you optimize your budget while getting the playground you truly want on the schedule and timeline that you need.
Create a Plan
If you are building a playground from scratch, consider that different structures and activities will be required for children aged 2-5 years versus children who are aged 5-12 years. There is an assortment of structures available for children depending on age and ability, and it is recommended that you provide separate structures by age group to optimize safety. However, some playground designs are built to be appropriate for a full range of ages from 2-12 years and can work well for a mixed play environment.
Also consider other activities which offer independent play opportunities such as sand or water play structures. You can augment your existing play structures with affordable stand-alone slides or swings, or offer updated climbing structures that extend the play benefit of your space. And remember that the average playground is updated once every 3-5 years and additional independent play activities can be added annually to affordably build more fun into your park.
Five questions you should be asking yourself in the playground planning process are:
- How many children will be using your park weekly?
- What are the ages and abilities of children who will access your playground?
- Which play activities do you wish to provide children?
- Which safety features are needed to prevent injuries (including signage)?
- Will you need waste and recycling receptacles to provide a clean space for outdoor play?
When evaluating different types of playground structures, you may find that more than one manufacturer has the pieces you like. For instance, if sourcing more than one structure, you may be tempted to purchase a slide or swing set from a different manufacturer than the one you have chosen for your primary play structure. It definitely pays to shop around, but when it comes to purchasing, try to buy from only one distributor or manufacturer to avoid paying increased freight and shipping fees. You can also avoid delayed installation due to delivery dates that vary between manufacturers. Save time and money and order from one distributor wherever possible.
To Theme or Not to Theme
While themes can be charming, they can also become quickly outdated and increase the price of your playground exponentially. Looking for pieces that exactly match your playground theme limits your options and the opportunity to comparison shop for better prices on play structures. Consider that a balanced playground can have a few pieces that are themed to punctuate the overall aesthetic without eliminating fun structures that do not “match.” Many playground structures offer custom coloring that can be ordered to match an existing theme as well.
Take Advantage of Sales
Frequently playground manufacturers will provide sales events that can substantially reduce the cost of a playground structure by as much as 50% off retail. Remain flexible in your plan and expectations to be able to take advantage of a more limited selection of models at a tremendous savings. Sale priced playgrounds are frequently overstocked items that can be incorporated into your park while freeing up additional budget for independent play structures, or even better quality safety surfacing for your project.
A qualified playground professional or team will be able to evaluate the budget for your product and provide recommendations to suit your needs. They can also help you to investigate affordable financing options to help expedite your playground project, and should be consulted to make the most of your budget.