Playground Planning: 6 steps for planning a great playground

Playground planning starts with knowing the why, the who, the what and the how. So why do you want a

Playground planning starts with knowing the why, the who, the what and the how. So why do you want a playground in the first place? Who is it for? What is its main purpose? And how do you want to achieve that?

At KOMPAN designing and building playgrounds have been our mission for 50 years, and we would like to share some of our experience and knowledge to make you know what to go through. But more importantly, we are happy to take the burden off your shoulders and together make sure that you get exactly what you, your stakeholders, and your children wants. Our playground consultants are happy to design it together with you.


Overall designing a great playground take the following steps: 

1: What is your budget, determines your possibilities? 

2: What style and material is right for your surroundings and area?

3: Who are the users and their age-group?

4: How to cater for the way the playground is used?

5: How to create spaces for the different age groups and the different kind of play?

6. How long does it take to build a playground?


What is your playground budget, determines your possibilities?

When you start planning a playground, you probably want it to WOW children to come play, you probably want them to stay long and come back again and again, and you probably want the play to develop their life-skills – physical, creative, cognitive, and social/emotional life-skills. Playgrounds come in many different sizes. The larger, the more of WOW, stay and develop you can achieve. So, knowing your budget is relevant for your journey to plan the playground. 

Some organizations have the budgets carved out in stone, for example assigned from public budgets. So they know exactly what they can spent right from the beginning. Other organizations apply for external funding. We are happy to help you identify funds that sponsor playgrounds in your areas and for your kind of usage and children. We are also happy to help you dimension what you should be applying for and give you the visuals that will help you make your application stick out as an attractive sponsorship. We do that by planning a designing it, costing it up, and visualizing it with lively computer-generated images. This will you to get your funding for your outdoor activity area.

What playground style and material are right for your surroundings and area?

Playgrounds can be made in different styles and materials which each have their benefits: 

  • A natural style fits the scene of a natural setting or a natural park, or that can take the scene bringing nature into an urban location. KOMPAN Nature Expedition have a bent and cured design which makes it look natural and organic in its expression. It is made of pine tree, which can even come in FSC certified tree. KOMPAN Robinia, too, have a natural and organic look and even looks twisted and winding. This makes not only look natural and organic, but it also makes it look a bit fairy tale. It is made of Robinia tree which due to its twisted and winding look is unpopular in other industries, but which KOMPAN have used for designing playful playgrounds. Low maintenance.


  • A futuristic style is very transparent and organic in its expression can take the scene or fit into the scene, dependent on the size of the products and the color configuration. KOMPAN Corocord, Galaxy, or Bloqx are product lines that is futuristic in its style as well as timeless and work very well in an urban setting. Additionally, the product lines come with extremely low maintenance and is highly vandalism resistant. 


  • The classic style signals play very clearly. From a distance it calls upon children to come play, and it clearly signal play to the parents as well. It can take the scene in a schoolyard, a kindergarten, a camping ground, or holiday park as well as a public park, where it is the main aim to draw children and their parents to come play. KOMPAN Moments for toddlers, for preschool age, and for school age is great value for many, whereas KOMPAN Elements excel in play value and play 360 degrees around the product. KOMPAN Elements Essential and Simply are great value for money when budgets a more restricted yet high quality, low maintenance, and low total cost of ownership still is desired.


Who are the users and their age-group?

Children’s play preferences and their development through play change as they grow. The play solution needs to reflect that, in its size, layout and play equipment.

  • 1-3 years old: For the 1-3 year old small size equipment that they can master independently will encourage physical play and stimulate motor development. Their emerging understanding of the world and their communication skills can be encouraged with dramatic play units such as small size themed equipment with tactile details to explore. In planning, body competence should be considered and play equipment pooled as close as possible. Transparency is key to the feeling of security: that the youngest can see their caregivers and their caregivers can see them.
  • 3-6 years old: The rules of planning playgrounds for the 1-3yearolds still apply to 3-6yearolds. The focus on motor skills such as balance, cross-coordination and hand-eye coordination are still relevant. The gross-motor skills can be challenged by more responsive equipment, as this is the age at which most children learn swinging independently. The dramatic play is an immense play attraction at this age, stimulating language development and social skills. So is explorative play such as sand play, which will increase playtime for this age group. A rich variation of lower physical play equipment and thematic play events such as houses and cars are relevant.  
  • 6-9 years old: This is the golden age of growing physical skills and rules play understanding. Children will feel motivated by moving and climbing equipment. Play equipment that responds to movement, such as swings and spinning equipment will spur their physical activity. They have an increased understanding of rules games such as ball games, Tic-Tac-Toe games and other socially engaging games. The 6-9yearolds will still feel hugely attracted to dramatic play. Themed climbing and sliding equipment in combinations with swings and rotating equipment will increase physical activity and social play. Explorative sand play equipment will attract and retain these children.
  • 9-12 years old (tweens): This is the age of physical play excellence. It is also increasingly the age of pre-puberty. This means a focus on social interaction. 9-12yearolds have refined their motor skills but still love to challenge and test their agility, balance, and coordination. They will feel attracted to more vigorous and thrilling physical play: responsive spinning, jumping, and climbing equipment. The social interaction and competence is growing and a key to play success. Rules games with a cooperative and competitive edge will attract many, and ball games are popular. Play activities that can be enjoyed more children together are highly attractive to the 9-12yearolds, the tweens. 


How to plan your playground project

How to cater for the way the playground is used?

The use of the playground can also be very different

  • In school yard a lot of children come out of the classrooms in short bursts, yet at the same time. That is why we recommend that the playground and the play designs chosen must have a high play capacity to cater for many children at the same time. This can be achieved with a Corocord Spacenet or a Corocord Dome in that they can hold many kids at the same time.


  • In a kindergarten the children are using the playground day after day and for a long time. That is why the playground should stimulate the playground hour after hour. This can be done by making a buffet of different kinds of play; swinging, spinning, balancing, climbing, social play, collaborative play, etc. 


  • A camping ground or a zoo often want to attract children to make the effort to come the way to them. This can be done by having one-off a kind play designs. A KOMPAN Giant is something that the children will want to come back for.


How to create spaces for the different age groups and the different kind of play?

We recommend making different zones for different age groups, and then make the playground products cater for the age group of the zone for children to find way to the zone in which we have intended them to play. Whether the playground is for a specific age group or for several age groups it is important to keep the age groups in mind in the following way.

  • The larger the playground, the more children will be able play at the same time, and the more variety you can get in the kinds of play, which will make children play longer 

Surfacing can be a way of signaling the spaces, and in fact also enhance the kind of play.


How long does it take to build a playground?

You should get in touch with us no less than 3 months prior to your desired opening day (longer for super large or highly customized playgrounds). Because there are several steps make a good playground:

1. Designing: When designing the playground to your specific needs we need to have time to do a great playground design that match your needs and surroundings, time to do an accurate costing, and time to do a visualization that shows you exactly how it is going to look. This takes approximately a month if we nail it in first round.

2. Manufacturing: Our playgrounds are made specifically to your wish. So, we start manufacturing it when you have decided. For a playground of core products this takes 4 weeks. For super large products and customized products, it takes longer. For the latter because we must draw the manufacturing drawings first. 

3. Playground construction project: Transport to site, potential removals, groundworks, installation, surfacing, and auxiliaries are made in subsequent steps and normally take a month.

For super large playgrounds or for high degree of customization, 6 month is a better reference.