Put simply: Making your park or community playground eco-friendly helps the planet. However, hidden benefits of an eco-friendly park include saving on expenses and improving your visitors’ experience. So, how do you make outdoor play structures more environmentally friendly?
The key is designing your park with sustainability in mind from the very beginning. Sustainable design means creating and maintaining conditions where humans and nature can coexist for present and future generations.
From using materials with recycled content for park playground equipment to choosing native plants for landscaping, there are simple — and affordable — ways to make your community space sustainable.
To help you get started, we put together a list of eco-conscious solutions you can try in your park.
Select materials made to last
Durable and recycled materials are good for the environment and your bottom line.
For example, playground equipment and site furnishings made with recycled content, such as plastics and steel, are built to last, being more durable than other materials. Plus additional features include:
- Weather resistant
- Insect resistant
- Low maintenance
- Safe for children
Durable materials, like rubber safety tiles made from recycled car tires, can help you increase safety and reduce injuries when used as playground surfacing. Its bounce-back texture provides the perfect long-term solution for a shared community space! Additionally, rubber tile or poured in place rubber makes play equipment accessible for users of all abilities.
Even wood can help you achieve a sustainable park or playground design if you intentionally choose rot-resistant varieties, such as black locust wood. Recycled materials benefit not only your park, but also your budget and your guests. They can extend the lifespan of equipment and prevent costly repairs and replacements while making your park more comfortable, accessible and enjoyable for visitors.
Choose native plants
One of the easiest ways to make your park more eco-friendly is to use native plants in your landscaping. Planting trees, bushes and flowers indigenous to the area will help promote the local ecosystem’s growth, which, in turn, will help keep your community space looking healthy and vibrant.
Because the plants are well-suited to the local environment, they require little to no irrigation and seldom need fertilizer or pesticides to be healthy. As a result, native plants are easier for your staff to maintain. They are also well-adapted to the region’s changing weather conditions and withstand heavy rains, droughts and frosts better than non-native species. This can reduce the cost of plant replacements for your park.
Native trees can also improve air quality and serve as a source of natural shade, providing better experiences for your visitors. As the plants and trees grow and flourish, they can become an attraction on their own. You can draw in new visitors through native plant tours or provide educational programming for children on the local flora.
Adopt green infrastructure practices
Runoff from stormwater is a major source of pollution. Runoff can carry trash, bacteria and more through storm sewers into local waterways. Most communities have historically used “gray infrastructure” — pipes, gutters and tunnels — to handle this runoff, but this infrastructure is aging and losing its ability to handle large volumes of stormwater.
As a result, many parks and communities are adopting “green infrastructure” practices, which filter and absorb stormwater where it falls. Green infrastructure can include building rain gardens and planter boxes to collect stormwater, installing bioswales along curbs to slow and filter runoff and using permeable pavements and surfacing to catch and store rainwater.
Green infrastructure can help reduce erosion and damage caused by heavy rainfall. It provides cleaner water for the surrounding community while also preserving beautiful green spaces for your visitors to enjoy.
Provide trash, recycling and compost bins
Trash cans are essential site furnishings for any park. They encourage visitors to keep your outdoor space clean and help minimize litter.
To promote sustainability, take your trash receptacles a step further by providing recycling and compost bins as well.
Recycling and composting receptacles serve as unexpected educational experiences for visitors. Add signage about what items can be recycled or how the composting process works so your guests can apply these sustainable practices at home.
Your compost bins can later be used as natural fertilizer — better than chemical fertilizers and cheaper (and more sustainable!) than buying from the store.
Educate visitors on sustainability
Education is one of the most important factors to achieving long term sustainability. Whether you decide to use native plants or incorporate green infrastructure in your park, remember to educate your visitors on why you are implementing sustainable practices. All Inclusive Rec even offers customer signage, which can help assist visitors with these new practices or educate them on these subjects. If they understand the ways eco-conscious solutions benefit both the environment and themselves, then they are more likely to embrace and continue these practices in their own spaces.
Ready to work on eco-conscious solutions for your park?
All Inclusive Rec has the product knowledge and problem-solving experience to help landscape architects make your sustainable dreams a reality. Contact us today to learn how you can combine manmade and natural elements to create an eco-friendly park! You can also connect with a local representative by calling (573) 701-9787.