What is the Average Size of Backyard Playgrounds?
It is safe to say most people are familiar with the concept of backyard playgrounds. Practically ubiquitous in modern society, playgrounds represent freedom and fun for many children. Most adults can recall fondly their various forays onto a playground surface. What isn’t necessarily or readily apparent to many people, however, is that playgrounds come in a variety of different sizes that are dependent on a number of factors. Regardless of their size, however, playgrounds can –and should- incorporate safety features such as playground rubber pad (one example being playground rubber surfacing). Smaller-sized playgrounds, such as those found in homes, are at one end of the spectrum. On the upper end of the scale are large-sized playgrounds, which can typically be found in high-traffic settings such as large public parks and bustling schools. In the middle of the scales reside medium-sized playgrounds, which can be found in day cares, public parks, and other somewhat busy areas. In addition, a general rule of thumb is that the smaller the playground, the more appropriate it will be for younger children.
Small-sized playgrounds are often found in homes, daycares or kindergartens due to their low price point and the lack of space required to host them. Less cumbersome play equipment allows small-size playgrounds to function especially well as backyard playgrounds. Because they have a more compact playground surface area many parents and guardians prefer to utilize small-sized playgrounds for the personal usage of their families. A standard small backyard playground set falls below 15 feet wide by 10 feet deep and will usually cost less than $700. Such sets within this range will usually include small slides, one or two swings, a standard step ladder and an upper play area. Playgrounds fall under this size category will usually only support a maximum of 20 children at a time. Many small-sized backyard playgrounds also include a minimal amount of playground pad or playground rubber surfacing to ensure safety for the playgrounds occupants. Small-sized playgrounds will often be found in private suburban or urban environments, where a reduced spacial footprint is an advantage.
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It should be also noted that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) “Public Playground Safety Handbook” states that “playgrounds should be designed to stimulate children and encourage them to develop new skills, but should be in scale with their sizes.” For this reason, playground size should be at least partially dependent on the age range of the children it’s designed for; small size backyard playgrounds are especially ideal for children the CPSC classifies as toddlers (children that are over 6 months of age but less than 2 years). Small-sized playgrounds are also inherently beneficial for children because their smaller construction allows for the easy supervision by parents of their toddlers’ activities. It should be also noted that, as a rule, as playground size increase this supervision becomes harder to maintain. Lastly, playgrounds designed for use by toddlers also will feature, per CPSC guidelines, a maximum difference of seven inches between stepped platforms, thus reducing the overall vertical height of play structures and making them safer for use by toddlers.
Medium Sized Playgrounds
Medium-sized playgrounds are naturally the step above smaller-sized playgrounds. This size of playground is most commonly found in daycares, schools, and parks, where their middling size allows for a greater number of occupants to utilize the play structure simultaneously. They may also be used commercially by private organizations. Depending on available space or the owner’s requirements, backyard playgrounds may be medium-sized. These playgrounds are generally more expensive than small-sized playgrounds due to their greater construction and assembly needs, and the fact that the playground surface of medium-sized playgrounds takes up a greater amount of land. They are generally 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep, though specific dimensions vary within the category. Medium-sized playgrounds can accommodate greater numbers of children as well when compared to their smaller counterparts. It is not unusual for medium-sized playgrounds to accommodate up to 50 children within the total playground surface.
Medium-sized playgrounds are found in both indoor settings (like indoor amusement facilities) and outdoor area (like standard backyard playgrounds). Medium-sized playgrounds may generally be geared to children the CPSC defines as preschool-aged – typically those between 2 to 5 years of age. The larger size and wider variety of equipment in medium-sized playgrounds are usually more attractive to preschool-aged children than small-sized playgrounds are. Furthermore, medium-sized playgrounds generally incorporate height differences of up to 12 inches between platforms, which are more easily traversed by preschool- and school-aged children than toddlers. Like small-sized playground, medium-sized playgrounds are typically compact enough so that the occupants can be easily supervised by parents when on the playground surface. Now, though they share similarities, there are several differences between medium-sized and large-sized playgrounds.
Large Commercial Playgrounds
Large-sized playgrounds, which can typically be found in high-traffic settings such as large public parks and bustling schools, are the third size type of playgrounds that exist. They will usually be found in large schools or in highly frequented public parks. This is due, in part, to their high price-point, but also because of the time and effort involved in their construction. It is comparatively rare to find backyard playgrounds that fall under the “large-sized” playground category. Because of their great physical extent, large-sized playgrounds can accommodate relatively huge numbers of children and occupants. Many large playgrounds can support more than 75 occupants at a time. As with middle-sized and small-sized playgrounds, the exact specifications of individual large-sized playgrounds vary, however, they may usually be found with widths and depths of more than 40 feet each. They will also feature extensive safety additions such as playground rubber surfacing. In addition, large, commercial-sized playgrounds are typically confined to the outdoors.
Due to their extreme size and construction, large-sized playgrounds are frequently and most commonly used by –in the parlance of the CPSC- “school-aged” children. This group is composed of children over five years of age, but less than 12 years old. Maximum height difference in gaps between stepped platforms are, at this particular playground size, generally up to 18 inches. Because of this, large-sized playgrounds may become very tall and only capable of being used safely by “school-aged” children; the ones the CPSC defines as being up to 12 years old. A potential drawback of large-sized playgrounds, however, is that their intrinsic largeness may make it difficult for parents to completely supervise their children as they play within the playground surface area. This is one more reason why large-sized playgrounds should only be used by children deemed old enough (and responsible enough) to play on them safety.
Playgrounds vary in many aspects, but the most fundamental of these is size. Small-sized, medium-sized, and large-sized playgrounds each have their respective niche and individual specifications. Small-sized, backyard playgrounds are common in homes and in daycares and kindergartens due to their low price-point and reduced space requirement. Medium-sized playgrounds are the step above small-sized and are typically found in school, commercial, or public park settings. Large-sized playgrounds are the final level of playground sizes and will be located in high-traffic area such as bustling schools or parks.
A playground’s (backyard or otherwise) size may also depend heavily on the age range of the children the playground is intended for. Small-sized and backyard playgrounds will typically host toddlers and very other young children (ranging from six months to two old) whom require close supervision and smaller play structures. Medium-sized playgrounds function as common play areas for preschool-aged children (2-5 years of age) and, while more advanced and composed of taller playsets than small-size playgrounds, generally still allow for relatively close supervision of children on the part of the parents. Lastly, large-sized playgrounds will feature more physically demanding and challenging play structures that are best only summited by school-aged children of five years of age and up. Regardless of their size, however, or the intended age of the playground players, playground safety must be taken into account. A playground surface should still consist of some type of playground pad to protect the children using it. Playground rubber surfacing is just one type of protection that can –and should- be utilized by playgrounds of any size: small, medium, or large.