Designing a Landscape for Play

Playground Landscape Design

Most homeowners with children at home, or on the horizon, dream of a backyard space their kids can spend summer days enjoying; a place the kids can engage with in a way that provides lots of entertainment in a safe manner. It’s more stimulating for young minds than being glued to a screen, and what better way to make sure your children are getting the exercise they need? It’s just one more added bonus that kids’ time spent outside tends to cut down on your housekeeping as well! What are some of the elements we like to think about when incorporating playground landscape design?

Playsets and trampolines can help get the kids outdoors. 


Playsets are everyone’s go-to when planning a landscape with a kid in mind and with good reason. With such a big variety of options, there are so many features to choose from, and they are sure to provide years of fun. There are a few things to consider when incorporating one of these into a landscape.

The first is size, and it surprises a lot of people. The issue is seeing some of these playsets while walking through a warehouse, you don’t always grasp how large they really are. They also all have a required safety footprint, which makes great sense when you consider it, you wouldn’t want a bad swing dismount to put a child over a retaining wall or into an unforgiving rock bed. Once you factor in the safety footprint and the need for these structures to be placed on level ground, it sometimes becomes a challenge to fit the dream playset into smaller or sloped lots.

Playground Landscape Design Blueprint image
The safety footprint for this playset shows how much level of space you need for a moderate-sized playset.

What to consider when designing a playground?


Over the years, we’ve had a number of clients tell us that the trampoline offered the best bang for the buck; it was a play feature the kids didn’t seem to grow out of as they hit the teenage years. Trampolines offer a great opportunity to provide fun and exercise, and there’s some variety in shape and size, so there are some options to make it fit.

One of our favorite ways to incorporate these is to set them in the ground, and there are several ways we can do that. You just need to be sure you’ve got enough fall in your yard to pipe out a drain, otherwise, you are just creating a place for water to pool, which can lead to multiple undesirable consequences.

Space to play:

A nice grassy lawn to kick a soccer ball or play a game of tag is always a welcome addition to any kid-friendly landscape. As time goes on, lawn sizes are getting smaller on average, but they certainly don’t need to be done away with. At Accent, we always advise people to think about how they want to interact with their outdoor space. Think about how much lawn space you really need for play.

Playground Landscape Design That Gives Children terrain to explore

This kid friendly landscape as a lot of interesting terrain to explore, and an in-ground trampoline.

A Sense of Adventure:

Have a lot that is challenging for some of these features? That doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful space children will love spending time in. Creating a landscape that allows for exploration is definitely going to engage the kids. A sloped backyard landscaped with terraced walls and a meandering path system provides entertainment. We’ve created landscapes with natural boulder areas for kid-friendly play. Offering a sense of adventure with destinations always creates a truly enjoyable landscape.

A place to experiment and learn:

Creating a space for kids to engage in learning activities provides a lot of opportunities for enjoyment as well. You can create areas in your yard where you plant to attract birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and honey bees. Children often really enjoy that sense of involvement with natives. Sensory garden areas, designed to engage all our senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing, offer an excellent opportunity to engage and learn right in your own backyard. Creating garden areas to plant and grow your own herbs and veggies is also a popular and practical way to engage with your landscape at any age.

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