What are the features of a good playground design in 2023?

Aorangi School wet pour rubber surfacing includes sculptures.

You could be looking to build your playground now or want to know more about what goes into playground design in 2023. Look no further.

In this article, we will tell you all the main things you need to consider when considering a playspace design.

The Essentials of Play

Play Value

Play value can be divided into many concepts, but in essence, it tells how much a playground or playground equipment can add as a fun, learning and inclusive feature. The more play value you add, the more engagement you will gain.

A good playground design should include high play value items to be a place for learning and social development, not just fun.

More info on Play Value:

What is Play Value?

Low Play Value Equipment? How To Improve Your Playground


By combining structured and unstructured play areas, playgrounds offer familiarity and room for new adventures.

Ultimately, replayability in playground design means creating evolving spaces that continually engage and inspire children.

Thoughtful playground design in 2023 allow for many ways of play.
Cornwall Park, Hastings. Design and Built by Creo.

Designing the Space

The Art of Playground Design

A playground’s layout is its narrative. It guides children through interconnected experiences, from central castle structures branching out into themed areas to winding paths that encourage exploration and collaboration. A meticulous and detailed design will ensure that every feature in your playground has a meaning.

Natural Elements

 Nature is the best playground. Modern designs integrate gardens, boulders as climbing challenges, and sand and water play areas. 

It’s about connecting children to the environment and teaching them about sustainability. That can be done by designing nature play equipment and playing with the existing landscape in your space.

Interested to know more about Nature Play? Read more below:

Is Natural Play Equipment Safe for Playgrounds?

What is an Adventure Playground Design?

Surface Design

The ground is integral to the play experience and safety. Vibrant floor murals can depict oceans or space, while materials like shock-absorbing rubber ensure safety. A story can be told through surfacing, connecting to the equipment and playground design.


Safety and Inclusivity

Durability and Maintenance

Playgrounds are investments for the future. Consider choosing equipment that requires less maintenance and has better longevity. Kown brands and natural play equipment are durable and require little maintenance.


Every child deserves to play. Modern designs prioritize inclusivity with ramps, tactile paths, and versatile equipment, ensuring children of all abilities can explore freely.

Challenge and Risk Assessment

 Playgrounds should challenge but also protect. Modern designs offer graduated challenges, allowing children to test their limits in a safe environment. 

Learn more here:
Inclusive Playground Design: An Adventure in Inclusion and Fun for All

How to Maintain Your Playground

Children playing on water feature. Enhancing playground design and adds sensory play.
Water play is a great idea to add sensory play in your space.

Enhancing the Experience

Sensory Play

Playgrounds are sensory wonderlands. From rustling leaves in wind chimes to herb gardens bursting with aroma, they offer a holistic play experience.

One of the main reasons for introducing sensory play in your playground is to foster early childhood development and be inclusive for children of all abilities.

Seating and Shading

 While kids play, caregivers should relax. Playgrounds should offer shaded seating, perhaps even with charging ports or a café corner, ensuring comfort for all. The sky is the limit as long as parents have a safe resting space while the children run around.

Equipment Choices

 From classic swings to augmented reality treasure hunts, playgrounds blend tradition with innovation. It’s about ensuring children develop a diverse range of skills.

When you engage with companies that understand a playground’s entire design process, they can guide you to the best playground equipment choice that will fit the story you want to tell.


Read our portfolio below if you want to know more and get inspired. Or if you are ready to decide, call us on 0800 000 334 or book a site visit.

Low Play Value Equipment? How To Improve Your Playground

Low play value equipment is an issue on almost every playground. Play value is the standard by which we measure each piece of equipment’s effectiveness, engagement, and developmental potential.

It is more than just a fleeting moment of fun; it is about the depth, variety, and richness of experiences that equipment can offer children.

In this article, you will discover the problems of low play value equipment and how to design a playground that fixes this common issue.

The Shortcomings of Low Play Value Equipment

Low play value equipment is often cheaper. The issue with them is that they do not fully engage their users and, most of the time, will occupy a space of equipment that could offer more value to your space.

  1. Rapid Decline in Interest: Children tend to bypass equipment that does not offer new challenges or stimulate their curiosity.
  2. Missed Developmental Milestones: High play value equipment can foster physical, cognitive, and social skills. Without it, we miss out on these crucial developmental opportunities.
  3. Frequent Replacements: Equipment that doesn’t engage kids or offer just one way of play tends to wear out faster, either from misuse or lack of use.
Learn more about play value reading our explanation article here.

What Equipment Has Low Play Value?

There are types of playground equipment that are staples for a playground design. Even if they are extremely popular, they can have low play value, such as swings and see-saws. 

We are not saying that you should not have them in your playground, but you should keep that in mind when designing your whole space. 

Some other types of equipment that have low play value:

  1. Basic Monkey Bars: While they offer some physical challenges, they can become repetitive without variation.
  2. Single-Feature Slides: A slide is fun, but its appeal can diminish quickly without added elements or features.
  3. Static Spring Riders: These can provide momentary entertainment, but their repetitive motion limits prolonged engagement.
  4. Simplistic Balance Beams: Without varying levels or added challenges, they offer limited physical development opportunities.
  5. Fixed Benches: While not play equipment per se, they occupy space that could be used for more engaging features.

Elevating Play Value with Playground Equipment

To enhance the play value of playground equipment, consider integrating:

  • Versatile Design: Equipment that offers multiple ways to play or has adjustable features can cater to a broader range of children and interests.
  • Immersive Elements: Equipment that sparks the imagination, like pirate ship-themed climbers or castle-like structures, can transform playtime into an adventure.
  • Inclusive Features: Equipment should be accessible to all, including children with disabilities. Think of wheelchair-friendly swings or sensory play panels. Learn more about inclusivity here.
  • Replayability: Designs that can be approached differently each time, like modular climbing structures, keep children coming back for more.
  • Educational Aspects: Integrating learning into play, such as equipment with counting games, shapes, or even basic physics principles, can boost cognitive development.
Elevate low play value equipment with unprescribed play.
Elm Park School, Designed and Built by Creo.

The Long-Term Value of Investing in High Play Value Equipment

High play value equipment is not just about providing quality play experiences; it is also about making smart, cost-effective choices for the long run:

  • Durability and Longevity: Equipment crafted for a range of play experiences tends to last longer, reducing the frequency of maintenance and replacements.
    This ensures playgrounds remain in top condition for extended periods, offering consistent value.
  • Consistent Engagement for Users: Playgrounds equipped with high play value items become magnets for families.
    Their consistent appeal means more foot traffic, which can translate to better community engagement and potential sponsorships or partnerships.
  • Fewer Upgrades Needed: As these pieces cater to a broad spectrum of play needs, there’s less pressure to add or upgrade equipment constantly.
    This means long-term savings and less frequent disruptions to the play area.
  • Maximized Space Utilization: High play value equipment often offers multifunctional play opportunities, ensuring that every inch of the playground is used to its fullest potential. This can reduce the need for additional installations, optimising space and budget.
Learn more about how to build your playground in 2023. Click here.
Equipment that tell a story can transform low value equipment.
Whitikau Reserve Playground, Optiki. Showcasing local heritage.



The equipment you choose for your playgrounds shapes the experiences of many children. By prioritising high play value, you craft enriching, engaging, and educational spaces where children can thrive.

Read our portfolio below if you want to know more and get inspired. Or if you are ready to decide, call us on 0800 000 334 or book a site visit.