Saturday, March 17, 2012

DIY Playground #1: Terrain and Planting for Play by space2place

If you only have the time or budget to do one thing for play, make a hill.

A simple pile of dirt can become a bike ramp, a fort, a stage, a hiding place, a slide, a launchpad for the imagination.  When I was growing up my amazing mother asked the dump truck drivers working on our street to leave a load of dirt in our yard.  It was hands down the best play feature ever, enjoyed by not just my brothers and sisters and me but everyone in the neighborhood.  There were four swingsets, two slides, and three playhouses on our street too, but the hill was the best. 

Sometimes when I recommend hills, though, people are worried about the technical details of the slopes and I never had those answers, but landscape architect Jeff Cutler of space2place in Vancouver, Canada, whose great playgrounds have featured on the blog before does!

Jeff's work is characterized by innovative shaping of the ground to create unique spaces for play accompanied by carefully chosen plantings that enliven the landscape and are themselves full of fun.  It's a mystery to me why so many traditional playgrounds look like play deserts....scraped flat and raw and utterly barren.  Plants are safe!  Don't make a play desert!

space2place is generously providing Playscapes readers with guidelines and suggestions for both play hills and great playground plantings.  It's our first DIY playground feature in honor of Aldo's birthday and it's free for you to download, print, and share under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license, which just means you must credit the source if you share it and you can't sell it.  

But you can use it to make your own awesome play features all you want!  All I ask is that you send me photos of what you do so I can eventually post a mash-up of reader projects, and that you leave nice thank-yous to space2place in the comments. 

Watch for DIY play feature #2 on Monday.

Go make a playscape!

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