Nature's Playground: How Plants Can Transform Outdoor Play Spaces

Create dynamic outdoor play areas with plants, fostering imaginative exploration.

By: THURSD | 14-03-2024 | 5 min read
Outdoor Plants
Outdoor place spaces

Imagine a world where children’s play spaces are alive with the beauty and wonder of nature. A place where they can explore, discover, and grow amidst the lush greenery and vibrant colors of plants. 

By incorporating plants into outdoor play areas, you can create a magical environment that nurtures both the physical and mental well-being of children. This post will explore how plants can transform ordinary playgrounds into extraordinary nature-based play spaces. Continue reading to learn more. 


childern playing at outdoor
Picture by @stock.adobe


What Are The Benefits Of Nature-Based Play 

It’s believed that exposure to nature has numerous benefits for children’s development. It enhances cognitive function, boosts creativity, and reduces stress levels. 

When kids engage with plants and natural elements during playtime with their friends, such as when doing outdoor games and using toys with their peers, it’s said that they develop a deeper appreciation for the environment and a sense of stewardship towards living things. In addition, nature-based play encourages physical activity, as children are naturally drawn to explore and interact with their surroundings.

Moreover, playing in nature promotes social-emotional development. Kids learn to cooperate, share, and communicate as they engage in imaginative play inspired by their natural surroundings. They develop resilience and problem-solving skills as they navigate uneven terrain, climb trees, or build shelters with branches and leaves.

Designing Your Nature-Based Playground 

When designing a nature-based playground, consider the following elements:


cute girl near oudoor space
Picture by @mohamed abdelghaffar


Choosing The Right Plants For Your Kiddos’ Outdoor Play Space

When handpicking plants for your nature-based playground, prioritize safety and durability. Avoid plants with thorns, poisonous parts, or ones that trigger allergies. Select plants that can withstand heavy foot traffic and occasional trampling. Some great options include:

In addition to these plant options, consider incorporating native species that are well-adapted to your local climate and soil conditions. Native plants support local ecosystems, attract pollinators, and require less maintenance compared to non-native varieties.

Consult with local nurseries, master gardeners, or extension offices to get recommendations for plants that thrive in your specific region. They can provide guidance on plant selection, care requirements, and potential issues to watch out for.

Maintenance And Safety Considerations 

To ensure the longevity and safety of your nature-based playground, regular maintenance is crucial. 

To begin, prune trees and shrubs to remove dead or broken branches. Keep pathways clear of tripping hazards like exposed roots or overgrown vegetation. Regularly inspect play structures for signs of wear and tear. Establish clear boundaries and supervise children during play to prevent accidents or injuries.

Develop a maintenance plan that includes tasks like watering, weeding, mulching, and fertilizing. Involve children in the maintenance process to teach them about plant care and responsibility. Create a garden club or organize volunteer days to engage the community in the upkeep of the playground.


Playing near flowering outdoor space
Picture by @Polesie Toys


The Role Of Community Involvement 

Creating a successful nature-based playground goes beyond just design and maintenance. It requires the involvement and support of the entire community. Engage local residents, schools, and organizations in the planning and implementation process. Seek input from children and families to ensure that the playground meets their needs and interests.

Organize community planting days, where volunteers can help install and care for the plants. Partner with local nurseries or garden centers to source materials and expertise. Collaborate with nature centers, parks, and environmental organizations to develop educational programs and activities that complement the playground.

By involving the community, you foster a sense of ownership and pride in the nature-based playground. This engagement helps ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the project.

To Conclude

By integrating plants into outdoor play spaces, you create environments that nurture children's innate curiosity, love for nature, and joyful, meaningful play. These green oases promote physical, cognitive, and emotional development while fostering a lifelong connection to the natural world. Nature-based playgrounds offer endless opportunities for exploration, discovery, and growth.

Designing a nature-based playground involves careful consideration of plant selection, play elements, maintenance, and safety. By following best practices and engaging the community, you can transform ordinary play spaces into thriving, living landscapes that benefit children and the environment.



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