Playground Renovations: Small Updates Mean Big Transformations

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A school playground renovation is not just about updating its appearance and compliance (although, obviously, these are important elements). Updated installations that provide physical and cognitive challenges may help students’ academic performance; parents appreciate well-maintained and safe surfaces and equipment and your administrators expect low-maintenance, budget-friendly results. And any playground renovations need to achieve all of these goals.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some great existing pieces in place to build around, Park Place Recreation will help you transform your play space, no matter if the necessary changes are large or small.


Developing a Multi-year Plan

An ongoing renovation and maintenance plan, particularly one based on our customized needs assessment, can help your school district develop a long-term budgetary plan that you’ll reference for years to come. Our district-wide needs assessment is completed at no cost to you; we visit every playground and professionally assess every component in terms of safety, code compliance, general wear, obsolescence, etc. Key questions answered by the needs assessment include the following:

  • What is the current state of your district’s playgrounds?
  • Is existing equipment in compliance with ADA and safety standards?
  • Are there glaring maintenance issues that need to be addressed?

Once the needs assessment is complete, your district will have a comprehensive and prioritized list of which campuses need to be addressed now, what equipment can wait a year or two, and what installations should be adequate for up to 10 years.


Working the Plan

Playgrounds or items listed as immediate concerns often have safety and/or compliance needs, but even these priorities seldom require a full playground overhaul. Park Place has decades of experience in playground and park renovation. We have a thorough understanding of the requirements for safety and accessibility, and we work with you to pinpoint exactly what is salvageable and what needs to be replaced or updated in each instance, ensuring the new work is compatible with the current play space, style of equipment, etc. We also help you put all these puzzle pieces together so your district is able to maximize the available budget.

One of the ways we’re able to do this is through our BuyBoard certification. The BuyBoard purchasing system is a trusted source for school boards and municipalities because all its vendors have gone through a competitively procured process that provides transparency, compliance and a documented audit trail for your records. This ensures you get the most value for your district budget while saving administrative time and resources.


Real-life Renovations

The planning stage for each renovation includes developing answers to such questions as:

  • What is the desired outcome of the renovation?
  • What are the characteristics of the students the space is to be updated for?
  • Does the space need modifications to make it more age appropriate, or does it need inclusive design elements?

Then new life can be breathed into current installations by replacing dated modules with the latest designs or fueling visitors’ imagination with new colors and more variety. One popular option is to update the design to reflect the school’s colors and/or mascot, which can be achieved in a variety of cost-effective ways.

One recent renovation project was to update a well-used 20-year-old structure to bring its equipment back into warranty. We deconstructed the facility down to the metal support poles; updated the color scheme; added new decks, climbers, and slides; and updated the roof and shade design. The district was very pleased with its refurbished play environment and the peace of mind it provides.


Escandon Elementary in McAllen, TX. Pre-renovation

During renovation - original posts retained and painted

Post renovation - added new decks, railings, slides, & roofs


Even small changes can make a big difference. For this particular project (images below), we replaced the engineered wood fiber with poured-in-place rubber surfacing. This custom design expanded the potential use of the enclosed area, even including a trike track where children can exercise their imaginations while enjoying the riding toys.



Before Renovation

During Renovation

During Renovation

After Renovation


Maintenance Considerations

Thinking in the long term, a district-wide plan with a regular schedule for upgrades and renovations helps minimize unexpected maintenance costs while it maximizes safety. However, we also work with you on updates featuring low-maintenance, long-wearing components.

One example is in surfacing. The South Texas weather can be hard on engineered wood fiber surfacing, which requires yearly maintenance and additional fill to stay in compliance with safety standards. In the long term, it may make sense to replace that surface with longer-lasting, low-maintenance synthetic or turf surfaces that save money over time.

Another important but often-overlooked consideration is site and materials drainage. If your play environment isn’t designed to drain effectively, your surface or its underlayers can begin to float, pulling up at the perimeter and allowing the sub-base underneath to deteriorate. We can provide possible drainage solutions for each project and surface.

And these are only two of the areas of consideration where we put our expertise to work for your district.


Your Long-Term Solution

Of course, school districts have other concerns, too. Not only do you want safe play environments that stimulate your students’ cognitive development and encourage improved academic performance, but you need working partnerships that are just as long-lasting and stable as your district. Park Place Recreation Designs is a commercial-grade park and playground equipment consulting and design firm with more than 35 years of experience in South Texas. The work we do for your district will be of the highest quality, done by competent professionals – and when it’s time to address the next set of needs in your district plan, we’ll be here to help you address those needs in the same manner. Contact us to get started.