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Helpful Information

Helpful Information

What are they?

What do they cost?

Is money available?

Construction Information!

Is a catalog available?

Common questions

Outdoor education

A child's perspective

Natural play articles

Natural play links

Natural play research

News & Articles

Natural Playgrounds Maintenance

Music in Learning

Gardening is Good!

Encouraging Safe Risk

Physical Fitness Linked to Brain Fitness

THE UNSAFE CHILD: Less Outdoor Play is Causing More Harm than Good

Questions about the minimum outdoor square footage requirements for each child at a childcare center.

Natural Playground coming to Grant Elementary School

Nothing Lasts Forever,
except natural playgrounds!

Webster Groves is home to Missouri's first "Natural Playground"

New Study Proves Natural Playgrounds Beneficial and Inspirational!

A Natural Playground Makes A Difference!

Natural playgrounds are best choice in tight economy



How may we help?

Email us here
with your questions,
or to ask about
our services.

Please include the name
of school, center, or park,
and your city.

NPC will respond
shortly by email.

Our Services

We are the leading US expert in the design and construction of innovative, environmentally sensitive, equipment-free natural playgrounds, natural playground elements, and outdoor classrooms, for K-12 schools, communities, and childcare centers.

We offer the following services:

  • Design Services: Simple for tight budgets and residences
  • Design Services: Comprehensive for bigger budgets
  • Planning Services: Master/Campus planning, the larger perspective!
  • Construction Services start to finish, no project too small or large!
  • Maintenance Services keep your natural playground looking new
  • Manufacturing Services large selection of learning and play elements made by us in the US at great price. We can also custom design and build whatever you want!
Our overall objective is to foster creation of more natural play and learning opportunities on your site by using a preponderance of natural and sustainable features, materials, and play opportunities that reflect your region's natural character and beauty in the Natural Playground design.

In addition, the following services are also available

  • Site visits and assessments
  • 3-D topographic scanning for accurate planning purposes
  • Inexpensive drainage solutions
  • Engaging, interactive slideshow that sells the Natural Playground concept
  • Construction drawing, detail packages for permitting and bidding

Working with us gives you unprecedented access to all of this. We can answer any questions about

  • how to design your space for imaginative, discovery-oriented play,
  • what children need for interactive play
  • what is going to work on your site,
  • drainage issues
  • how curriculum can be integrated into the outdoor space,
  • how to make the transition of your site from a standard playground to a more natural playground,
  • where to find money,
  • what parts can be done by parents,
  • any aspect of construction,
  • anything to do with maintenance...

The Natural Playgrounds Company® consists of three divisions: Design Services, Construction Services, and a Manufacturing plant where we make all our natural outdoor play and learning elements sold through our online store.

Our unique expertise stems from our knowledge, experience, and understanding of how children play, over 40 years of working with children of all ages, a comprehensive and complete understanding of children's play expectations and experiences, the natural environment, environmental planning, design and the visual arts, landscaping and hardscaping construction, and playground safety regulations.

We have been focusing on natural play and learning elements exclusively for almost 20 years. We don't do anything else: we design them and build them, and design and build things that go in them, and that's it. We're the only company in the world who offers this comprehensive package of services, and the only company in the world which has an intimate understanding of how all these work together, because we control every aspect of every part of the process.

Why does this matter? Because we've been doing this for so long, and because all our processes are interrelated, we get constant feedback from each of our divisions, which means we are constantly improving our products, services, and operations, and constantly adjusting to meet all the licensing and safety regulations. All of this makes it easy and foolproof for you!

And because we know what we're doing, we're extremely cost-effective.

 

Design Services

We offer three design approaches for Natural Playgrounds: Comprehensive, Simple, and Placement Plans.

Over the years, we have found that everything depends on your budget, not on the size of your site.

The reason for this is pretty simple. The more money you have, the more things you'll want on your site, and the more you have on your site, the more you need to pay attention to how everything works together so you don't end up with a hodgepodge of stuff that doesn't work together, doesn't look good, doesn't enhance the site, and doesn't inspire the children to play in creative and different ways.

So the more you have to spend, the more comprehensive the plan needs to be, which is why we always start off asking about your long-range budget. Of course we are concerned about what you have in hand now, because that will constitute at least the first phase of construction, but we also want to know what your long-range intentions are for your outdoor play and learning area.

For instance, you might start off with $50,000 this year, but you know that over the next five years you'll be committing another $5000 a year, which means in total you'll be spending $75,000 on your playground. That's the number we need to know, because that's the number that we should be using to be develop your design.

The Comprehensive Design Service is an entire package which includes

  • a personal visit to your site by our Design Team which presents a very comprehensive, interactive, entertaining slideshow that gets everyone on the same page
  • a very sophisticated, 3-dimensional topographic survey that generates accurate information about your site topography, boundaries, existing vegetation, existing trees, building orientation, paths, shadows, wet areas, drainage issues, entrances and exits, and so on. This information is used to generate a very accurate design that can be used as a construction guideline.
  • very comprehensive, 30 page questionnaires for both administration and teachers which generates information about expectations, curriculum, children, teachers, parents, and particulars about the site.
  • an extremely accurate, scaled, photorealistic, full-color plan printed at full scale on photo paper (this is NOT a hand-drawn, stylistic, watercolor/magic marker sketch/concept plan), so it is perfect for public display and presentation and for construction.
  • a line item construction estimate that can then be tailored to your budget, if requested.
  • a detailed construction drawing and specifications package, if requested for bid or other purposes.
  • guidance about using outdoor classrooms, and guidance about volunteer help during and after construction, where to find money, fundraising, and so on.

The pricing for this package varies because it depends on your long-range budget. If you email us your budget, we can easily give you a quote.

The Simple Design Service is for customers looking for a little less comprehensive project, and for help selecting and placing natural play and learning elements in their existing play space, and among the other play elements, but who are not necessarily looking to do an entire makeover. We provide a checklist of the most common play and learning elements incorporated in Natural Playgrounds from which you select 20 of your favorite items which we then incorporate into a very simple design that fits your space. To help us get started, you'll need to provide us with basic information about your site.

The pricing for this option also depends on your budget.

The Custom Design Service is a catchall encompassing specific requests or problems, and we charge by the hour.

For instance, we have solved numerous drainage problems inexpensively. We've designed and built mud run and challenge/fitness elements for all ages, and have built custom items like ball pits for adults and for children. Or we answer questions about installing various natural play items, such as hills (which are very difficult to properly shape with the right slope in the right location, and the right materials have to be used to hold the shape of the hill without eroding), or embankment slides (which need to be installed differently depending on the ages of the children using them), or rock scrambles, or freeform sand play areas, or hand pumps (which require a water source), and so on.

If you have anything in mind, don't hesitate to challenge us. We are the experts in everything to do with Natural Playgrounds, and we look forward to helping you however we can!

 

Construction Services

We offer several levels of construction services. Depending on your requirements and needs, we can provide either of the following:
  • Turnkey Construction. You don't have to lift a finger. You don't have to coordinate with or fret about multiple contractors for building structures, landscaping, hardscaping, water features, irrigation, or concrete work, because our crew does it all and does it well and fast. One simple contract with every construction item listed, that's it!

    At the end, you get an extremely comprehensive Maintenance Guide that is specific to your site, and we're always here to answer any questions or to make additions whenever you raise additional funds.

  • Construction Supervision. Sometimes customers prefer to work with their own landscape contractors, but understand that Natural Playgrounds require unique construction approaches, and unique knowledge about playground safety, both of which would be unknown to their contractor.

    In these cases we can provide a skeleton crew to work with and supervise your contractor, or we can provide a construction supervisor who makes sure that time-saving construction techniques are used by your contractor, and that both CPSC and ASTM playground safety standards are being followed.

The pricing for either of these options depends on the level of service requested, but if you email us, we will be happy to give you an estimate.

 

Maintenance Services

Over the years we’ve developed several unique maintenance techniques and services specifically for natural playgrounds (and about which most landscaping companies know very little), so now we are putting these to work for you.

We are also very familiar with all playground safety and licensing guidelines, so we can do a quick safety inspection of things like swings, fences, and older equipment and let you know if we see any violations. Usually, we can take care of them for you.

Our services include:

  • repairing grass areas! After endless experimenting over the years, we now know how to maintain grass in high use areas. We would fix your grassy areas and then provide instructions for what to do in between our maintenance visits.
  • adjusting the irrigation system for peak efficiency: heads, lines, timers, etc. We can also extend the system if necessary.
  • treating the lumber used in climbing walls, musical instruments, art panels, storage boxes, retainers, and other wooden playground items with kid-friendly wood preservative. This should be done at least once a year (twice preferably) to prevent the wood from drying out and getting splintery and rough.
  • sanding rough edges and surfaces that appear after wood is exposed to the weather for a period of time
  • replacing wood that has split from drying out
  • fixing trip hazards where the earth has settled, or where stepping stones or tree cookies have settled unevenly
  • repairing/filling in cracks that catch shoelaces
  • repairing cracks in concrete
  • eliminating entrapment hazards
  • checking the condition of play and learning elements against the CPSC and licensing guidelines, and repairing where needed
  • topping off or replacing fall zone materials to the correct depth
  • topping off sand in sand play areas, or replacing the sand if it’s gotten too fine and is getting dusty
  • vacuuming up sand from where it shouldn’t be
  • adjusting hinges, closers, and latches on storage benches, storage trees, sheds, etc
  • replacing anything that’s worn out
  • fixing drainage issues
  • fixing erosion issues and so on.

We can also install any new play and learning elements you’ve chosen. Because we have our own production facility, we can guarantee that elements purchased from us will arrive onsite when we do, so they can be installed while we’re there doing other things.

We have a permanent west coast crew that can respond quickly to your needs, so if you want a routine inspection and then maintenance and repairs done, we’re here to help!

Let us help get your natural playground looking fabulous again!

 

Manufacturing Services

We have a 12,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in New Hampshire in which we design, prototype, field test, and manufacture play and learning elements that we then sell in our online store.

Because 99% of our products are made by us, we have complete and immediate control over their manufacture. This also gives us the flexibility to design and build any idea you have.

Over the past several years, we have custom-built several elements to fit particular customer needs: a collection table to fit over a giant water table, special water play features, ball pits, an abacus using tennis balls, a standing log library, gazebos of various sizes, tree houses, tree decks that wrap around trees, special fitness items, special outdoor musical instruments, and so on.

If you've been thinking of an idea, and it can be made with wood, we can help you refine the design and build it for you!

Bottom line, is that we can help, and we can make it very easy for you. Moving toward a different play environment, one that's natural instead of manufactured, is a big step and can be very daunting, but we're here to help and make it easy, easy, easy for you, so give us a call!

We'll help you make it happen!


Please contact The Natural Playgrounds Company® to discuss your thoughts and plans. We welcome your inquiries and will get back in touch with you promptly.
Thank you for spending some time with us today.

(Don't forget to check out our online store of natural play elements!
Click HERE to go there now!)