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A Commercial Playground In Your Own Backyard?

Fri, 12/01/2006 - 5:00am
Last updated
1 year ago
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Remember the children's game "kick the can"? Boy, I do.

Nightlife in my neighborhood included this and other games we kids played only after the sun went down. We'd start at dusk and not quit till Terrie or David's mom hollered for us to come in for the night.

Once the sun went down and our "night games" were in full swing, I knew better than to try to sneak into the house for a jacket. My parents, eyes glued to the T.V., would surely hear me open the door and tell me, "You've had enough fun for one day." My arms and legs would be itchy from the thousands or at least it felt that way-of mosquito bites, but those were ignored as were the stubbed toe from a sprinkler head and scraped knee, worn with pride, from saving the day by kicking the can before being tagged by Brent-that big neighbor boy I just out-ran.

Now, add to the mix a playground-your own personal playground in your own backyard. Everybody would magnetically be drawn to your backyard for "night games" because no one else would have what you have.

From a grown-up perspective, owning a playground made for commercial use has obvious benefits. The playground will last forever - an endowment for posterity. The making of family memories with a family-owned playground will span generations.

Your home becomes the obvious choice for family reunions and parties. Parents have the secure feeling of always knowing where their children are playing - because they will be playing in their own backyard. The play value, if the selection of a commercial unit meets the family's needs, is guaranteed.

And, as playgrounds are considered permanent improvements to real property, a home's value will increase.

The homeowners and proud owners of the newly installed "TreeHouse," a uniquely themed play structure manufactured by the BCI Burke Company, have 18 grandchildren. This play structure designed for ages 5-12 and has open sight lines for supervision is a major hit with them. "They come over a lot. Their eyes got as big as silver dollars when they first saw it. Now they want to be out there all the time," said the homeowner. "We love the treehouse look. It has been a great addition to our home, property, and family." The structure features a hollow trunk for hiding and picnics, and other ground level activities. Inside the trunk, there is a leaf-climber that reaches a large deck where a variety of play activities are accessed. Swings were also included - even Grandpa and Grandma swing in them.

Many, many dollars have been spent on "run-of-the-mill" department store swingsets that fulfill their usefulness in a few short months because the children have outgrown the unit or it becomes ho-hum too quickly. Think of all the times you've driven past a nice home, nicely landscaped, only to see a rinky-dink play structure off to the side looking lonely and forlorn from lack of care and use.

Rural residents may not have playground facilities for miles and miles, so installing a quality commercial unit in your backyard may fulfill a role in child's play that wouldn't be available otherwise. On the other side of that coin, a backyard space in heavily populated urban areas is also keen a location for a commercial structure where parents can give the children the freedom to play without always having to visit a public playground.

Before considering a commercial structure, remember, it will change the landscape of your home and its surroundings dramatically. The selection of colors as well as where the playground should be placed are important considerations - once installed, that space will not be able to be used for any other function. Access to, from, and around one's property will be altered, as will the horizon, as commercial units with a roof can span the skyline upwards of 14 to 18 feet high.

Think about the neighbors. Will the location or height of the equipment because of criticism?

Selection of playground surfacing should be done as part of the planning process and not as an afterthought. Both what kind of surfacing will best suit the needs of the children playing on the equipment and what kind of access will be needed to get selected surfacing from point A to point B should be addressed early on.

When selecting a site for the equipment, look up. Willpower lines or established trees interfere with your plans? Think about below the surface too. Issues such as rising groundwater, need for drainage away from the play area and current location of sprinklers may affect your site selection.

Homeowners do need to understand the implications of neighboring children using the structure uninvited or when the homeowner isn't at home. Fortunately, if there were an incident where a child was injured on the property, in most cases, it would be subject to the liability coverage on a homeowner insurance policy. Check with your insurance agent to ensure that liability coverage with no deductible is included in your policy. Then let the kids play on.

If considering a commercial playground for a residential setting, the best way for a homeowner to show intent to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening or debilitating injury happening on his property is to purchase the equipment from a reputable company that certifies its products and meets safety standards.

Also, hire a professional installation company that will warranty and certify the installation. Hiring a construction company to build the equipment may very well be the first step in planning your playground. Reputable playground construction companies work with reputable commercial vendors or will also sell commercial type playground equipment. Just as you would with plumbing or electrical contractor, before you hire a playground contractor, check their credentials. A current nationwide list of qualified playground contractors can be found at www.playground-contractors.org.

This particular BCI Burke TreeHouse was installed by Picture Perfect Playgrounds, a professional playground installation company with 20 plus years of playground expertise backing them up. Picture Perfect Playgrounds is licensed, insured and certified to build commercial equipment; so the homeowners of this new playground know the equipment is installed right.

"This is the first unit I've built in a backyard. These are some lucky kids," said installation crew chief, James C. Stoddard. "I like building Burke too. This is a cool playground."

Thinking Today About Tomorrow's Play™ The only magazine that is 100% dedicated to the Playground Industry

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