From design to installation, you can trust Kaplan with every aspect of the playground building process. Your Kaplan representative will work with you one-on-one to brainstorm, design, and build the playground of your dreams.

Kaplan offers custom playground design and layout, site evaluation, outdoor classroom consultation, and full installation service. Feel free to contact us about any questions you may have, to schedule a meeting with your Kaplan representative, or to place an order. The ASTM/CPSC Playground Audit Guide is also a valuable resource for meeting playground safety regulations.

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Standard Playground Expenses

In addition to planning for playground equipment expenses, you will also need to consider other associated costs to avoid budget surprises:

  • Site Preparation: Includes permits, installing sidewalks, lighting, grading, and drainage.
  • Shipping: Includes freight, unloading, inventory, and removal and disposal of packaging.
  • Storage: May be necessary to include if your equipment arrives before the site is fully prepared and the equipment must be stored until installation day.
  • Surfacing: Can include excavation, drainage, sub-surfacing, containment, and labor in addition to the cost of surfacing materials.
  • Installation: Costs are based on the type of equipment selected, the scope of the work, and the location.

Budgeting Solutions

Kaplan offers two budgeting options to help reduce the cost of making your playground dreams come true without breaking the piggy bank:


Purchase the playground equipment you want over time without sacrificing quality, safety, or value. Buying a playground in phases allows you to design an integrated play space and install one segment of your playground at a time, paying for each phase as it is built. Keep in mind that each phase must be in compliance with safety guidelines and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Third-Party Leasing Options

To extend your equipment financing options, we have partnered with Direct Capital Corporation, a third party finance/lease provider.

Additional Budgeting Options

Using your available local resources is another way to reduce the cost of a new playground:

  • Work with your community to form committees that can help with organization, fundraising, design, child development and education, ground maintenance, general construction, and public relations.
  • Look for volunteers and parents to help prepare the site or organize a community build.
  • Offer free advertising to local companies as a donor on signage at the build if they donate materials or services.

Site Evaluation

You need to select a site for the playground that offers ample space for equipment and accounts for use zones, which is the amount of space legally required to be left open around playground equipment. Your local Kaplan representative will help you assess the lay of the land to maximize your site's full potential.

General Area

By choosing a site that has adequate drainage and is relatively flat, you will save on site preparation costs. Make sure your site is large enough to accommodate both quiet and active play areas. Be sure to identify and mark existing utilities since many of these either cause problems or can be taken advantage of during site evaluation and preparation.


Another item to consider when you are evaluating a site is the existing landscape. If an area already has trees, shrubs, flowers, or other features, you must decide whether you want to design around the existing landscape or start anew. Shade trees, grassy areas for play, picnic tables, benches, and trash can receptacles will need to be taken into consideration if you decide on new landscaping.

Restrooms and Water Fountains

You will need to decide whether or not you are going to provide water fountains and restrooms, which are a requirement in some cities and towns. The number and location of the water fountains and restrooms will also be something to take into consideration when evaluating the site for design.


Your Kaplan representative can help you plan access points and pathways to promote smooth traffic flow into, around, and within your playground. Ample space for parking, for example, is needed when you are evaluating a site for a playground, and an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement mandates that pathways must connect the parking lot to the play area. It is also important to make sure that emergency and maintenance vehicles can access the area.

Americans with Disability Act (ADA)

By understanding the guidelines for accessibility under the ADA, our representatives can help you create a space that makes it possible for children of differing ages, backgrounds and abilities to come together through play. Follow the helpful guidelines on the United States Access Board's website. to ensure that your current or future play space complies with ADA requirements.


Each year, over 200,000 children in the United States alone visit the emergency room due to playground-related accidents. Your local Kaplan representative will help you properly plan for playground safety to ensure your site doesn't contribute to the statistics. With Kaplan, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing our equipment is designed to meet or exceed both U.S. and international guidelines for safety.


Fencing can help keep children safe in an area with moderate to high traffic. A child chasing a ball or running while playing a game may forget they are near a road and wander out in traffic if there is not a fence or blockade there to protect them.


Supervision is another great way to increase safety at playgrounds, especially if you can control who will be supervising children and at what times. If you cannot control supervision at your playground, consider adding signage that states what age group each play area is designated for to help give caregivers a better understanding of what areas of the playground best meet their child's needs.


If your playground is open after dark, you will need ample lighting to provide a safe play area for children and families. Appropriate lighting can also provide a clear view for law enforcement during off peak hours if officers patrol the playground or surrounding area for misuse.

Maintenance Plans

Manufacturer's maintenance instructions and recommended inspection dates should be strictly followed to ensure the safety of children and families who use the playground equipment. Maintenance inspections, repairs, loose-fill surface maintenance, and recordkeeping should all be included in your maintenance plan.

CPSC's Public Playground Safety Handbook

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website features a Public Playground Safety Handbook, which is a great resource for ensuring that you pick the right materials and equipment, have the right safety measures in place, and have a maintenance plan to keep children and families safe in the future.


Seventy-five percent of playground injuries are a result of a fall on an unforgiving or poorly maintained playground surface. Keep in mind that loose-fill surfacing materials require special maintenance to ensure that the materials have not been displaced due to high use or weather. Because surfacing is the first step to playground safety, your Kaplan representative will walk you through your options to make sure you get the right surface for your space and how to maintain your surfacing.

Consult with a Playgound Specialist

Design Process

A great playground starts with a strong design. Establish clear objectives for your project early in the planning process by asking yourself some important questions as you outline your goals.

Your Audience
  • What are the age ranges of the children who will use the playground? Equipment manufacturers designate equipment specifically for certain age ranges:
    • 6 to 23 months: Children in this age group are just learning basic developmental skills, so any equipment should be easy for them to touch or grasp when needed. Play areas for this age group should also include open spaces for children to crawl, stand, walk, and explore.
    • 2- to 5-year-olds: Stationary balance activities and climbers are great additions in a playground for this age group, but horizontal ladders and sliding poles are not recommended due to the amount of upper body strength they require. Slides and swings are a popular way to incorporate motion into playground equipment for 2- to 5-year-olds, but swings should be located on the periphery of the play area to help prevent preschoolers from being hit.
    • 5- to 12-year-olds: Freestanding climbers and open space for running and games are popular with 5- to 12-year-olds. This age group also enjoys moving play equipment, but these pieces of equipment should be located at the edges of the play area for safety and better traffic flow.
  • How many children will the playground serve at one time?
  • Are there children with special needs to consider?
Your Site
  • Does your site have any space constraints or unique features?
  • Will you need to prepare the site (e.g., tree removal, leveling, drainage)?
  • Does your site have slope and/or drainage issues?
Your Budget
  • What is your budget for the entire project?
  • Do you have fundraising opportunities?
  • Are you applying for any grants?
Your Vision
  • Is there a specific look you want to achieve?
  • Are there specific pieces of equipment you want to include?
  • What different types of activities would you like to incorporate?
  • Is there one aspect of your project that is the most important (e.g., new equipment, new surfacing, etc.)?
Your Timeline
  • Consider the time of year and your location for installation of your project. The installation window in northern states is greatly reduced as compared to southern states.
  • When considering your timeline, please note that the time from placement of order until completion of project could be anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Please provide any critical timelines to your Kaplan representative.

Installation Process

When you contract with Kaplan, we take all the worries out of the installation process. Consider the following pointers to ensure the installation process goes smoothly from beginning to end!

Site Preparation

Before your play equipment can be installed, prepare your site for installation:

  • Remove old equipment.
  • Level the site: Unless your design has allowed for grade changes, all inclines greater than 1-2% grade should be leveled.
  • Mark underground utilities: Contact your local power, water and gas company to have this service performed for you.
  • Assure adequate drainage for all equipment areas.

The Kaplan Playground Department will notify you of the delivery schedule once your equipment is ready for shipment. Be on hand when your equipment arrives to perform a quick inventory from the checklist the delivery driver will provide. If installation is not scheduled for the day of delivery, find a secure location to store the equipment. If Kaplan is contracted to do the installation, we will handle receiving all the materials.

Assembly & Installation

Our professional installers are certified by the National Playground Safety Institute to ensure that your project will meet all national guidelines put forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F-1487).


Typically, surfacing is the last part of the installation process. Once the playground is assembled and the surfacing is poured, the site must be secured for 72 hours to allow the concrete or our unitary Pour-in-Place Rubber Surfacing to dry. Keep children away from the equipment by installing orange temporary fencing or posting bright boundary tape and signage.

Site Review

During a post-installation safety walk with your installer, you will make sure that your playground has been installed to your satisfaction.


If you would like more information about different aspects of building and maintaining a safe playground for children to enjoy, be sure to read the Learning Center articles listed below: