Planning Guide

There is more to planning a playground than simply choosing equipment out of a catalog. Important considerations are often overlooked in the planning process, leading to cost overruns and delays. The following playground planning tips can help you estimate your individual project costs quickly and easily. Your Eagle Play Structures designer can assist you every step of the way.

The actual size, dimension, and topography of your site must be thoroughly evaluated by your playground designer as a first step in the planning process. Your site needs to be large enough to accommodate the actual play equipment, as well as the required fall zones around the equipment. Numerous other site-specific conditions can add to the cost of your project.

Remember, your playground budget must cover costs above and beyond the actual play equipment. Be certain to assess all the costs of the job.

  • Old equipment removal and disposal
  • Site work including drainage, grading, walls, fencing, landscaping, and possible heavy-equipment access way repairs
  • Equipment shipping and tax
  • Professional equipment installation
  • A resilient surface and border treatment

Once you have prepared an accurate budget, it’s time to start thinking about your equipment layout.  Special consideration should be given to issues such as age-appropriateness of play features, the balance of physical activities and imaginative play features, and the inclusion of ADA features into your design.  You are free to pick a unit as-is from the catalog, make custom modifications to such a model, or choose to build a completely unique system from scratch. The choice is yours.  Most purchasers modify an existing layout to meet their exact needs.

Your Eagle Play Structures representative will provide you with drawings of your playground design.

Eagle Play Structures are usually installed by professional playground contractors.  It is possible, however, to utilize the comprehensive installation instructions provided with each purchase and do the job yourself.  It should be noted that such installation work requires special tools and hard physical labor.  Your Eagle representative can assist you in determining the best installation method for your project.

Post-installation maintenance is essential to ensuring safety and durability.  Eagle provides a complete maintenance kit including inspection logs, check lists, touch-up paint, special tools, and instructions to make maintaining your playground easy.

Children develop physically, emotionally, and socially while at play.  Play, in all its forms, is an essential part of child development.  Visit any playground, and you’ll notice that young children are usually predisposed to either physical play or imaginative play.  Both types of play develop equally important life skills.

Physical Play:

Physical play develops a love of fitness and builds self-confidence.  Likewise, reaching goals during physical play can build self-esteem and leadership skills.

Imaginative Play:

There are no boundaries or physical barriers in imaginative play.  A child is free to make up the rules and proceed at his or her own pace, which builds confidence and creativity.

Interactive Play:

Interactive plan is an essential proving ground for development of valuable, lifelong socialization skills.  Interactive play develops sharing and other essential “people” skills.  Through role playing children work through emotions and fears and develop conflict resolution skills. 

Inclusive Play:

Eagle Play Structures’ representatives are experts at designing play environments that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  This all-inclusive approach to playground equipment and facility design ensures that children of all ages and physical abilities have a safe, and enjoyable place to play.  Be certain to look for the “ADA Idea” icon throughout this website.

Don’t get duped!  Learn the difference between full-sized and down-sized play equipment.  Settling for down-sized play equipment is like opting for a tiny bedroom closet. Some companies offer playground equipment in both full-sized and down-sized versions. 

Down-sized play decks:

  • Provide 44% less access and egress space.
  • Provide 44% less imaginative play space.
  • Provide 44% less interactive play space.
  • Provide 44% less congregation space.
  • Severely limit traffic flow on play structure.
    Play is best in one direction only.
  • Serve as mere transfer points to get from one location to another.
  • Drastically reduce the number of users on the structure.

Expect traffic jams and disappointment with down-sized play decks.  Eagle’s Titan line is full-sized play equipment that costs about the same as the competition’s down-sized versions. 

Our design philosophy requires that we not skimp on play deck dimensions. Titan play decks provide 77% more play space than our competitors’ down-sized, 36? x 36? decks. Since we incorporate physical,imaginative, and interactive play in every design, full-sized play decks are a necessity.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 70% of injuries on public playgrounds are due to falls from equipment. The installation of an impact-absorbing surface underneath and around play structures is essential. Consult your Eagle sales associate to discuss various options.

Eagle Brand High Traffic Mats™ eliminate the need to constantly re-spread chips or wood fiber in high-traffic areas on your playground. Placing a mat below slide exits and underneath swings ensures that a proper safety surface always exists. Mats also eliminate the muddy conditions that can develop in high-traffic areas. Depending on an owner’s preference, High Traffic Mats™ can be placed above or below surfacing material.

Eagle Brand High Traffic Mat

Eagle Brand High Traffic Mats™ eliminate the need to constantly re-spread chips or wood fiber in high-traffic areas on your playground. Placing a mat below slide exits and underneath swings ensures that a proper safety surface always exists. Mats also eliminate the muddy conditions that can develop in high-traffic areas. Depending on an owner’s preference, High Traffic Mats™ can be placed above or below surfacing material.

Poured-in-place Rubber Surface

Available in a variety of colors, Poured-in-place Rubber Surface provides a more maintenance-free surface option than chips or wood fiber and can be tailor made for all critical fall heights. It can be used on the entire play area or only in specific areas. Generally, Poured-in-place Rubber is the most expensive safety surface.

Engineered Wood Fiber

Engineered Wood Fiber is the least expensive, impact-absorbing safety surface that complies with accessibility guidelines. It requires occasional raking and replenishment to maintain its resiliency.

Shredded Rubber

Shredded Rubber, usually made from recycled automobile tires, is also used as an impact-absorbing surface. It is more expensive than Engineered Wood Fiber and is nearly as expensive as Poured-in-place Rubber Surfaces. Shredded Rubber Surfaces require periodic raking and replenishment.

All Eagle Play Structures can either be initially designed to meet these guidelines or modified at a later date to bring a play area into compliance. Your Eagle playground designer can offer expert advice on issues of ADA compliance.

Safety Guidelines


Install a playground surface that provides not only suitable resiliency for fall protection, per ASTM 1292, but also is “firm, stable and slip-resistant,” per ASTM F 1951, to provide access for wheelchairs. Connect the actual play area surface to other accessible routes in the area. There are a variety of surfacing materials that meet both criteria.


Make sure your playground includes the proper mix of accessible elevated play components as well as a sufficient number of accessible ground-level play components. At least one half of the elevated play components need to be accessible via a transfer or ramp system.  See the chart below for guidelines. On structures with fewer than 20 elevated play components, a transfer system is suitable. On structures with 20 or more elevated play components, a ramp system is usually required. (Play Structures built into elevated banks can sometimes eliminate or reduce the need for ramps.)

Ground-level play components such as swings, spring riders, activity panels, free-standing monkey bars, steering wheels, and beneath-deck play areas provide fun for children of all physical abilities.


  • Space for wheelchair maneuvering to and from the component
  • Wheelchair space at the play component
  • Specified height of clearances at play tables
  • Specified height of entry points or seats
  • Provisions for transfer supports (such as a grasp handle or other means of support)
Playground Components
Number of Elevated Components Provided Ground Level Components Required
2-4 1
5-7 2 (at least 2 types)
8-10 3 (at least 3 types)
11-13 4 (at least 3 types)
14-16 5 (at least 3 types)
17-19 6 (at least 3 types)
20-22 7 (at least 4 types)
23-25 8 (at least 4 types)
Over 25 8 plus 1 for each additional 3 over 25,
or fraction thereof (at least 5 types)