Each year, fresh trends emerge from state-of-the-art equipment to new initiatives and focuses on outdoor play. From inclusive playground equipment to outdoor classrooms, here are our top four trends in playground design and playground safety for 2022.

1. Inclusive Playground Equipment

With an increased focus on inclusion and accessibility across the country, it’s no shock that inclusive playground equipment has seen a surge in popularity. Not only do accessible playgrounds allow children with physical and intellectual disabilities to play freely with their friends and classmates, but they also provide greater access for parents and caregivers with disabilities to monitor and play with their children.

Inclusive and accessible playground equipment may include:

● Ramps and wider clearances for wheelchairs
● Additional handrails (on both sides of walkways) for stability and balance
● Well-maintained, smooth unitary surfacing
● Additional safety measures for swings, merry-go-rounds, and other moving equipment
● Sensory experiences for children to hear, see, and touch
● Low and/or ground-level platforms for easy access

When considering playground equipment for children with disabilities, playground safety is of the utmost importance. In addition to regular playground safety inspections, accessible playgrounds need to maintain their surfacing carefully to maintain ADA compliance.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to playground safety, consider partnering with a company that offers playground inspection services to ensure your equipment is in tip-top shape.

2. Outdoor Learning Spaces

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, many teachers opted to take their classes outside for a break from masks and other safety measures – and many don’t want to go back inside! We’ve seen more outdoor learning spaces than ever before with kid-friendly seating, platforms, and shelters.

While the effects of nature can help to wash away some germs, sanitization is key if you utilize an outdoor learning space or outdoor classroom. We recommend regular surface treatments with a disinfectant like Peroxigard™, which is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and safe for children of all ages.

3. Innovations in Play

The simple swingsets and slides of our childhoods are long gone, and in their place come all sorts of engaging and interactive playground features. We expect to see playground designers continue to push the bounds of how children can grow their motor skills and play outdoors.

Climbing walls, obstacle courses, and even zipline-style swings have all found their way onto playgrounds in the past few years as playground safety has improved. And, as physical play equipment continues to grow, we also see more and more playgrounds utilizing technology to add interactive elements that gamify fitness and inspire outdoor play.

4. A Continued Focus on Safety

As playground equipment gets more inventive, maintaining a safe play space for children of all ages and abilities becomes even more important. This means regular inspections performed by a professional (or a trained employee) and preventative maintenance to avoid bigger problems down the road to maintain optimal playground safety.

While maintenance and inspection may seem like an afterthought to some, they are key to maintaining playground safety for years to come. And, by addressing small problems before they become costly, you can save your budget for fun and innovative updates to your playground equipment.

Interested in updating your playground to meet the upcoming trends? Start with a playground facelift to get your equipment looking and functioning like new.