What is Playground Planting?

Playground planting is a concept that involves the strategic placement of plants and greenery in outdoor play areas for children. It aims to create a natural and stimulating environment that enhances children’s play experiences while also providing educational opportunities. Playground planting can include a variety of plant types, such as trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, and can be designed to incorporate sensory elements, wildlife habitats, and interactive features.

The Benefits of Playground Planting

There are numerous benefits to incorporating playground planting in outdoor play areas. Firstly, it helps to create a more visually appealing and inviting space for children. The presence of plants and greenery can make the play area feel more natural and less sterile, which can enhance children’s enjoyment and engagement with the environment.

Secondly, playground planting provides opportunities for children to learn about nature and the environment. By interacting with plants and observing their growth and changes, children can develop an understanding and appreciation for the natural world. This can foster a sense of environmental stewardship and encourage sustainable practices from a young age.

Furthermore, playground planting can have positive effects on children’s physical and mental well-being. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. By incorporating plants and greenery into play areas, children can benefit from these natural stress-relieving and mood-boosting effects.

Design Considerations for Playground Planting

When designing a playground planting scheme, several factors need to be considered. Firstly, the age range and developmental needs of the children using the play area should be taken into account. Younger children may benefit from plants that are safe to touch and explore, while older children may enjoy more challenging and interactive plant features.

Secondly, the local climate and site conditions should be considered when selecting plants for the play area. Plants should be able to thrive in the specific environmental conditions, such as sun exposure, soil type, and moisture levels. Native plants are often a good choice as they are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance.

Additionally, the maintenance requirements of the plants should be considered. Playgrounds are high-traffic areas, so plants should be able to withstand frequent use and potential damage. Low-maintenance plants that are resilient and can recover quickly from wear and tear are ideal for playground planting.

Creating a Sensory Playground

One popular approach to playground planting is to create a sensory playground. This involves incorporating plants and features that engage the senses, such as plants with interesting textures, fragrant flowers, or edible fruits. Sensory playgrounds can provide children with a multi-sensory experience, stimulating their senses of touch, smell, and taste.

Plants with different textures, such as soft leaves, rough bark, or prickly stems, can be included to encourage tactile exploration. Fragrant flowers, herbs, or shrubs can add pleasant scents to the play area, creating a sensory experience that enhances children’s enjoyment. Edible plants, such as fruit trees or vegetable gardens, can also be incorporated to provide opportunities for children to taste and learn about different foods.

Wildlife-Friendly Playgrounds

Playground planting can also be designed to attract and support local wildlife. By incorporating native plants that provide food, shelter, and nesting opportunities, playgrounds can become havens for birds, butterflies, and other small creatures. This not only adds to the educational value of the play area but also helps to create a more biodiverse and ecologically sustainable environment.

When selecting plants for a wildlife-friendly playground, it is important to choose species that are attractive to local wildlife. Native plants that produce nectar-rich flowers, berries, or seeds are particularly beneficial. Additionally, providing water sources, such as bird baths or small ponds, can further enhance the habitat value of the play area.

Interactive Plant Features

To further engage children with playground planting, interactive plant features can be incorporated into the design. These features can include musical plants, such as wind chimes or plants with rustling leaves, or plants with interesting shapes and colors that encourage imaginative play.

For example, a play area could include a musical pathway lined with plants that produce different sounds when touched or brushed against. This can create a fun and interactive experience for children as they explore the play area. Similarly, plants with vibrant flowers or unusual shapes can inspire imaginative play, allowing children to create stories and games centered around the plants.


Playground planting offers numerous benefits for children’s play experiences and overall well-being. By incorporating plants and greenery into outdoor play areas, children can enjoy a more visually appealing and stimulating environment while also learning about nature and the environment. Design considerations, such as age-appropriate plants, local climate, and maintenance requirements, should be taken into account when planning a playground planting scheme. Creating sensory playgrounds, wildlife-friendly habitats, and interactive plant features can further enhance children’s engagement and enjoyment. Playground planting is a powerful tool for creating inclusive and educational play spaces that promote children’s physical, mental, and emotional development.