A Guide to Choosing Outdoor Park Accessories
When implementing a new or upgraded park project, you’ll have to choose which outdoor park amenities to include. While it would be great to include everything, you likely have a budget and space you’ll need to work within. Learning about the different types of park accessories and what to consider when buying them will help you choose the best amenities for your project. Adding these accessories will help you create a stylish and functional space for your community to enjoy.
Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
- How to Choose Outdoor Park Accessories
- Types of Outdoor Park Accessories
- Choose Wabash Valley Site Furnishings
How to Choose Outdoor Park Accessories
You’ll have to consider several factors when choosing what accessories to include in your park. Think about who will be using the park, the goals for the park, how much maintenance will be required, your budget and how you’ll achieve design consistency.
Determine the Target Audience
First, consider your target audience. Who will be attending the park the most — families with young children, teenagers, adults or older adults? What audience do you want to appeal to? Consider what amenities would most benefit your preferred audience. For example, families with young children might want a park with safe and exciting playgrounds and benches where the parents can supervise. Teenagers may prefer courts, athletic fields and nets for sports, and bike racks. Adults may want a walking loop with several benches to rest at. You should also plan for ADA accessibility. Think about the demographics of the area you’re in and how to best appeal to your audience.
Set Park Goals
Think about your goals for the park. Do you want it to be a place for the community to exercise? If that’s the case, you should include benches along a jogging or biking trail. If you want it to be a place for people to gather, include plenty of picnic tables, trash receptacles and grills. Also, consider the future of the park. If there will be an opportunity to expand or upgrade the park in the future, make sure to leave room for that and consider how everything will fit together.
Plan for Maintenance
First, consider your target audience. Who will be attending the park the most — families with young children, teenagers, adults or older adults? What audience do you want to appeal to? Consider what amenities would most benefit your preferred audience. For example, families with young children might want a park with safe and exciting playgrounds and benches where the parents can supervise. Teenagers may prefer courts, athletic fields and nets for sports, and bike racks. Adults may want a walking loop with several benches to rest at. You should also plan for
Stay Within the Budget
Whether you’re creating an outdoor area for a school, community, religious center or public park, you likely have a set budget to consider. Your budget will limit the number, type and material of the park accessories you can choose. Once you figure out your target audience, park goals and level of maintenance, it will be much easier to prioritize the elements you need the most. If you have a very tight budget, try to write down a list of accessories you want to add in order of their importance. Maintenance is also a very important part of your budget. While choosing the less expensive material or brand may make sense to stay within your budget, you also have to consider the long-term maintenance budget.
You’ll want to create a cohesive look for all your site amenities. So when it comes to choosing material, design or color, remember to be consistent. Using outdoor furniture from the same collection will give your park a unified and cohesive look. You can choose Plastisol-coated steel, powder-coated metal or even recycled plastic lumber. Plastisol is a thick, durable coating that increases longevity, comfort and can come in many colors. Powder-coating also takes metal furniture to the next level with weather resistance and color options. Recycled plastic lumber is an environmentally friendly option that mimics the look of wood without the risk of fading or cracking.
Types of Outdoor Park Accessories
Learning the types of outdoor park accessories will help you figure out which ones are most important in your outdoor project.
Every outdoor space should have attractive and comfortable benches for people to sit down on and enjoy the park. You can also choose to place memorial benches that members of the community can dedicate to someone. For comfortable and elegant lounging, you can also incorporate bench swings in your park.
For locations, you need benches around playgrounds, walking trails, athletic fields and courts, dog parks and anywhere else people might need to sit down to relax. You should also place benches strategically, such as placing them in areas with a good view. This allows people to sit and relax while also enjoying the beauty of your park. The view could be a lake, fountain, garden or a grove of trees. You’ll also need to place some benches in the shade and others in the sun. Consider how much traffic your park gets when choosing the number of benches you’ll need.
There are many designs you can pick when it comes to benches. There is the traditional wooden park bench, elegant metal benches and plastic benches in many styles. You can choose from straight, curved or arch backs, backless designs, styles with and without arms, and many others. Choosing a design is important in creating a sense of cohesion across the entire park. Benches should match and look like they are part of the same place while also adding visual appeal.
The bench material you choose will affect many things, such as weather resistance, maintenance requirements, comfort, appearance, weight and price. Material options include:
- Wood: Wood is a traditional and natural-looking material that complements many outdoor spaces. Wooden benches also have some give to them, which typically makes them more comfortable than metal ones. However, wooden benches can be more susceptible to weather damage and other wear and tear. Sun exposure can also fade the look of the bench. If the benches are somewhere with a moderate climate, little temperature change and low humidity, they can be quite durable and not require a lot of maintenance. In other places, wood benches need regular weatherproofing to stay in good condition. Wooden amenities are also prone to splintering when damaged.
- Metal: Metal benches are very durable and can be fabricated in many different elegant and intricate designs. Metal benches require little maintenance and don’t show signs of wear for a long time. Sometimes they may need a sealant to prevent rust. Additionally, metal benches can be uncomfortable due to their hardness and tendency to get hot. Metal benches can be powder-coated or coated in something like Plastisol, giving them some additional advantages.
- Plastic: Recycled plastic benches are a lightweight and eco-friendly option. The weight can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your park. Having a lighter-weight bench is excellent if you want to allow people to move the seating around. However, high winds and storms can cause problems if your benches are not secured. Plastic benches can be styled in various ways and can even be made to look like wood, so the aesthetic options are endless.
Parks can be great places for people to spend time together, study, eat and host events. Placing picnic tables and dining sets around your outdoor space gives people a great place to hang out at your park. You’ll have to consider the size and material when choosing picnic tables.
One of the main things to consider when it comes to tables is their size. Picnic tables can take up valuable space in your outdoor area. Make sure to measure the area you plan to install them in and plan for a few feet around each one so that people can comfortably walk around them. You want the table to look like it fits in the area and isn’t too big or too small. Also, consider how many people should be able to sit at each table. Some tables can seat just two people while others fit as many as eight people.
For the sake of consistency, your picnic tables should match your benches when it comes to material. This will help give your park a cohesive look, and it will also make maintenance easier. Each amenity will require the same maintenance if you choose matching materials. One thing to consider with picnic tables is that they should be easy to clean. People may spill drinks or food, so the tabletop should be smooth enough to be cleaned.
Parks are often places where the community gathers to socialize and spend time together outside. Adding special game tables with a checkerboard pattern encourages people to come and socialize with others while playing games. These tables have a checkered top that is perfect for games like checkers or chess. Just knowing that there are tables there meant for games will entice people to bring their own games to play there as well.
Your outdoor space can definitely benefit from adding shade structures. Sun exposure can damage the skin in just 20 minutes during peak sun hours, so providing areas with shade is important in protecting your visitors and increasing their comfort. You can choose to provide shade with trees, umbrellas, shaded seating or a combination of all three.
Adding commercial umbrellas to your park adds aesthetic value and protection from harmful UV rays. Choose high-quality umbrellas that can endure all types of weather conditions and last for a long time. Umbrellas made with fiberglass support ribs are some of the best on the market and will stay strong in tough weather. Add umbrellas to tables or install them freestanding to provide comfortable shade.
You can also choose tables and seating arrangements that already have shade structures attached. These shaded amenities can simplify planning while providing comfortable areas for people to hang out at your park.
Keeping your park clean will be much easier if you provide plenty of trash receptacles. Placing them all over the park will encourage your visitors to clean up the park and throw away their trash. You can also promote being environmentally friendly by also placing recycling bins in your park. While it may not be necessary to place them all over the outdoor area, you should put them in designated eating and picnic areas so that people can recycle any bottles they may have brought.
Make sure to clearly mark which receptacles are for trash and which are for recycling. You may also need to place signs reminding people what can and can’t be recycled. Choose trash receptacles that have included ashtrays or install separate ash urns as needed. This is another important way to keep your park clean while also preventing potential fires. Some considerations for trash receptacles include:
- Location: Trash receptacles are only helpful if people can easily access them. The number one most important thing to consider when placing trash bins is that they must be highly visible. When people have trash to throw away, they will look around for a trash can. If they can’t see one, your park may be in trouble!
- Design: Surprisingly, there are quite a few styles of trash receptacles. There are cylindrical and rectangular shapes, different lid types, various material types and different mounting options. Check out our guide for more information on choosing.
- Number and size: Make sure to install enough trash receptacles of appropriate sizes to accommodate all the trash people may need to dispose of. Outdoor trash bins often come in 22-gallon, 32-gallon or 55-gallon sizes. Choose if you’d rather have a higher number of smaller bins or fewer large ones. Either way, prioritize placing trash receptacles around eating areas and entrances.
Installing bike racks at your park is a great way to encourage physical activity. People will be much more likely to bike to the park rather than drive there, increasing your parking capacity. If you have bike paths, you’ll need bike racks near restrooms so people can take a break and go to the bathroom without having to worry about their bikes.
A few different types of bike racks and bike loops can accommodate a different number of bikes. You’ll have to consider the space you’ll be placing them to determine if you need a two-sided rack, a one-sided rack or a few standalone racks. The type of rack you choose will also depend on how many bikes you think you will need to accommodate.
There are huge two-sided 18-bike capacity racks and smaller standalone bike racks. The size of the rack you need depends on how many bikes you are expecting and if you will be placing one rack or multiple racks throughout the park.
Dog Park Accessories
If you are adding a fenced-in area for a dog park, you may also need to add some other accessories in that area. You’ll need to add seating areas like benches or picnic tables for owners to relax while supervising their pets. Add dog waste stations with an appropriate receptacle and disposable bags so owners can clean up after their pets. Consider adding tunnels or hurdles for the dogs to play in. You can even add dog water fountains or a spigot where people can fill up bowls for their dogs to drink from.
There are different ways to incorporate grills into your park. Grills add a significant benefit to the space, allowing people to host events and cook food. You can have separate event areas that people can reserve for a small fee. This encourages community engagement and allows people to host family gatherings, parties or weddings.
Open, non-covered grills are a cheaper option that can allow you to place multiple in an area or spread them out in different locations. However, they will have to be installed in a solid shelter, such as under a pavilion.
Covered grills are more advanced and can hold in smoke when cooking food. While these tend to be expensive, they don’t need to be placed under a protective shelter since the lid will protect the grill from the elements.
You can also choose to incorporate fire rings in your park. However, you will need to make sure that fire safety guidelines are strictly enforced. Fire rings can be used for small gatherings, cooking food and providing light and warmth at night.
Hand Sanitizing Stations
Preventing the spread of infections should always be a priority, and outdoor spaces are no different. In fact, commonly touched playground equipment has over 52,000 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. Other surfaces at your park can also harbor bacteria after many visitors use your amenities. Providing outdoor hand sanitizing stations throughout your park can help keep people safe and surfaces cleaner.
Planters can be a great addition to indoor and outdoor spaces. They allow you to incorporate different plants and small trees and make your park more visually appealing. Add them to patios, pavilions or anywhere else that could use a touch of greenery or color. Consider using exotic plants with vibrant leaves that you may not grow in other areas of your park. Durable commercial outdoor planters can provide a lot of value to your park.
Trees are essential parts of every park and outdoor area. They provide shade, beauty and fresh air. Sometimes they need protection. Tree grates are placed on the roots of a tree and provide numerous benefits to the tree and your visitors, such as:
- Preventing people from tripping on roots.
- Protecting roots from damage.
- Providing space for the roots to get sun, air and water.
- Creating a visually attractive area around the tree.
Informational signage in your park tells people how to use the amenities appropriately. You’ll need signs around your playground equipment indicating the age limits and rules. The trash receptacles and recycling bins may need signage to distinguish between them. Signs should be included around grills and fire rings indicating how to use them safely. If you have patios and structures meant for events, include signs indicating how to reserve the space.
Choose Wabash Valley Site Furnishings
Wabash Valley Site Furnishings offers high-quality outdoor accessories that can bring your park to the next level. When it comes to choosing the right amenities, you want durable, low-maintenance and attractive options. We specialize in high-end outdoor furniture and site amenities, so we have everything you need to design the park that best serves your community.
We offer over 20 different product collections and two unique lines — our Urbanscape line of powder-coated furnishings and our Heritage line of Plastisol-coated outdoor furniture. Our Heritage line is tough and can endure even the heaviest weather conditions. The Plastisol coating is 30 times thicker than paints, and the powder coatings on the Urbanscape line will ensure your amenities last a long time without much maintenance. Our Urbanscape line is high-end, attractive and affordable, offering powder-coated aluminum and recycled plastic lumber that is built to last.
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