National Demonstration Site Network: NatureGrounds

The purpose of NatureGrounds is to create a dramatic shift in the standard playground development process by deliberately designing nature back into the everyday spaces of childhood, not only to benefit children’s play, but also to engage communities in working together to deliver highquality play experiences across generations. Research has proven that designing play environments that integrate the living landscape with manufactured equipment results in increased play value, higher levels of physical activity, social interaction, and improved environmental sustainability.

PlayCore has partnered with the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University, to help professional and community champions bring “nature to people” in an effort to reconnect children to nature to support healthy human development. The multiple benefits of a NatureGrounds play and learning environment include: play value, child development, health benefits, and environmental sustainability

Naturalized playgrounds have become sought out destinations that provide visual interest, shade, and comfort resulting in sustained repeat visits, a relaxed and playful social atmosphere, and growth of community social capital. These well-designed playgrounds offer rich outdoor education and programming opportunities for both schools and parks.

Best Practice Implementation: 

Locate playground in relation to existing site features and surroundings such as mature trees and topography. 

• Design entrances, pathways, and boundaries to enhance naturalization and connectivity. 

• Integrate planting pockets (trees, shrubs, grasses) into the play environment as part of the play experience. 

• Select child-friendly plants to provide additional play value using the Plant Database at to offer variety, seasonal change, wildlife enhancement, and/or play props

"A generation ago playing outdoors in nature was usually taken for granted, but times have changed. Now, nature must be deliberately designed back into children’s lives.” - Robin Moore, DiplArch, MCP, Hon. ASLA

Learn more about our National Demonstration Site Network here or see if there is a site near you!.

Learn more about NatureGrounds

Designing Play Environments that Integrate Manufactured Play Equipment with the Living Landscape

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