Playground Drainage – A Crucial Investment for Play Equipment Preservation

Good drainage is crucial to the longevity and functionality of playground safety surface systems. Whether using loose-fill products, such as engineered wood fiber or rubber chips, or unitary surfaces, such as synthetic turf or poured-in-place rubber, the playground area needs proper water drainage. Most people involved in playground design and construction know the importance of moving water away from the play area. However, designers need to understand how a particular drainage system will affect the playground during and after construction.

All drainage systems are not created equal. Drainage for a playground in Las Vegas, Nevada, for example, will be different than a drainage system that's in Orlando, Florida. When in doubt, consult a local water expert who can ascertain how much drainage is needed for a particular climate and how much water, on average, will enter your playground surfacing area at any given time. For example, moving water via an entire "drain field" designed to exit into a more extensive drainage system in Orlando, Florida, makes perfect sense. In Las Vegas, such a system may be less comprehensive.

A playground area should be designed as something other than water collection points for the buildings or groundwater surrounding a playground. The accompanying photo shows water from the roof of the school building draining onto the asphalt area, which in turn drains into the playground protective area. Over half the water at this school is being discharged into the playground surfacing, rendering it unusable at certain times a year. Additionally, it can cause wood fiber displacement, premature wood rotting, and growth of insects and mold in the wood surfacing.

Solution, a sump pit inside the playground protective area is a common and economical way to address drainage concerns. A sump pit consists of a hole dug a certain length, width, and depth. The hole is then covered with a geotextile fabric and filled with drainage rock. To avoid interference with the footing layout provided by the playground equipment manufacturer, designers should show sump pits to be installed outside the fall zone to avoid interfering with play equipment footer placement.

A sump pit inside the playground protective area is a common and economical way to address
drainage concerns. A sump pit consists of a hole being dug a certain length, width, and depth.

While designers may add a slope to the play area to aid drainage, slopes greater than 1 or 2 degrees can create further problems for the installer. Unless precisely planned with the slope in mind, modular playgrounds are designed to be installed on level ground. For example, suppose there is a 2' slope in the distance of a forty-foot-long play structure with toys such as slides at opposite ends. In that case, one slide exit will be on or below ground level, while the other could be higher than 11", making both exits out of compliance.

In the late 1980s, prefabricated playground equipment was still in the infant stages. A set of plans showing a drainage design consisting of a layer of drainage rock throughout the playground protective area was not uncommon; it was widely used. However, geotextile fabric was exposed and ripped in high-traffic areas without regular surfacing maintenance, causing the drainage rock to contaminate the loose fill safety surfacing.

Additionally, a layer of drainage rock used throughout the play area can interfere with the structural integrity of the playground equipment footings. Play equipment manufacturers engineer their uprights and accompanying toys to be installed at a specific depth in native soil, not gravel or drainage rock. For example, a toy is designed to have an eighteen-inch footing, but 6" is used up in drainage rock, leaving only a 12".

This error renders the equipment out of compliance but often goes unnoticed because it is underground. It can even void the manufacturer's warranty. When the integrity of the footings is compromised, they can twist and go out of plumb, causing undue stress and premature breaking of toys. In turn, the life span of the equipment is shortened. And all because the footers were not installed in a solid footing. Think about that! 

Solution, using a French drain or trench systems instead of a layer of drainage rock is now recommended. A trench that is dung along the lowest point of the playground protective area, is filled with geotextile fabric and gravel. This allows the water a place to go below grade to prevent water pooling in the playground pit.

In summary, consider the local climate and the playground equipment manufacturer's installation specs for your drainage system to perform correctly. Do not use the play area to discharge the surrounding water runoff. The goal is to move water away from the playground area without compromising the stability of the footings and manufacturer equipment height requirements. 

Bouldering: A challenging and safe way

Whether you are refreshing an existing site or brainstorming a new playground site, playground planners and architects are looking at the activity known as bouldering; scrambling and climbing options that mimic actual mountain-climbing but doesn’t require ropes and protective gear. LuckyDog Recreation offers you, our valued customer many bouldering possibilities, one of which is bound to excite and delight the community you serve.

From easy for beginners to technically challenging for experienced climbers, bouldering is perfect for a wide range of users in a public setting. Protective gear like ropes and helmets - for example, are not required. A bouldering challenge is the perfect addition to your playground offerings at schools, regional and state parks, city parks, and housing developments like single family subdivisions and multifamily apartment complexes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.jpeg

ID Sculptures – With every project LuckyDog does with ID Sculptures, our philosophy matches: “. . . kids thrive when they feel an authentic sense of adventure and can safely explore their limits”. ID Sculptures has the ability to create unique and custom structures, they have become a playground designer's and landscape architect's dream come true.

LuckyDog is proud to represent ID Sculptures in Idaho and Wyoming and through our Playcraft Partners in Utah. Learn more with LuckyDog, check out our On-Demand Webinar from ID Sculptures: Breaking the Mold

ID Sculptures Gallery

Everlast Climbing – Everlast has been popularizing climbing experiences for young people for over 30 years. You can choose from indoor and outdoor climbing walls that attach directly to your building wall, so if you are short on space, with Everlast, lack of real estate for an awesome climbing experience is a non-issue.

There are tons of support and several awesome pre-recorded Webinars about getting started with Everlast. Start here. WATCH TRAVERSE WALL RECORDED WEBINAR HERE: Everlast Climbing

Need help funding your indoor/outdoor climbing wall? Check out this easy Funding Support Guide compliments of Everlast Climbing. FUNDING SUPPORT: Everlast Climbing

TrekFit – If you follow LuckyDog’s monthly newsletters, then you probably know that Trekfit is our newest partner in the line-up of equipment we are proud to offer.

TrekFit is best known for their outdoor fitness equipment. Did you know they have awesome climbing boulders too? The Urban Boulder™ collection features both positive and negative inclinations making the difficulty levels vary. Sizes also vary to meet expanding and contracting budgets.

Check out this line up of climbing/bouldering events:

LuckyDog Recreation is proud to offer this on-demand webinar for Trekfit where you can get an overall view of all their offerings and especially the unique manufacturing process of their boulders. Click here and enjoy

Call your LuckyDog Creative Play Designer today: 800-388-2196

Summer Shade is easy with LuckyDog Recreation

When planning the location for your new playground, shade should be a primary component of the planning process, not an afterthought. In the high desert west of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming we often forget that we have extremes of cold and hot for several weeks each year.

Being in direct sunlight can make the air feel 10-15 degrees warmer than it actually is because of the sun's rays touching your skin. Incorporating shade from landscaping elements such as trees and shrubs reduces heat from the sun’s rays. Evapotranspiration (the process by which a plant actively moves and releases water vapor) from trees can reduce surrounding air temperatures as much as 6° F.

Consider natural shade that can be provided by trees. Never be in too big a hurry to yank out an existing tree. Even if it has to be incorporated into the play area, LuckyDog’s play designers can help you keep that natural element to help shade south-facing play equipment that would otherwise be unusable on a really hot day or later in the afternoon.

Existing buildings can also provide great shade. In the planning process, consider that you don’t allow the eave overhang of a building to extend into the “use zone” of a playground. Also, consider whether or not water runoff from a building will cause excess water to puddle into a playground pit. Other than that, a building that can provide shade to a playground on the hottest part of the day is a cost-effective win.

If you don’t have trees or a building, LuckyDog’s shade experts can help you craft and create summer shade to help playground surfaces stay cool on hot summer days.

Check out these LuckyDog tips:

Let us know you are ready to talk about adding shade to your play space!

Have questions? Reach out to your LuckyDog Play Designer today!

Unleashing the Power of Terrain Effects: What You Need to Know

Prefabricated mounds, a new product exclusively from Luckydog Recreation and Playcraft Systems, offer limitless opportunities for playground design. They provide various configuration options, including standalone structures, standalone structures equipped with slides or climbers, and ones integrated with posts and decks. Furthermore, they can be functionally connected to post and deck playgrounds, paving the way for more dynamic and engaging play spaces.

Find out how to incorporate Terrain Effects from Playcraft Systems into your next project!

Dynamic Topography: Mounds introduce dynamic topography to playgrounds, creating an engaging and varied landscape for children to navigate. Unlike flat surfaces, mounds offer elevation changes that challenge motor skills and coordination, promoting physical development in a fun and natural way.

Imaginative Play Spaces: Children naturally gravitate toward imaginative play, and mounds provide an excellent canvas for fostering creativity. Landscape architects can design mounds to resemble hills, mountains, or abstract forms, encouraging children to invent stories, games, and scenarios as they interact with these unique features.

Natural Aesthetics: Mounds add a touch of natural aesthetics to the playground, blending the built environment with the organic elements of the surrounding landscape. Through thoughtful design, landscape architects can seamlessly integrate mounds into the overall layout, creating visually appealing and harmonious spaces that inspire a connection to nature.

Sensory Stimulation: 

The varied textures and slopes of mounds stimulate sensory experiences for children. Kids engage multiple senses, whether climbing, rolling, or running down slopes, enhancing their proprioception and spatial awareness. Landscape architects can strategically position mounds to cater to different age groups and developmental stages.

Social Interaction and Collaboration:

Mounds can serve as gathering spots for social interaction. Whether children collaborate on building projects, organize games, or enjoy each other's company, these elevated play areas foster teamwork and communication skills. Landscape architects can design mounds with multiple access points, encouraging shared experiences and inclusivity.

Integration into Post + Deck Systems:

Our prefabricated Mounds can be integrated into post and deck systems for slides, climbers, bridges, or links. This adds another element of aesthetics and child engagement. Landscape architects can leverage these features to design spaces that adhere to safety standards and inspire a sense of wonder and exploration.

Have questions? Reach out to your Luckydog Play Designer today!

Luckydog Recreation January Newsletter

Grant Updates 2024!!

Great news! Our 2024 resources are now updated, and packed with grants for your playground projects. Dive in, save big, and build something fun this year! Need a hand? Don't hesitate to reach out - we're here to help!

Click Here For Grant Opportunities 

LuckyDog Village East Apartments - Meridian, Idaho

Have Questions? Connect with your Creative Play Designer TODAY!

(800) 388-2196

Luckydog Recreation October Newsletter

Back to School Never Looked So Good!!

Learn more about Playcraft Systems amazing deal going on!


Your NEW PLAYGROUND could look like this!

Gaga Ball Pits Are Easy With This Gaga Ball Kit

GaGa Ball Pits take dodge ball to a whole new level of play and a Play Action Systems Gaga Ball kit makes the game easy to set up.

GaGa literally means “touch-touch” in Hebrew. The game is a variant of dodge ball played in a GaGa pit that is usually an octagon or hexagon shaped wall on top of a smooth surface of dirt, turf, or a rubber mat.

See the Gaga Ball Pit in Action…

Have Questions? Connect with your Creative Play Designer TODAY!

(800) 388-2196

Benefits of Co-Op Purchasing with Luckydog Recreation

Getting the playground you want at the price you deserve just got easier. Fundraising and grants are great ways to garner interest and funds for your upcoming playground project. But did you know you can also earn big money off your playground directly from the manufacturer?

Remember, these cooperatives (Co-Ops) are not simply a discount; they are nationally recognized purchasing contracts. Playcraft Systems offers a variety of savings through national purchasing contracts, and you can shop for the one that best fits your needs and situation. So what are the benefits? How do they work? Who can apply? Read on for more “big buck” savings.

Purchasing Contract Benefits

How Purchasing Cooperative Work

Allowable purchases include playground equipment, surfacing, and in some cases, the site work like concrete borders can be added to the scope of work. The only requirement is that purchaser be registered with the national purchasing agency by visiting their website and filling out a simple application.

Who Can Apply

· Education – K-12, Charter Schools, Private Schools Colleges, and Special Education n Districts

· Non-Profits - like churches, nursing homes and other charitable organizations

· Government – City, County, State Agencies, Park and Water Districts, etc.n

LuckyDog Purchasing Co-Ops

Here is a listing of the purchasing cooperatives through LuckyDog Recreation in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. And, if you have any questions at all reach out to us at 1-800-388-2196. We are here to help.

NASPO – ValuePoint supplier Partner (UT)

The state of Utah Purchasing Division awarded Playground Systems with the NASPO State Purchasing Contract to include playground equipment, fitness equipment, site furnishings, fabric shade, hardscape shade and many, many other outdoor sit amenities and furnishings. Work with LuckyDog to get the highest quality and get discounts on your next project. Because LuckyDog Recreation is a turn-key company, you can use your NASPO discount on your equipment and on installation. Now that’s value!

OMNIA Partners – Playcraft Systems

LuckyDog Recreation has helped dozens of playground owners acquire their equipment, surfacing, site work; the whole kit-n-caboodle using a purchasing Co-Op called Omnia Partners.

For Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming (Region 4 Education Service Center) our premier playground vendor, Playcraft Systems has been awarded the competitively solicited and publicly awarded contract to save you time and get you a HUGE discount on all your outdoor park or playground purchases with LuckyDog.

AEPA – Association of Educational Purchasing Agencies - Playcraft Systems (WY)

PPA – Public Procurement Authority - Playcraft Systems

GSA – Playcraft Systems

Ready to get started? Request a catalog here.

Luckydog Recreation September Newsletter

Looking to Get New Equipment? Let Luckydog Get You Started!

Luckydog Recreation helps take the mystery out of planning your playground.

From budgeting, fundraising, to location and installation considerations: it's all in the handy Planning Your Playground Guide

Back to School Video

Ask us about our Ready to Ship items!

Have Questions? Connect with your Creative Play Designer TODAY!

(800) 388-2196

Luckydog Recreation August Newsletter

Back-to-School Playgrounds-Ready-to-Ship Now!

Longer lead times on playgrounds got you down? Don't wait a moment longer. With five ready-to-ship items to choose from you can shop-till-you drop.
But when they're gone, they're gone, so give us a call today 1-800-388-2196!

Click to learn more.

Playground Maintenance: An Owners Duty

New playground owner’s responsibilities are two-fold, keep the children visiting their playground safe and maintaining the equipment, which in turn keeps children safe. Keeping children safe is just one of many reasons to have a written maintenance program. A good maintenance program will make your playground last longer. Just like the regular changing of the oil in your automobile extends its life, checking your playground equipment, surfacing, and surroundings for safety hazards, and checking wear and tear on parts can extend the life of your equipment. Read more...

LuckyDog Playground Maintenance Video

Have Questions? Connect with your Creative Play Designer TODAY!

(800) 388-2196

Playground Maintenance: An Owners Duty

New playground owner’s responsibilities are two-fold, keep the children visiting their playground safe and maintaining the equipment, which in turn keeps children safe. Keeping children safe is just one of many reasons to have a written maintenance program. A good maintenance program will make your playground last longer. Just like the regular changing of the oil in your automobile extends its life, checking your playground equipment, surfacing, and surroundings for safety hazards, and checking wear and tear on parts can extend the life of your equipment.

Next, should your organizations be named in a potential litigation situation because someone did get injured on your equipment, having routine maintenance records is the best risk management tool you can have as it shows you have exercised due diligence.

Based on the presupposition that, as a playground owner you are morally obligated to care enough to do regular inspections on your equipment, you may consider the following:

On staff CPSI - Are you or someone on your staff Certified Safety Playground Safety Inspectors? If not, do you have access to a CPSI with a partnering entity? If not, consider hiring a subcontractor or your playground installation professional. We have 4 CPSI’s on staff and are happy to help you with any questions you have about maintenance. Call 1-800-388-2196 today.

It’s helpful to know that hiring outside the organization pushes the liability to that subcontractor. Remember to obtain a copy of the subcontractors’ liability insurance. Be sure to request that your organization be listed as certificate holder. Also, you will want to weigh in on the cost of hiring out your inspections vs keeping it in-house. The cost of one professionally conducted inspection, could pay for educating one of your staff at the Certified Playground Safety Inspectors course, Course Link Here. This puts the power in your hands. The certification needs to be updated every three years, so there’s pros and cons to both avenues. What’s key here is that you want to be sure the people inspecting your equipment are properly trained to do so.

Recently we received this positive feedback from this customer.

Thank you for everything!

I really appreciate how responsive you and your company is. I wish other playground sales reps would take note (there's one that's driving me nuts)!

And if that wasn't enough (which it is) the gift cards are very nice, way above and beyond!

So thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate the great service!

Have a great weekend, stay cool

-- Happy LuckyDog Costumer

Valuable Maintenance Downloads

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!