The Essential Guide to Natural Playgrounds

Explore the role of nature in playground design, creating eco-friendly and stimulating spaces.


As children’s play evolves in an increasingly digital world, it is vital to provide them with opportunities to connect with nature and the environment. Natural playgrounds, also known as nature-based playgrounds, have emerged as a wonderful solution to foster this connection while promoting sustainability. Pennine Playgrounds, a leading supplier and installer of commercial playgrounds, is at the forefront of advocating for incorporating natural elements in playground designs. Let’s delve into the world of natural playgrounds and explore how they can benefit children and the environment.

The Benefits of Natural Playgrounds

Natural playgrounds offer a myriad of benefits that go beyond traditional playground designs. By incorporating sustainable materials and green spaces, these play areas create an enriching experience for children while promoting environmental stewardship. Let’s explore some key advantages:

  1. Enhanced Connection with Nature:
    Nature-based playgrounds provide children with the opportunity to interact with natural elements like playground boulders, logs, and wood structures. Engaging with these materials encourages imaginative play and fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world.
  2. Physical and Mental Development:
    Playing in nature promotes physical activity and encourages children to take calculated risks, improving their motor skills and self-confidence. Additionally, the calming effect of green spaces can enhance children’s mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety.
  3. Environmental Education:
    By immersing children in natural play areas, they develop a sense of environmental awareness and responsibility. Understanding the importance of sustainability from an early age will help create environmentally conscious adults.
Nature-Based Playground Equipment by Pennine Playgrounds

Pennine Playgrounds takes pride in designing and installing innovative nature play equipment that aligns with the principles of sustainability. With a focus on natural playscapes, the company offers an array of wood playground equipment that complements the environment while providing exciting play experiences.

  1. Playground Logs:
    Crafted from sustainably sourced timber, playground logs add an element of nature to the play area. Children can balance, climb, and explore their creativity with these natural play materials.
  2. Playground Boulders:
    Incorporating playground boulders not only encourages climbing and balancing skills but also mimics the experience of climbing on real rocks, fostering a stronger connection with nature.
  3. Wood Playground Structures:
    Pennine Playgrounds designs nature-based playground equipment using wood to create unique play structures. From climbing frames to imaginative playhouses, these structures blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings.
Nature Playground Ideas and Designs

Nature-based playgrounds offer endless possibilities for creative designs that cater to different age groups and play preferences. Here are some nature playground ideas that Pennine Playgrounds can bring to life:

  1. Woodland Adventure:
    Transform the playground into a woodland adventure with wooden play structures, log stepping stones, and natural materials like leaves and pinecones. Children can explore the wonders of nature through play.
  2. Sensory Garden:
    Incorporate a sensory garden within the playground, featuring fragrant plants, textured surfaces, and colourful flowers. This design stimulates the senses and encourages children to engage with nature in a multi-dimensional way.
  3. Water Play Area:
    Integrate a water play zone with flowing streams and shallow pools, allowing children to interact with water while learning about its significance in the environment.
Embracing Nature for a Sustainable Future

By embracing natural playground design, we not only create stimulating play spaces for children but also contribute to a sustainable future. Nature-based playgrounds align can enhance children’s connection with the environment, support the development of eco-friendly communities and provide educational settings with diverse outdoor spaces that can be used for both education and play.

Natural play and BS EN 1176

When natural elements are incorporated into play areas, it’s not always possible for all elements of the play area to comply with BS EN 1176 and BS EN 1177. This is because industry equipment standards have limited relevance when assessing natural play features. Trees, boulders, mounds, logs, ponds, flower beds and other natural features cannot usefully be thought of in terms of the standards and assessors who conduct risk-benefit assessments need to know as much about the benefits of play provision as about the risks. HSE has agreed that a ‘risk-benefit’ assessment, details of which are set out in Managing Risk in Play Provision, is an appropriate assessment for play spaces.

When purchasing a new playground, buyers should ensure they are purchasing from a company that is knowledgeable about natural play and that any fixed playground equipment provided does comply with BS EN 1176 and BS EN 1177. 


Natural playgrounds offer a remarkable opportunity to foster children’s connection with the environment while promoting physical, mental, and emotional development. Pennine Playgrounds’ commitment to incorporating sustainable materials and green spaces in their nature play equipment contributes to a brighter and greener future for generations to come. Together, let us create playgrounds that inspire a love for nature and a sense of responsibility to protect our planet.

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