How to Budget for a New Playground Structure for Your School, Park, Daycare, Church, or Neighborhood


Whether it’s at a community center, church, park, school, or daycare, children love to play. Great playground equipment leads to squeals of delight. But playgrounds aren’t just for entertainment; they also improve physical and emotional development in children.

Unlike structured games or play, accessible and inclusive playground equipment allows for free play. Free play provides children with the opportunity to explore and learn from their surroundings and friends and is the most beneficial type of play. It lets children develop their learning skills and bond with other kids.

Playgrounds also give kids a chance to be more physically active during an impressionable stage of their lives. Not only can it keep them physically fit, but it also reduces stress and anxiety, and can improve self-esteem. And because it’s fun, children enjoy the physical activity.

If you’re looking to add playground equipment to your property, the cost may seem overwhelming at first. However, by properly budgeting and tapping the right resources, your organization or community may find it’s easier to fund this important investment than you might think.

How Much Does Playground Equipment Cost?

Your playground budget will obviously depend on the size and design of the installation. Generally, you’re looking at around $1,000 per child. On average, playground equipment costs between $8,000 and $50,000. When you choose larger, high-end features, you could be looking at costs as high as $150,000.

Whether you’re building a new playground or upgrading and expanding an existing one, the key to success is budgeting. The most critical step in this process is the planning phase, so pay attention to the following:


You must include safety surfacing on your playground to prevent injuries from falls. The budget for surfacing preparation and installation depends on the type of surface you choose, such as rubber or wood. You’ll want to remember that rubberized surfaces require little to no maintenance throughout the years, while engineered wood fiber requires work to maintain, so while wood might be cheaper up front, rubberized surfaces are cheaper in the long run.


Your playground site will need to be prepared and surfaced before installing the equipment. You may also need to clear the area before installation, which can be costly. Always know the landscape where you’d like to install the equipment and work the necessary preparation into your budget.


Having extra amenities can help attract more families to your playground, but they must, of course, be added to the budget. Whether you choose accommodations such as tables and benches or grills and bike racks, be sure that they fall within your budget and are worth the extra cost. Will they appeal to the families in your area? Take things like demographics, the proximity of bike trails, and ages of local kids into consideration.

Freight and Taxes

Equipment shipping costs can vary depending on what company your order from and how close they are to your location. Your shipping costs will increase the further away the company is. Generally, you should leave about five percent of your budget open for freight and taxes and always research to see if you can get the same equipment and materials from a company in closer proximity.

Additional Tips

  • Always have the right permits before you start building.
  • If you don’t already have things like wheelchair-accessible paths and surrounding sidewalks, make sure you account for the cost of adding them.
  • Try to choose a relatively flat site with good drainage.
  • Arrange to work with a storage facility in case your equipment shows up earlier than expected.

How Can You Pay for Playground Equipment?

Coming up with the money to build or expand your playground may sound like a daunting task, but there are a variety of fundraising options. Consider the following to raise the money you need:

Parent Teacher Association

An active PTA can be a great help in raising money. Leave them in charge of finding areas to cut costs and deciding how to fundraise. PTA members are usually very dedicated to improving the school environment.


Ask businesses and individuals to make donations to help pay for playground equipment. Offering to memorialize them with a sign, bench, or plaque can help sweeten the deal. Many companies and organizations are very conscious about helping out their community, and if it helps to promote their business, all the better.

School Budget

While most schools have tight budgets, many are willing to put money towards a new playground which can get you started. Ask if they can match donations or even contribute a smaller amount. You may be surprised by what they tell you.


Some communities and schools have had good luck raising money for their equipment online through crowdfunding. These days there are a multitude of websites available that let you set up and share a crowdfunding campaign with your local community.


Something that may surprise you is the number of grants available to help fund new or upgrading playgrounds. You can easily research these grant opportunities on the web and apply to the ones that are appropriate to your particular situation.

Is Playground Equipment Worth the Investment?

While commercial playground equipment is a big investment with no real monetary benefits, it does greatly affect the community at large in a positive and healthy way by providing physical and emotional activities for kids. Children have the freedom to socialize, learn, and be active through unstructured play, which is an incredibly important part of growing up. A good playground plays a large role in helping them grow up happy and healthy.

Playground equipment has a high cost but is well worth the money. Whether you need to cover the costs of land and site preparation, amenities, or just equipment installation, there are numerous resources available to help you with funding. Try mixing and matching fundraising methods to come up with the money you need to improve your community or school grounds.