Identifying tips and practices for a more sustainable future



Inspired by nature, City of Denver introduces new playground

Denver,CO – Using a design alternative to traditional playgrounds with slides, monkey bars and swings, Denver Parks and Recreation has planned several natural playgrounds featuring recycled trees and boulders.

“Studies show that when kids go to a traditional playground, they get bored quickly, whereas with nature play done well, kids stay longer and come back more frequently,” said Gordon Robertson, director of park planning for Denver Parks and Recreation.

Three nature playgrounds are under construction in Denver and set to break ground this year. The first to open, at Pasquinel’s Landing Park, will consist of wood that came from city park trees as well as a resident’s front yard. The way the trees are secured into place, just above the ground with mulch filling the gaps will help preserve the wood for 15-25-yeas.

The idea for nature play was introduced to the city in 2015 at Johnson Habitat Park, which opened a nature-play component featuring a mix of wooden logs and boulders and synthetic play structures made to look like things found in nature.

Emily Patterson, parks for people program manager for the Trust for Public Land, believes the appeal in natural playgrounds is connecting youth to the outdoors in ways that let their imagination take over and open doors to exploring more of the terrain. She noted numerous barriers that prevent some youth from experiencing the outdoors.

“There’s a lot of momentum here in Colorado to overcome those barriers so we can have nature in our parks and incorporate nature in a way that is sustainable in our parks,” Patterson said. “We will see more of it in Colorado and Denver.

Denver Post article

City and County of Denver contact:  Mark Tabor, Assistant Director of Planning, Parks and Recreation,

For resources and tools related to sustainability, visit the Center for Sustainability (C4S) site and C4S Toolkit.