How to Design a Quality Dog Park

With pet ownership consistently on the rise, it shouldn’t be a surprise that communities across the country are introducing dog parks! Enjoyable for both owners and their pets, an unleashed dog park allows dogs to run and play off-leash and provides much needed exercise and socialization.

How do you begin designing a dog park?

It Starts with Location

Now that you have decided to build a dog park, you have to find somewhere to put it. When looking at locations throughout your community, you will need to think of access as well as the natural landscape. There are often unused areas of land throughout a community that may be a good option. The area doesn’t have to be flat and it doesn’t have to be a perfect rectangle. A good place to start is to involve the community and the dog owners that will be using the space. What would they like to see?

Factors to consider when choosing your location:

  • Approximately 1-5 Acres. Space should be large enough for the park to not become overcrowded and small enough to keep the park well-controlled.
  • Drainage. You want to prevent muddy conditions.
  • Water Fountains. Dogs will need water while exercising and using the park.
  • Shade. This will prevent any overheating during the hotter summer days.
  • Accessibility to those with mobility devices. Inclusion is essential so all people can enjoy the space.
  • 5-6 Foot Fencing. It’s important to make the fence high enough to keep dogs from jumping over it.
  • Benches. Owners will stay around longer if they have somewhere to sit and relax while supervising their pets.
  • Signs. A clear display of the park rules is typically placed at entrances/exits so they are easily visible to all.
  • Parking. Nearby parking makes it easy for community members to enter the park.
  • Buffer zone. Landscaping around the dog park creates a border between the park and neighbors.
  • Waste Stations. A must to give individuals the ability to clean up after their dog and keep the dog park an enjoyable place for everyone.

Agility Equipment

When you observe dogs in an outdoor setting, they are typically jumping over things, running, going under the bushes or climbing. It’s important to imitate these obstacles by including dog park equipment. In addition to offering the benefit of overall exercise, dog park agility equipment can help dogs build strength, gain confidence, and improve their agility.

ParknPool highly recommends that when you are considering your equipment, you want pieces that will withstand the outdoor elements. To keep our 4-legged family members safe, dog park equipment needs to be durable and installed properly. Making sure that your new dog park is equipped with amenities such as waste stations, benches, agility equipment and water fountains is the perfect way to wrap up the finishing touches.

Finally, in designing your dog park, please keep in mind the following best practices:

  • The best dog parks are those that include activities for dogs of all sizes.
  • The best layout is one that is fenced in with an accessible path to and from the parking lot.
  • The best separation idea is to create separate areas for small dogs and large dogs.

Ready to get started? Contact ParknPool today!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Complete Guide for Choosing the Right Commercial Grade Umbrella

Commercial grade umbrellas for outdoor use come in various shapes, sizes, colors and their cost may vary. Their ability to enhance an outdoor space, however, is invaluable. They are essential for those that want to provide shade to create a comfortable environment for patrons. From waterparks, hotels and restaurants, it is possible to find reliable solutions that will provide years of trouble-free use.

If you are ready to make these enhancements within your space, you may be wondering how to choose the right umbrella for the project. You can determine which commercial grade umbrella to choose by considering these factors:

  • The amount of shade needed.
  • The size of the space to be shaded.
  • The site’s environment.
  • The umbrellas’ quality.

Picking the Right Size

Understanding your size requirements will help you decide whether you need one or more umbrellas to provide ample amount of shade in your space. Measure your space or ask experts for help if needed! To have the best outcome in your commercial outdoor space, it’s important to consider size and placement. Measuring is much better than guessing and being stuck with an umbrella that doesn’t fit correctly. Commercial grade umbrellas typically range from 7 feet to 11 feet for in table use. The size you need is largely based on the size table:

  • 36 Inch Table = 7 Foot Umbrella
  • 48 Inch Table = 9 Foot Umbrella

Considering Durability and Weather Resistance

Commercial grade umbrellas are built to better sustain the unpredictable abuse of the wind. They offer a heavy-duty aluminum pole for extra strength and fiberglass ribs to bend but not break. You need to choose umbrellas with a canopy of high-performance fabric that is water repellant, resistant to mildew and fade, provides UV ray protection and is vented at the top to help release pressure in windy conditions.

Most organizations want to spend a minimum amount of time and effort in maintaining and replacing their umbrellas. Choose a good quality, rust-resistant product with a weather resistant canopy that will last for years. Under normal wear and tear, commercial grade umbrellas should look well-seasoned and not weather-beaten!

Pricing

The best commercial grade umbrellas may cost a little more but when working with ParknPool, you will still receive the most competitive pricing. Because our high-quality umbrellas will last longer, you will get a better return on your investment. We understand it’s important to stick to a budget so let us help you find a commercial grade umbrella option that gives you the most value for your money.

Safety

One of your top priorities is safety! When choosing an umbrella, you’ll want to deeply consider safety as a determining factor. Carefully choose a product that meets the highest safety and quality standards. Be selective and choose a brand like ParknPool that addresses the safety of your patrons.

Commercial Umbrellas vs. Residential Umbrellas

The major difference between a commercial grade umbrella and a residential one that you can find at your local store or online is that commercial grade umbrellas are mostly larger and built more durable for commercial usage. While a common home umbrella is used as decoration, commercial umbrellas are built as add-ons for both style and functionality.

There are a few reasons why commercial grade umbrellas are favored over other types:

  • They are affordable. Constructing an outdoor patio area with a roof can get costly. Umbrellas are relatively inexpensive by comparison. Considering they can create the exact same effect, it is no wonder they are usually the first option considered by owners.
  • They are foldable. It is very easy to store away commercial grade umbrellas when you no longer need to use them. This gives you the flexibility to free up space almost immediately.
  • They can be personalized. In certain commercial settings, branding is everything. An umbrella can serve as an extra vehicle for marketing your brand.
  • They are user-friendly. There is no need for complicated manuals or help from a professional in the daily setting-up and down of umbrellas. You can shift the umbrellas from one spot to another without much effort. You can also open and shut them as you please to allow as much sunlight or shade as you wish.

Types and Styles of Commercial Grade Umbrellas

Umbrellas are available in a plethora of different shapes and sizes. While it is easy to get confused by all the options, keeping your needs in mind is a good way to narrow down your choices.

Centerpost umbrellas are your most common umbrella where the pole in the center connects to a base. Typically, these are used for seating arrangements where you have an umbrella in the center of a table.
Cantilever umbrellas are different from those with a centerpost because their stands are not conventionally in the center but off to the side. They are great for areas with restrictive space, where it would not always be possible to put an umbrella in an upright stand.

If you are looking for new commercial grade umbrellas, you will need to keep these key features in mind and give us a call!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Emerging Industry Trends: Parks and Recreation

Parks are essential in establishing and maintaining the quality of life in any community, ensuring the health of families and youth, and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community and a region. The pandemic brought social isolation and loneliness, upsetting people’s emotions. People are increasingly using parks and green spaces to get rid of loneliness and spring back to emotional and mental health.

“The pandemic has forever altered the parks and recreation industry including several others. There’s no going back to ‘the way things were’. For organizations to thrive in this new normal, it is critical that they embrace change, adopt new technologies and build a culture of innovation organization-wide.”

Prioritizing the Parks and Recreation Budget

Parks were one of the most hit areas with the onset of the pandemic. According to Recreation Management, nearly two-thirds reported a fall in revenues in 2020. With stay-at-home orders in place, the number of people visiting parks and recreation centers drastically decreased. In a recent study by the NRPA, 77% of American adults consider high-quality parks and recreation amenities as important factors when choosing a new place to live. It is becoming more critical for parks and recreation professionals to continue to nurture parks as the hubs of healthy living. Park visits after the lockdowns of 2020 have increased by 63%, providing great spaces to escape and unite with friends and family.

So, what are the emerging trends for 2022? Let’s take a look!

Utilizing Parks and Recreation Spaces

With COVID-19 bringing health into sharp focus, people have become more concerned about their well-being. They are showing a renewed interest in parks, trails and recreation facilities. The NRPA conference in 2021 touched upon the value of bringing people into recreational spaces and also re-imagining public streets as active places for community action. The year 2020 seemed to have resonated the significance of good health more than ever. Parks and green spaces can play a major role in providing an opportunity for all to experience nature. Authorities have been trying to convert every available space in dense urban areas to parks and open spaces. It is expected in 2022 and beyond, parks will be increasingly seen as multi-benefit landscapes that support physical activity, provide shade, prevent heat effects, and support environmental resiliency. Empty mall garages and big-box stores are even being converted to park and recreation uses, such as skate parks and program spaces. Parks may also be developed underground, by converting unused tunnels and underground transportation infrastructures as new park sites.

Building a Sense of Community

Parks act as places for people to connect and work together in a collective environment. They are one of the quickest and most valuable ways to build a sense of community among people. They motivate people from diverse backgrounds to work together to achieve a shared vision. They are profound, open, and welcoming spaces that provide a sense of community. They work as accessible social spaces for healing, nurturing and strengthening communities and need to be preserved. Parks provide spaces for people from different walks of life to come together. Today, parks and recreation leaders are focused on creating a level playing field that makes it easy for everyone to get involved with the community. Municipal agencies and their planning departments routinely engage people from their communities to provide input in the design and planning of parks and open spaces. These measures make people feel better connected to their communities. This growing public participation is productive and rewarding. It helps create and maintain thriving urban open spaces.

Tech in Parks and Recreation

Parks and recreation systems are implementing new technologies such as automatic mowing equipment, self-maintained toilets, robotic cleaning systems, and semi-autonomous drones for various tasks. As cities are turning smarter, so are the parks. People now expect quality Wi-Fi access in parks and welcome access to charging stations and downloadable content such as augmented reality walks, games and exhibits. Technology will continue to impact the parks and recreation business. While it will determine how they interact with the public, it will also help maintain and manage data.

Be it physical, mental, social or emotional, park and recreation as a segment is critical for nurturing a community’s healthy growth. Agencies related to parks and rec should consistently keep innovating to engage their community members and evolve these spaces as inclusive landscapes for all-round development. If you are a park and recreation professional looking for ways to enhance your outdoor spaces, contact us today!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Making the Grade with Outdoor Classrooms

The effects of the COVID pandemic on our public school systems has created an increased need of outdoor spaces for their students to learn. The seating and site furnishings are important aspects of an outdoor classroom because they help create practical and comfortable areas for instruction. The arrangement of the seating should meet physical distancing requirements, be arranged so that teachers can be heard, allow room to access each seat, and provide accessible space for students with special needs.

Picnic table design and size varies greatly. Designs can include rectangular bench seating on two sides of a table, in the shape of a square, hexagon, or circle with a continuous bench running around the entire table. If picnic tables will be used for instruction, use tables with a more solid style top to allow students to write more easily. Picnic tables can be purchased and installed by career tech education, by construction classes at the local high schools, by school facilities departments, by neighborhood volunteers, or by local community service organizations (i.e. The Scouts).

Providing shade for your students learning outside is an important aspect of an outdoor classroom. Depending on the climate in which you are located, the beginning and end of each school year can experience pretty high temperatures and right much sunlight. The shade will provide protection from the harmful sunrays, prevent glare on any electronic screens being used, keep students and teachers from having to squint which can cause headaches, and allow for a more comfortable outdoor learning experience. Keeping these shade structures clear of tables can provide a great space for reading circles, P.E. games and a picnic style lunch opportunity.

A few key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Seat students so they are within hearing distance of a teacher who is speaking at a comfortable level, even when wearing a mask.
  2. Seating areas should not block emergency access for the fire department or in any way impede safety on a school campus.
  3. Seating should be placed on a flat or gently sloped area. Avoid steep slopes to ensure that seating is easily accessible for everyone.
  4. Ensure all materials are nontoxic, have no sharp edges or protrusions, and are as durable as possible to withstand use during the school year.
  5. School programs must provide seating for students with disabilities and mobility challenges. To be in compliance with ADA requirements, place seating areas on or adjacent to wheelchair accessible pathways and include space for wheelchair users.

Is your public school system looking to install outdoor classrooms for the 2022-2023 school year? Give us a call today!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Your Complete Guide to Playground Surfacing

Playgrounds are found everywhere in the United States. They are designed to support children as they learn, play and grow. This guide will provide you with information to make informed decisions about what playground surfacing materials are best!

Designing a safe playground starts from the ground up. It is important to have safe playground equipment, but the surface under the equipment also makes a difference. The ground covering impacts how accessible and safe the playground is, as well as how enjoyable is it for children to play.

When it comes to playground surface options, it matters which material you choose. Children need a soft place to land when they jump or fall. Some surfaces offer superior playground fall protection, while other materials are simply unsafe. Falls onto playground surfaces are the number one reason children get sent to the emergency room.

A properly installed shock-absorbing surface is vital to creating a safe playground. The chances of being injured on an impact-absorbing surface are less than half compared to non-impact-absorbing surfaces. Kids should feel safe and happy while they play, and a quality surface material is a crucial part of that. Choosing the appropriate playground surface for your playground is not as difficult as it might seem. However, you will need to consider certain factors such as budget, playground size, and your vision. Some materials are less expensive to install but don’t provide as much accessibility and tend to have more involved maintenance. On the other hand, some surface materials have a high up-front cost but don’t require as much maintenance over time and provide a consistently safe environment. When it comes down to it, safety should always be the priority!

There are two main groups of surface coverings: loose-fill and unitary.

  • Loose-fill coverings are made of smaller pieces that are installed to create an even surface made of loose pieces. These types of surfaces are typically less expensive to install but require more maintenance and refills.
  • Unitary surfaces are comprised of singular materials installed into a level surface. These surfaces are more expensive to install but tend to require less maintenance in the long run.

Each surface type has benefits as well as health concerns, specifically with regard to maintenance and ASTM impact standards. ASTM is the world’s largest source of standards for materials, goods, services and systems. It provides guidance on the depth of fill material for playgrounds to ensure children are protected.

What are the different types of loose fill surface materials?

Sand

While sand is affordable, easy to install and provides good cushioning, it can conceal sharp objects, animal waste and other debris. In addition, children might be tempted to eat or throw sand. It can also be carried home with them in their shoes or clothes. Sand requires lots of maintenance and is not considered to be ADA accessible.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
InexpensiveNot ADA Accessible
Easy to InstallEasily Consumed by Children
Good Impact AbsorptionDisguises Insects and Other Pests
Prevents Bacterial GrowthRequires Constant Maintenance

Pea Gravel

In terms of playground surfacing, pea gravel carries the same advantages and disadvantages as sand, with a few exceptions. Pea gravel is also inexpensive, easy to install and is not ADA accessible. It typically does drain rain water better than sand. Although pea gravel can cushion a fall, it is not a safe option for smaller children. As with sand, pea gravel requires constant maintenance to keep it at a safe level.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
InexpensiveNot ADA Accessible
Easy to InstallEasy to Place in nose, mouth, ears, etc.
Unattractive to InsectsEasily Consumed by Children
Drains Easier than SandRequires Constant Maintenance

Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)

EWF is all-natural, forms a smooth, accessible surface, and is more affordable than unitary surfaces. EWF offers excellent impact absorption, is easy to install, and stays in place better than sand or pea gravel. EWF still requires regular maintenance, especially in high-use areas like beneath swings.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Easy to InstallMade from Completely New Wood
Good Impact AbsorptionMore expensive than Gravel or Sand
Stays in Place BetterRequires Regular Maintenance

Rubber Mulch

Rubber Mulch has the shape and texture of wood chips but is made of rubber. Most commonly, rubber mulch is made of recycled tires, making it the most eco-friendly playground surface. There are many advantages to rubber mulch, including its mid-range cost and relatively low maintenance. Compared to similar surfaces like wood mulch, rubber mulch doesn’t decompose over time. It is also available in a wide variety of colors to match the playground equipment.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Easy to InstallEasily Consumed by Children
Best Impact AbsorptionCan be Tracked off the Playground
Won’t DecomposeRegular Replenishment Required

Having a good material to cover your playground ensures that children have a safe place to play, while also offering protection from the ground itself. If you have any questions about these surfacing options or our unitary surface options, give us a call!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

The Use of Site Furnishings in Your Landscape Design

Site furnishings such as benches, tables, trash receptacles and more highlight your social space and draw indoor activities outdoors. Face-to-face social interaction is something we take for granted in this technology driven, fast-paced world. Our connections through cell phones and social media make us feel closer to each other than ever, causing our face-to-face interactions to suffer. Let’s take a look at how site amenities and furnishings can foster a better social environment.

What are Site Furnishings?

Site Furnishings make a space more comfortable for visitors and, when used properly, create a more dynamic space for social interaction.

Types of Site Furnishings

These types of outdoor site furnishings create organized spaces for people to sit and stay a while. Benches and tables establish places to gather, spend time and even have lunch. Trash receptacles encourage a clean environment. Bike racks prevent the clutter of improper bike parking to trees, signs or fence posts. Shade structures offer a break from the sun and planters full of blooming flowers add beauty.

Identifying the Right Site Furnishings

Instead of being an afterthought and considered as a “finishing touch”, site amenities and furnishings should be added early on. In addition to the architectural design elements, these amenities are an opportunity to establish an identity and character for your space. When designing your space, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which pieces best match the character and identity of the space?
  • Do they welcome people to the space?
  • How do we arrange them in a way that promotes socialization?

The smallest detail such as shape, length, color and material have a significant impact on how the outdoor space compliments the surrounding buildings. How often the space is used once completed is a solid indicator on the success of your design.

The seasonal weather in your area needs to be considered when selecting the type of site furniture. The pieces you choose should be able to withstand exposure to the elements. While cost and durability are considered with any project, it’s important to keep in mind that cheap doesn’t necessarily mean low cost. The continuous maintenance costs for a cheaper option will add up over time. Saving a few dollars in the short term may result in higher costs for repair or replacement in the future.

Looking to create an inviting outdoor space in your landscape design? Give us a call today for more information on site furnishings!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Spring Cleaning Your Pool Furniture for Summer

Setting up a routine cleaning schedule is important for keeping your pool furniture looking good, but a good wipe down is never more necessary than after they’ve sat through the elements of a harsh winter. That climate can leave your furniture looking worn out! Below are some helpful tips for cleaning pool furniture of all types.

Removing Debris

Dust, leaves, and other debris is likely to gather on any furniture that has been left uncovered without use. Begin your cleaning by using a brush or cloth to wipe this away. Most all of ParknPool’s commercial grade pool furniture pieces can be sprayed down with a water hose to dislodge any additional debris.

Mold and Mildew

When your pool furniture is left out to succumb to rain and humidity, it can become damp making it prone to mold and mildew. This can be managed by making sure the furniture is dry then scrubbed with a brush and sprayed with a hose to rinse. If stubborn mold and mildew still lingers, you can wipe furniture down with full-strength vinegar and a hard-bristled brush.

Cleaning Methods by Material

  • Resin: ParknPool’s resin furniture is an economical option and is available in a variety of styles. In addition, it’s the easiest to maintain as it has a glossy finish that’s naturally stain resistant. All you’ll need is a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth. Steer clear of abrasives and hard scrubbing pads. These can scuff and scratch the resin surface.
  • Aluminum: This is also a common option for pool furniture. An aluminum frame is most commonly paired with either vinyl straps or fabric slings. Improper care and maintenance can greatly reduce the life of your pool furniture and can even void any warranty. Follow these easy tips to ensure the longest possible use from your furniture. (1) Wash your aluminum frame furniture with soapy water every three weeks or more often if needed. Use a mild detergent and soft rag or brush to clean the vinyl straps and aluminum frame. Be sure to get the pollutants, such as sunscreen or chlorine, off immediately. (2) Wax the aluminum frame with a light, non-compound car wax. Buff out scratches on the frame with Soft Scrub and a soft rag.
  • Fabric: ParknPool’s sling furniture and fabric umbrella options all look great but after a few seasons of use, they can begin to show evidence of wear. The safest method for cleaning is to use a solution of dish soap and water. Once clean you may want to apply a water-repellant fabric protector to minimize future stains.

Though the above methods, if done regularly, can prolong the life of your furniture, you may still reach a point when your furniture develops stains that are impervious to cleaning. If these cleaning methods aren’t effective, it may be time to purchase replacements. Whether needing clarification on maintenance and care or needing to order new pool furniture, give us a call!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Facts, Tips, and How-To’s

Campfires are the nation’s leading cause of children’s camping injuries, and the primary cause of forest fires.

Four out of five forest fires are started by people, according to the US Forest Service.

More than 6.9 million acres of land burned as a result of wildfires in 2002.

In 2000, one out of every five person-caused forest fire was started by an out of control campfire.

A campfire is a key element of camping, here are a few simple steps to make maintaining your campfire easier:

  • Keep your campfire to a manageable size.
  • Never use gasoline to start a campfire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Make sure children are supervised when they are around a campfire.
  • Select a location that is downwind and away from your camper or tent.
  • Never put glass in a campfire, it doesn’t always melt away.
  • Aluminum cans do not burn, and inhaling aluminum dust can be harmful to your lungs.
  • Campfires may be restricted in the summer, so before building one, check with rangers or the campground office to find out.

Maybe you don’t have a ParknPool fire ring, here’s how to build your own from scratch.

  1. Choose a spot that’s downwind protected, and at least 15 feet from your tent or camper.
  2. Clear a 10 ft. diameter around the site, and remove all grass, twigs and leaves. DON’T forget to make sure there aren’t any limbs overhanging.
  3. Dig a pit in the dirt about a foot deep.
  4. Use rocks and make a circle around the pit.
  5. Now, your campfire pit is ready for preparation.

Preparing your fire pit:

  1. Fill the pit with small pieces of dry wood.
  2. Always place your unused firewood upwind away from your fire.
  3. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby at all times.

A blazing campfire is a responsibility, and it is your job to properly extinguish your campfire so that future campers will do the same.

When you are ready to put out your fire, follow these guidelines:

  • If possible, allow your wood to burn completely to ash.
  • LOTS of water should be poured on your fire, drown ALL embers (a glowing fragment from a fire), not just the red ones.
  • Make sure you pour water on the fire until the hissing sound stops.
  • Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
  • Remove any embers by scraping all of the sticks and logs.
  • Stir and make sure everything is wet, and that they are also cold to the touch.
  • If water is not available, use dirt. Mix enough dirt with the embers, and continue adding and stirring until the remains are cool.

REMEMBER: DO NOT bury a fire, for the fire will continue to slowly burn and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and cause the start of a wildfire.

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Dog Park

What is a dog park?

A dog park is a location set aside for dogs to exercise and play in a controlled environment under the watchful eye of their owners. It is a safe setting for both dogs and humans to interact with each other and to possibly learn more about other breeds and their behaviors. It is a great opportunity for owners to play with their pets where they otherwise might not be able to do so – such as in cities or areas with little to no yards.

Getting Started

You’ve finally decided that your community needs a dog park…GREAT! The next step is to gain support for the project. The best way to start is to go out and talk to people who are already walking their dogs. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your neighborhood, you’d be surprised at how many dog owners would love the opportunity to be involved. The best way to get the word out is clever marketing.

Many groups decide to incorporate as non-profits, where they have formal meetings and elect officers. This helps to have a strong group of individuals who are passionate about their dogs and can ban together to overcome any objections. Also, find a city official who will support the dog park concept. Having a city official who is a dog person will help pave the way for you.

Be prepared for objections. There is always going to be someone out there who will disagree with you, spelling out proposed rules for users before a park is even established will help to counter those objections.

Decide on a time to meet with the newly established committee and discuss your plan of action.

Choosing a Location

Your new group will need to find the perfect spot for the dog park. Most small dog parks are no bigger than one acre. Make sure you choose a location that the masses can access. This will ensure that the park will be a hit and will have a better chance of being passed by your local Parks and Recreation Department.

Once you have selected a site, it helps to let the community know of your plans, just in case it may interfere with the plans of other organizations.

Post flyers at veterinary offices, groomers, pet stores, grocery stores, etc. See if your local newspaper or radio station would be interested in doing a small story about your proposed idea.

Once enough interest has been gained, you should submit a letter and any signed petitions to your local Parks and Recreation Department.

You’ll need to make sure that you have a clear outline about the need for a dog park and a proposed plan. Focus on how the dog park would be a benefit to your community as a whole, not just for the dogs.

The parks department will then be able to decide if the area you have chosen is available for use or if there is another area to consider.

Benefits & Rules

Dog parks are a fantastic way for community members of all ages to interact with each other. With low start up and maintenance costs, dog parks offer a great return on investment since park users are often voting adults. Dog parks offer outdoor exercise for most park users – which can help battle against obesity.

You might face the opposition asking why should valuable park space be set aside just for dogs? The answer: dog parks are not just for the pets. The people that bring their pets use the space just as much as the animals. It also is a way for people who can’t handle a dog full time the chance to interact with dogs.

To ensure the safety of everyone involved, here are a few basics to consider:

  1. Dogs must remain on a leash to and from the parking lot.
  2. All dogs must have their vaccinations.
  3. Recommend that dogs be spayed or neutered.
  4. Dogs should be licensed.
  5. Dogs should be accompanied by their owner or a dog walker.
  6. Owners should dispose of their dogs feces in appropriate waste stations.
  7. Establish decent park hours.
  8. Dogs showing any signs of aggression must be leashed and immediately removed from the park

To Leash or Not To Leash

When starting a dog park it’s important to consider the differences between an on-leash dog park and an off-leash dog park. Below are the pros and cons for an off-leash dog park.

Pros:

  1. Provides a community setting in which owners can observe the interaction of groups of dogs at play.
  2. Dogs and owners can spend time together while allowing the dog to satisfy its craving for play and companionship.
  3. Allows dogs to get plenty of exercise that would normally be restricted by a leash.
  4. Dog owners can learn about other dogs and training.
  5. Other public parks will be free of dogs off-leash.
  6. A leash can cause a dog to become territorial.

Cons:

  1. Some dogs may be intimidated by large groups of dogs.
  2. There is the potential for dogs to fight.
  3. There is the potential for dogs to bite adults or children.
  4. Some owners don’t control their dogs.
  5. If dogs aren’t properly vaccinated there is a potential to spread diseases.

Amenities

Once the site has been chosen and construction is about to begin, there are certain things that every dog park should include:

  1. A 4′-6′ fence with double-gated entry and exit
  2. Nearby parking
  3. Water fountains for both dogs and owners
  4. Seating (i.e. picnic tables or benches)
  5. Shaded areas
  6. Pet Waste Stations
  7. Trash Receptacles

These are just the basics. Feel free to be creative by adding swimming ponds, agility equipment or separate walking trails. Your goal is to have an area that is inviting for both dogs and their owners. Place benches both inside and outside the fence line of the park. This allows those passing by to sit and watch the playful pooches.

Having a small and a large dog park does mean an extra fence line but it does not mean double the amenities. Placing the drinking fountain outside the fenced areas means only purchasing one set. It also allows dogs to hydrate without being distracted by other dogs. You MUST make sure there are enough pet stations scattered around the park if you expect owners to clean up after their mutts.

Park Maintenance

You’ll want to immediately organize a dog park council or group to help maintain and monitor the park. Since most city funds can be scarce, most parks will need volunteer help to stay open. Assign a contact person for the city in case there are issues or other concerns from neighbors or other members of the community. This council will also be responsible for issuing rules for the park, cleaning up after park hours, mowing, fixing fences, disposal of pet waste, etc.

You’ll also be responsible for setting up meetings with your city officials to discuss the success of the park and what may need to be improved.

Planning clean-up parties is a fun way to get many individuals involved to help keep the park clean and safe.

Providing self-serving pet waste stations is a great way to keep maintenance costs down. It puts the responsibility in the park users hands. It is a good idea to place multiple receptacles throughout the dog park. This will ensure that owners will clean up after their pet. Make sure the area has the proper signage to direct users with the rules and expectations of the dog park.

Is there any value?

Most parks take two to three years of planning and resilient efforts before there can be a ribbon cutting ceremony. After reading this, you’re probably asking yourself is it really worth the effort?

THE ANSWER IS “YES!”

Dogs need a lot of exercise and a dog park is the perfect place to let them run and play. It’s also a great place for community members to relax, socialize, and know that your dog is safe and secure. In case you didn’t realize a dog park is the perfect place for you to meet new people and make new friends.

It’s also a chance for community members to learn more about different breeds and how they interact with dogs and humans. Dog parks provide a place for soon-to-be dog owners to better understand what breed is going to be a good fit for them before they get hooked on those ‘puppy dog eyes.’

Once the dog park is open your community will wonder how they ever survived without one! Community members of all ages will appreciate the events that can be organized – doggie birthday parties and puppy play dates!

So go ahead and get started forming a committee today, you and your dog will be happy that you did!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700

Best Practices for Playground Design

The places children are pulled to for play are available in many shapes, forms, and colors. So, what are the key points to creating a great playground design? With so many variables, the design process can sometimes seem a daunting task. For starters, keep these basic guidelines in mind when choosing the play components that will work best:

  • Age groups of those that will be using the playground
  • Size or square footage of the proposed playground area
  • Child capacity you are wanting to accommodate
  • Types of activities preferred

Initial Steps to Designing a Playground:

1. Define your goals: Make a list of 5 questions pertaining to your end goal. Each question you can answer will guide you one step closer to obtaining that goal.
2. Choose your playground surfacing: There are a few different options when it comes to playground surfacing. Each has their own unique benefits, installation costs and long-term maintenance requirements. The most crucial factor is to ensure the depth of your surfacing can protect children from the highest fall height of your playground components.
3. Choose your playground equipment: Finally! The playground equipment is why kids come to play! We suggest choosing pieces that will suit both age groups of 0-5 and 5-12. We also recommend that the equipment be separated by age to ensure the safety of everyone.

5 Best Practices for Playground Design:

1. Include diverse types of play. Children require distinct types of play to understand the world around them and to master common life skills. A good playground will challenge and promote growth. During the design process, consider how you might be able to include as many of these distinct types of play as possible:
> Active Play (Running, Jumping, Climbing, etc.)
> Sensory Play (Sandboxes or Musical Play Panels)
> Creative Play (Drawing, Coloring, Drumming)
> Imaginative Play (Pretend Play)
> Social Play (Tic-Tac-Toe Play Panels)
> Reflective Play (Resting or Thinking)
2. Create a sense of place.  A playground without a sense of place looks generic, like it could be located anywhere in the world. However, when a playground has a powerful sense of place it speaks to the culture and location of the community. Incorporate a sense of community into the project with pretend areas like playhouses or shops. Your goal should be for the playground to become a special place or symbol of your community.
3. Trust children’s creativity.  Adults tend to see a playground structure for just what it is. Slides for sliding, swings for swinging, and monkey bars for climbing. But children are immensely creative. They see the same structure as being a princess castle with a moat, a rocket ship to the moon, or a fort for fending off dragons. Providing them with a space to tap into their creativity is key.
4. Make room for secrets and surprises. Children are more attuned to the smaller sites in the world. Taking them for a walk will tell you this. For most kids, the fun of a playground is found in the tiny details rather than the large elements. Throughout your playground design, include little surprises that can only be found while playing.
5. Consider the “flow.” When in a natural state of play, children do not move in a straight line. Having a playground with a natural flow keeps all components well connected. A good “flow” will give kids different directions to explore and avoid traffic jams.

And most importantly, be sure to include the basics! These can include all or any of the following: shade, drinking fountains, picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles.

Contact us today for more information on budgeting, designing, and installing your new playground equipment!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA |sales@parknpool.com | 877.777.3700