Tips for Buying “Green” With Your Government Credit Card

With your government credit card in hand, you have the opportunity to help the environment while buying products that meet your facility’s needs.

Federal agencies are being encouraged to buy products that are made with recycled content, have less packaging, are energy efficient, don’t create hazardous waste, and incorporate other environmentally preferred characteristics.

Buying Products with Recycled Content:

Recycled content products contain “recovered materials” or “post-consumer materials” or both. “Recovered materials” means materials that have been removed or diverted from solid waste – in other words, trash – including solid waste created by manufacturers. “Post-consumer materials” are materials that we discard at home and at work that are separated or diverted for recycling instead of going to a landfill. Whatever your job, you will most likely be asked to purchase products from recycled materials. Employees in facilities and maintenance may be asked to purchase park benches and picnic tables. Both of these products can be made with recycled content.

Buying Products with Reduced Packaging:

Packaging is a significant solid waste problem. Approximately 23.7% of the volume and 19.4% of the weight in materials found in city landfills is attributed to just packaging alone. The amount of trash we generate can be reduced simply by buying products with reduced packaging. Consider buying a larger quantity in a single box rather than smaller quantities in multiple boxes.

There will be many situations where you will need to buy products containing hazardous materials but by avoiding them when possible, we can work together to reduce the amount of unnecessary waste in landfills and support the manufacturing of products using recycled materials.

Give us a call at 877.777.3700 for a list of ParknPool’s products that contain recycled content.

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | | 877.777.3700

Site Furnishings to Compliment your Style

There are multiple resources for finding the right site furnishings for your public space, let ParknPool be one of them for you!

In areas where municipal officials or hired contractors are charged with maintaining and developing spaces such as parks and public gardens, they not only need to offer attractive site furnishings but also keep an eye on the budget assigned. How the space is furnished can often be the key element leading to financial stability and community satisfaction.

Site amenities should be based on comfort and user friendliness, choosing one piece over another depends on the overall style and design of the space. For example, in some areas movable tables and chairs are more suitable than permanent mounted site amenities. Also, an attractive color can enliven a space and attract people to use it but comfort is an important factor in purchasing a park bench or picnic table.


Choosing materials should be based on the application with durability maintenance and product life at top of mind. Common durable materials include steel, aluminum, concrete, recycled plastic, or wood. There are also plastic coated options that provide the added benefit of color to park benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles and playgrounds.


Observing how people use amenities will help in selecting the right kind for your particular area. For example, keep in mind that two-seat benches where there may be only one person sitting at each bench creates a waste of seating. There are also special considerations depending on the environment, such as:

  • Urban Areas – Urban furnishings need to stand up to vandalism.
  • Freezing Areas – Snow load capacity needs to be considered. Drinking fountains need to be shut down.
  • Coastal Areas – Saltwater can affect certain materials.

Themes and Designs:

Certain companies (hint, hint: ParknPool) work very well with their clients to provide them with site amenities and furnishings with a personal touch. Manufacturers can offer custom plaques, add special designs into steel, and provide custom labels for added messaging. Common requests include radius benches to fit specific areas, wall-mounted benches or even benches with a more unique design.


Maintenance is essential in all public areas. Choosing furniture and amenities that are easy to clean and store will help your maintenance crew. Products that are low maintenance can be a better deal than some of their more expensive counterparts, it all depends on how much time and resources you can devote to the upkeep.


As in all other public areas, accessibility also needs to be considered in outdoor areas as well. Keep in mind that the ADA recommends measurements for space under tables for wheelchair accessibility but there are no official guidelines for benches. Certain considerations can also be made to accommodate for older or disabled individuals such as height of the armrests and the placing of any seating areas (preferably near walkways and paths).

In the end, when furnishing a park or recreational area, it’s important to provide plenty of places for people to picnic, enjoy the views, rest their feet and throw away their trash!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | | 877.777.3700

Designing a Camping or Picnic Area

Common recreation site furnishings found in a camping or picnic area include picnic tables, fire rings and grills.

The best of these furnishings require little-to-no maintenance, have a long lifespan, are easy to clean, and are difficult for vandals to damage. These furnishings also must be convenient, easy to use and safe. It is best to avoid items with protruding objects or sharp corners that could injure users.

Picnic Tables: While many travelers and campers bring their own grill or stove, few actually carry a picnic table. Because of this, it is a good idea to provide picnic tables in campgrounds and on trails where day use is encouraged. Tables are available commercially in wood, metal, concrete, recycled plastic and plastic coated expanded metal. Select table material based on your area’s level of development, climate and amount of vandalism expected.

Grills and Fire Rings: Fire rings are essential at camp sites because they reduce fire hazards and make maintenance easier. Since, in most areas, evening use is not encouraged at picnic arears, fire rings are generally not necessary there. Fire rings with a hinged base so the cooking grate can be tilted back to clean out the ashes are the most preferred type. In addition, many accessible fire rings have an expanded metal barrier around the perimeter to keep campers from leaning against the hot surface. Grills are needed in campgrounds and may be installed at day-use trails. Pedestal styles are designed at a level comfortable for most users, and are also the most common. The best models have a cooking grate that is hinged and can be raised and lowered. Some models include lids to reduce cooking time and to keep food warm. Rotating grills and shelves for utensils are also available.

The most common campsite is the single-party camp site, other options include double-party camp sites, several-party camp sites and group camps. For more information on designing a campsite or picnic area call ParknPool at 877.777.3700 to speak with one of our sales managers.

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | | 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 | | 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 | | 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 | | 877.777.3700

The Importance of Site Amenities for Your Park

What are site amenities?

Site amenities are all the additional features that add value and benefits to your park by enhancing visitors’ enjoyment and providing them with comfort. These site amenities are essential for any park or recreational space.

The following are just a few of the best options when it comes to choosing what your park needs:


Sprinkling benches throughout your park provides patrons with a place to sit during a break from their pickup game of dodgeball, to simply do some birdwatching or to keep an eye on their children enjoying the playground.

Trash Receptacles

If there was a site amenity that is a must, it would be this one! No one wants to visit a park or recreational space that looks like a landfill. Trash receptacles should be available for visitors to dispose of their gum wrappers, soda bottles and lunch break trash.

Bike Racks

Depending on where your park is located, you may see a lot of bicycle traffic. These visitors will need somewhere to park their mode of transportation while they play. If a suitable rack is not provided, they may choose to lay their bike down or tether them to something unsafe. Choose bike racks that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing to your space.

Picnic Tables

This site amenity can be added to your park or recreational space by placing them throughout or by creating a general space with picnic tables, a couple of park grills and a shade structure for visitors to escape sudden inclement weather.

What if your park had no site amenities?

Let us take a moment to imagine your park without any site amenities. In the beginning, you might get away with it but after a while…

…the trash starts to accumulate attracting animals and bugs…
…bicycles are being reported as stolen…
…and playgrounds become deserted…

You have just created a space that no one can enjoy! Don’t do that! Give us a call today!

ParknPool | Lexington, VA | | 877.777.3700