Natural Playground, Play Garden and Playground Design Experience

Our extensive experience of designing natural playgrounds, play gardens and outdoor children's play and learning environments that are developmentally appropriate includes:


Jewish Community Center of Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Developed a new design program, cost estimates, full construction and bid documents and equipment specifications for complete renovation of three older playground areas to become naturalized playgrounds and provided construction monitoring and maintenance handbook. Each naturalized playground is over 12,000 SF and serves different programs at the Jewish Community Center. Two of the naturalized playgrounds serve the Center’s early childhood education programs for toddlers to five-year-olds and the other naturalized playground serves the school-age summer camp program.

The two new early childhood education naturalized playgrounds.

Global Montessori School
Kansas City, Missouri

Provided consultation to staff and parents on the renovation design of a natural playground that could be a model Montessori training site. As both a Certified Montessori School and Intern Training Center through Montessori Education Program International, this facility provides Montessori interns a place to work with Master Teachers and fulfill training requirements.

BellaBoo’s Children’s Garden
Crown Point, IN

Created schematic designs for a large natural playground at a children’s play and discovery center for several hundred children. The natural playground events include pretend fishing, campfire cooking, a pretend village, log cabin building, a construction zone, a boulder climbing area, musical instruments and a separate infant/toddler garden.

Rock Brook School
Skillman, NJ

Provided consultation on the outdoor play spaces for a school that serves children 5-14 with various disabilities.

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects
Chicago, IL
Provided schematic designs, cost estimations and equipment specifications for two outdoor spaces to be built at a hospital-based child development center in Chicago.  The infant/toddler play areas include sensory play, gross motor/scooting area, sensory tables, water spraygrounds, art play, large bermed double slide and a peek-a-boo maze.  The preschool and school age play yards include art areas, climbing rocks, a garden seesaw, larger water tables, construction play, musical instruments and flex space arbor.  The preschool/school age garden is located within a parking structure.

First Lutheran Early Education Center
Torrance, CA

Provided on-site consultation, interviews and surveys to early education staff and parents about possible renovation of their outdoor space into a more natural play garden.  An improvement plan was created for the exiting playgrounds

Growing Green Child Development Center
Kenosha, WI

Provided construction documents and cost estimation for the design of a natural playground at a new sustainable child care center. The natural playground will serve children 2-12 and includes a dinosaur dig, climbing rock, musical instruments, art areas, bush maze, a recirculating waterless pond, a custom pretend market and a drive-thru tryke tunnel.

Blue Springs School District, Special Services Building
Blue Springs, MO

Natural-playground-designCreated design development documents for an outdoor environment for children with special needs from ages 3-21 years. The gardens were separated into space for the preschool children and space for the multiplied disabled, ages 5-21 years.  The preschool garden included adaptations for the visually impaired and adaptations for those who use walkers and wheelchairs.  Preschool events included an adapted preschool climbing structure, ADA accessible picnic tables, ADA accessible art easels, ADA accessible sand play, elevated gardening beds and naturalized areas for exploration.  The garden for the older children included a walk around ADA accessible garden path, a recirculating stream, accessible art easels and a specialized hammock for vestibular stimulation.  Extensive interviews were conducted with teachers, therapists and specialists to create these unique spaces for children with diverse and specialized needs.

Fun Time Early Learning Academy
Naples, FL

Created construction documents and cost estimations for three gardens for a new early care and Head Start education center.  The spaces include an infant garden, a toddler garden and a rooftop garden for children ages 3-5 years.  The rooftop garden was created to provide a green space for the older children on a limited site.  The rooftop garden included cantilevered shade, musical instruments, an art area, a basketball court, a riding path with drive through tryke tunnel, a small climbing structure and plant materials for shade and sensory stimulation.

Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts
Chicago, IL

Provided on-site technical assistance to this private school to renovate existing outdoor play spaces into a more naturalized site. The site was challenging, as it is in a very urban area, quite small and serves children from ages 3-14 years. Work included getting feedback from children, staff and parents for the redesign of the environment.

Ventura College Child Development Center
Ventura, CA

Provided design development documents and cost estimations to the Kinko's Child Development Center at Ventura College for the renovation of four outdoor environments. The naturalized spaces include sand play, gardening, musical instruments, re-circulating stream, a pirate climber, animal homes, small orchard, dramatic play gazebo, art studio, bush maze, a drive through storage shed, quiet areas and a dramatic play house. Extensive input was obtained over a period of time from teachers, staff and parents of the center.  The yards are used by all children ages 2-6 that rotate through each yard.


Easter Seals Child Care Center
Phoenix, AZ

preschool-natural-playgroundProvided cost estimate and schematic designs for two outdoor naturalized playgrounds inside a parking garage located in heart of downtown Phoenix. The preschool natural playground includes a running maze, hiding bush, children's gardening, art area, riding track in a bamboo forest, sand lay and a play structure. The toddler playground area included a running berm, water tables, riding corral and art area. There will also be an outdoor dramatic play area, a construction area and a zero-depth water playground area.

Frito Lay Montessori School
Plano, TX

Developed schematic design for six natural playgrounds for a large Montessori school that serves children infancy through school age. Different events in the natural playground designs include basketball, open field for games, bush maze, musical instruments, art play, large riding track with drive through shed, re-circulating streams, flex space, spray grounds, an amphitheater and separate play areas for infants and toddlers.

Oak Park Preschool
Massillon, OH

Provided renovation designs for two small outdoor naturalized playgrounds for preschool/school-age children and infants/toddlers.  We saved on equipment costs by recycling older playground structures into newer, safer events.


Belvedere Plantation
Petersburg, VA

Developed a preliminary plan for a large children’s play and discovery farm.  Events included barn climber, log house building, pretend camper, pretend fishing, rock climbing, a dinosaur dig and a separate infant/toddler play garden.

First Steps
Spartanburg, SC

Provided on-site visits and technical assistance on the outdoor environment to early care and education centers that are going through NAEYC accreditation and the Early Head Start center sites.  Included doing a safety evaluation of the outdoor environment and creating an Outdoor Environment Improvement Plan that could be followed up with the First Steps staff.

Newton Medical Center Child Care Center
Newton, KS

Provided full construction documents for a master plan for the creation of three new play gardens for children ages infancy through age six at this hospital-based child care center. This master plan was phased in over a three-year period as the budget allowed.

Children's Developmental Institute
Chicago, IL

Provided schematic designs for the renovation of two existing playgrounds into natural playgrounds and the creation of a new natural playground for infants and toddlers. The natural playground design plans will allow for better age groupings of children into a more naturalized urban setting. Provided technical assistance on the use of portable outdoor equipment.

YMCA Child Development Center
Kansas City, MO

Provided construction documents, cost estimation landscape specifications and equipment selection for the construction of a play garden at a new child development facility.

Islamic School of Kansas City, MO

Provided technical assistance on renovation of both preschool and school age playgrounds.

Otero Junior College, Early Head Start
La Junta, CO

Prepared schematic plans and cost estimation for renovation of an outdoor area into a play garden for infants and toddlers. Since parents attend the program with their children, special attention was given to making the play garden look residential in nature and to creating areas for the parents to interact with their children.

Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

Provided technical assistance on the renovation of an outdoor playground into a play garden for children infancy through age five that meets new ADA guidelines. This facility is the lab school for Wayne State University.

Child Development Laboratory, Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL

children-natural-playgroundProvided technical assistance on the renovation of a very large outdoor playground into a natural playground. This facility is the lab school for the Child Development Program at Southern Illinois University. Issues and challenges included a steep slope and how to divide the space between the older and younger children.

Johnny’s Toys Play Garden
Covington, KY

Provided schematic design documents to
an outdoor play area attached to a local children’s toy store.  We also designed a play area inside the toy store.  The outdoor play areas included boulder climbing, a dinosaur dig, performance area, climbing structures, a pedal go-kart track, a track ride and a fire engine.

Johnson’s Corner Farm
Medford, NJ

Provided schematic design documents for the construction of a children’s play and discovery farm.

Child Care Association of Wichita
Wichita, KS

Evaluated outdoor portion of building for renovation as outdoor play space and evaluated existing Head Start playground for renovation as naturalized play environment.

De La Salle Infant Center
Kansas City, Missouri

Designed naturalized infant/toddler play garden.

Family and Community Services Head Start
Alton, Illinois

Provided technical assistance on the renovation of three Early Head Start outdoor infant/toddler play spaces into naturalized discovery play gardens.

infant-playgroundOlathe Public Schools
Olathe, Kansas

Provided schematic master design plans, cost estimations, landscape specifications and equipment selection for the renovation of a large shared outdoor play area serving infants through preschool. Work included doing interviews with special education teachers and therapists on how to better adapt the equipment and layout for children with disabilities.



Early Childhood Center
Overland Park, Kansas

Trained county and city park employees on the value of nature-based play for preschool and primary age children.

Center for Children's Services
Danville, Illinois

Designed schematic plans, provide cost estimation and coordinated custom equipment design for the renovation of an outdoor naturalized play space for infants, toddlers and two year olds.

Harvey, IL School District
Pre-K Program

Provided master schematic design plans, detailed budget and landscape specifications for construction of a play garden. Included doing four group interviews with parents and teachers.

Marine Naval Air Station
Brunswick, Maine

Provided consultation and schematic design documents for a children's project for the military that included an outdoor area with two playgrounds, a children's water park and an indoor play facility. The indoor play facility included play events such as construction play, an art studio and a pretend house with dress up.

Family Leisure & Discovery Park
Badajoz, Spain

Focus group research was conducted in the summer of 1999 for the opening of a new children and family leisure project in Badajoz, Spain, which is on the Portuguese border. This 18-acre park will include a children's indoor play facility, a large petting zoo, a children's water park, and an outdoor play garden for children. The park will be used extensively to teach local school and day cave children about the animals, pIants and products of this region of Spain.

Brown's Berry Patch
New York State

Provided schematic design documents for a children's outdoor play area that will be called "Brown's Children's Adventure Barnyard".

Illinois State Board of Education / Illinois Resource Center

Provided training for the pre-kindergarten teachers in Illinois on the design of naturalized outdoor play spaces and how to use nature and gardening as the play element outdoors.

Leawood Park South
Leawood, Kansas

Consultant on master plan for new park to include children's nature education center.

Lion Country Safari
West Palm Beach, Florida

Designed an African themed children's adventure play garden for children ages infancy through ten years that will hold 400 children plus their parents at one time. The play garden is zoned into eight different play areas and organized around a central circular path. Unusual features include a water play area with interactive water troughs, a pond with stepping stones, pretend fishing and a randomly squirting interactive fountain; an interactive art-based play fence, an interactive African musical instrument area and a dinosaur dig with a real jeep and tree house structure.

San Jose, California

Provided construction drawings for a 3,500 s.f. outdoor adventure play garden built in 1997 that included a dinosaur dig, pond, secret hiding spaces, a sensory garden, and sand play area for toddlers and preschoolers.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Vail, Arizona

Provided consultation and planning design for expansion of this 5,000 acre park as a nature- and historical-based outdoor, interactive learning environment to educate children and their families about preservation of the Arizona ecosystem and environmentally responsible ranching.

Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center Early Childhood Center
Denver, CO

Provided on-site consultation to a model Jewish early education center that is part of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI).  Topics of consultation included renovating outdoor play spaces and how to involve the staff, parents and greatercommunity center in the master planning process.

Davis' Farmland
Sterling, Massachusetts

In 1994, WHLLG performed a feasibility study including guest surveys and strategic development recommendations for relocation and expansion of the facility as a children's discovery farm.  Each year WHLLG has assisted the client with design and operation consulting. In 2000, WHLLG conducted a feasibility study for a major expansion of the facility with a children's zero-depth water playground and indoor enrichment center and created the construction design documents for the sprayground.

Burrows Family Homestead
Little Falls, NY

Provided design documents for a family play garden that includes a re-circulating stream, climbing poles, hiding bushes, a maze, jumping rocks, a tepee, log house building, a musical turtle and a custom made log play house with a loft, electricity, furniture and operable windows.

Center for Early Childhood Leadership
Wheeling, IL

Conducted a Children's Environmental Design Institute and a two-day Outdoor Design Institute for Head Start and Child Care Directors.

Child Care Connections CCR&R
Peoria, IL

Conducted a two-day training program for Illinois Directors and teachers on renovation and the use of outdoor space.

Delaware Tribe Child Development Center
Bartlesville, OK

Provided consultation to the child care center on the creation of an outdoor play garden for children.

Gertrude Nielsen Child Care and Learning Center
Northbrook, IL

Provided consultation to the infant teachers and held a design charette for the renovation of the infant yard into a play garden.

Spartanburg Regional Health Care System Child Development Center
Spartanburg, SC

Provided schematic design documents, cost estimation and master planning for the renovation of an infant play garden, a toddler play garden and pre-school/school-age play garden.


Operation Breakthrough
Kansas City, MO

Prepared construction documents and coordinated drawings with the project architect for the creation of an outdoor play space for an urban renewal child care facility. The center will include three rooftop gardens for different age groups and a play garden for infants and toddlers. Unique features of this project include outdoor musical instruments, art play, dramatic play house, a drive-thru tryke shed, water tables and custom climbing structures.

Security Benefit Group
Topeka, KS

Provided technical assistance and schematic design documents for the construction of three new play gardens at this employer's newly renovated child care center. Work included focus group research with teachers and parents to gather their input and ideas.

Creative Beginnings
Las Vegas, NV

Prepared schematic design documents for a large child care facility for the expansion and renovation of their outdoor areas into play gardens. Plans included an expanded area for school-age children and pre-school children, a new infant area, a new toddler area and a large water sprayground. Plants for the garden were challenging in a desert climate.

Sutter Lakeside Early Head Start
Lakeport, CA

Prepared schematic design documents and cost estimation for an infant and toddler garden in this high sierra desert. The facility was a renovated bank building and we reclaimed the parking lot for the play garden.

children-discovery-playgroundParadise Park
Lee's Summit, MO

Provided construction documents and cost estimation for a new play and discovery garden for children ages 6 weeks to 8 years. The garden includes an outdoor performance area, a dinosaur dig, a peddle go kart track, climbing nets, birthday party rooms, pretend fishing, campfire cooking, a custom tree house, a large climbing net and a separate infant/toddler garden area.

Silver Lake Drop-In Child Care Center
Ft. Mitchell, KY

Provided schematic design documents for a new outdoor play space for children ages 2-6 at a drop in child care facility.

Child Development Center at Queen's College
Flushing, NY

Provided schematic design documents and cost estimation for the renovation of a play yard for children ages 2-10. Activities include gardening, a riding path, picnic area, water table, art easels, a custom climbing structure and a school-age area for socializing and playing musical instruments.

Roper Early Learning Center, Roper St. Francis Health Care
Charleston, SC

Evaluated the outdoor play environments for a renovation project.

Stone Fire Pizza Company
Kenosha, WI

Provided schematic design drawings and cost estimation for a children’s naturalized discovery play garden located to be located in this family dining and entertainment establishment.  The play garden will include a pretend general store, a pretend pizza restaurant, a dramatic playhouse, musical climbing instruments, a dinosaur dig, and large sand pit.