a shade sail covering playground equipment and play pits

Preschool Playground Refresh and Reconfigure

Priorities: Stop Gravel Exfoliation – Widen Walkways – Regrade
Challenges: Create Space in Design Within Safety Regulations
Solutions: Analyze Fall Zones – Install Substantial Retention Borders

North Austin’s Violet Crown Preschool needed solutions to several functional problems on its playground. Marginal infrastructure and degraded materials created multiple issues.

Narrow walkways restricted activity in key high-traffic areas. Improper grading led to a considerable flooding hazard in any heavy rain event. Pea gravel was scattering randomly due to rotting landscape timber borders, and dilapidated rubber mats no longer provided cushion.

The school called on Maas Verde to rework the landscape layout, conforming to fall zones for safety licensing and accommodating the new spatial needs. Calculating the required size of these fall zones, Maas Verde found each one could be tightened to create better walkways.

a mini skid steer, pile of gravel, and logs (left) and workers raking gravel (right)

First, Maas Verde pulled out the failing log borders and rubber mats. After removing an unwanted spiral feature in the existing playset, Maas Verde redrew the new, tighter fall zones and set them with cedar log barriers. This created two “islands” around the remaining equipment, and more walkway areas.

a swingset

Gravel went into the swingset and playset pits, and soft, kid-friendly mulch covered the walkways.

From the school building, several rear doors opened onto the same concrete patio. Staff used the area for and lunches and other activities, but the old, expansive pea gravel surface had butted up to it. And when an overhead gutter discharged, water backflowed toward the building.

Now there was room for a concrete walkway. Maas Verde regraded the area, formed and poured the structure, and added two drains that emptied onto a lower spot on the property. Another concrete path led to the exit gate, through a shade arbor.

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