How To Shade A Play Area In A Few Easy Steps

Play areas are key elements in any community, and children who play there may need the highest level of protection from sun exposure. When approaching the design of a new or renovated play area, it is important to consider how much sunlight will reach these areas, and how much shade will be needed.
A covered wooden play area.

Research shows that only 3% of playgrounds have full protection from the hottest times of the day (between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm). A further 30% have partial shade leaving 67% of public playgrounds fully exposed to sunlight throughout the day. These figures show a great need for more shading in playgrounds to protect children from harmful UV rays and provide a cooler and more comfortable environment for them to play in.

So, how do you shade a play area? Fortunately, there are many ways to shade a play area, such as using trees, umbrellas, canopies, or sails. Trees are the most effective form of natural shading and can provide up to 100% coverage from the sun. However, they can take many years to grow and may not be an option for smaller playgrounds or those that are already established. Umbrellas, canopies, and sails are all effective ways to shade a play area and can provide between 50-90% coverage from the sun.

This blog post highlights everything you need to know about shading your kids’ play area. Read on to learn more.

Why Should You Add Shade to a Play Area?

There are many benefits of adding shade to a playground. Some of the top reasons you should shade your play area include:

1. Reducing the risk of skin cancer

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. UV rays from the sun are the most common cause of skin cancer and can damage the skin in as little as 15 minutes.

Adding shade to a playground can help protect children from harmful UV rays and reduce their risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

2. Children can play for longer without overheating

The immense heat and brightness from the sun can be troubling, especially when children have been playing for a couple of hours. In most cases, children will want to go back indoors when the sun becomes intolerable.

A shaded plar area.
Most shade structures keep play areas at least 20 degrees cooler for children to continue having fun.

However, adding a shade to your play area allows your little ones to play longer, which is critical to their overall development.

Most shade structures keep play areas at least 20 degrees cooler for children to continue having fun without overheating.

3. Preventing sunburns and heat exhaustion

Sunburns are a common occurrence among children, especially during summer. Unfortunately, they can cause long-term damage to the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. Heat exhaustion is also a concern as it can lead to dehydration, fainting, and other serious health problems.

Both sunburns and heat exhaustion can be prevented by adding shade to a playground. Children can stay cool and protected from the sun’s harmful rays when they play in the shade.

4. Increase the lifespan of your play equipment

In addition to cooling your playground and making children comfortable while playing, shade structures can increase the lifespan of your playground equipment.

A playset under the tree.
By shading your playground equipment, you can help protect it from the sun’s damaging rays.

Direct sunlight can cause plastic and metal to fade and deteriorate over time. By shading your playground equipment, you can help protect it from the sun’s damaging rays and keep it looking new for longer.

5. It helps to create an exciting and innovative look

Playground shades provide a perfect way to upgrade your play spaces. Adding new touches to an existing playground always brings renewed attention to the park making it more exciting.

Installing colorful umbrellas, for instance, can brighten up a playground and make it more inviting for children. You can also use sails to create an innovative look that will encourage children to explore and play.

Types of Shade Structures for Play Areas

There are several ways you can add shade to a playground, each with its own set of benefits. The most common types of shade structures for playgrounds include:

1. Trees

Trees are the most effective way to shade a playground naturally. They can provide up to 100% coverage from the sun and help keep the play area cool. Unfortunately, trees can take many years to grow, which may not be ideal for already established playgrounds.

2. Umbrellas

Umbrellas are a popular choice for shading playgrounds, especially smaller ones. They provide between 50-90% coverage from the sun and can be easily moved around as needed. Umbrellas are also one of the most affordable shade options for playgrounds.

However, before you purchase an umbrella you intend to use for your playground, make sure it’s made with durable materials that can withstand the elements.

Different color of umberllas hanging.
Umbrellas are a popular choice for shading playgrounds, especially smaller ones.

A good material to look for is polyester which is strong, durable, and easy to clean. The downside of umbrellas is that they need to be properly secured to prevent them from blowing away in the wind.

3. Sails

Shade sails are another popular option for playgrounds. They provide between 60-85% coverage from the sun and can be installed in various shapes and sizes. Shade sails are also relatively easy to install and can be removed when needed.

The downside of shade sails is that they need to be properly secured, or they can blow away in the wind. They can also be damaged by severe weather conditions, so choosing a durable material is essential.

4. Playground Canopies

Canopies are an excellent choice for playgrounds that need a lot of shade. They provide between 80-100% coverage from the sun and can be installed in different shapes and sizes. Canopies are also relatively easy to install and can be removed when needed.

However, canopies can be expensive and need to be properly secured, or they can blow away in the wind. They can also be damaged by severe weather conditions, so it’s crucial to choose a durable material.

5. Permanent Structures

Permanent shade structures are a good choice for playgrounds that need a lot of shade. They provide between 75-95% coverage from the sun and can be installed in various shapes and sizes.

Permanent structures are also relatively easy to install and can be removed when needed. However, they can be expensive and need to be properly secured, or they can blow away in the wind.

Kids playground with cover.
Permanent shade structures are a good choice for playgrounds that need a lot of shade.

They can also be damaged by severe weather conditions, so it’s crucial to choose a durable material.

Budgeting for Your Playground Shade

One of the most important things to consider when adding shade to a playground is the cost. Several factors will affect the cost of your shade structure, including the type of material, the size, and the installation process.

The best way to get an accurate estimate for your project is to contact a playground shade contractor. They will be able to assess your playground and provide you with a quote for the work.

However, you need to talk to several contractors to get a good idea of the average cost. You can also check online for ballpark estimates.

Remember that while adding shade to a playground can be expensive, it’s a worthwhile investment. Shade structures provide several benefits that make them well worth the cost.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are a few ways to save money on your playground shade project. One option is to choose a less expensive material such as canvas or polyester.

Another option is to install the shade structure yourself. This can be a challenging project, but it will save you money on labor costs.

Finally, you can also look for used shade structures. This is a great option if you’re on a tight budget, but it’s essential to ensure the structure is in good condition before purchasing it.

Should My Shade Structure Cover the Entire Playground?

The amount of shade you need will depend on several factors, such as the size of the playground, the type of equipment, and the climate.

Generally, you should aim to cover at least 70% of the playground with shade. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to cover more or less depending on the specific needs of your playground.

When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of too much shade rather than too little.

Do I Need to Replace My Playground Shade Every Year?

The lifespan of a playground shade structure will depend on the type of material and the quality of the product. Generally, you can expect a well-made shade structure to last several years.

A playground with shade.
The lifespan of a playground shade structure will depend on the type of material and the quality of the product.

Nonetheless, it’s essential to inspect your shade structure regularly and make repairs as needed. This will help to prolong the life of your shade structure and ensure that it provides adequate protection for the playground.

Summary

Shade structures for playgrounds are a necessity since they play a crucial role in keeping children safe and comfortable while playing. There are many different types of shade structures to choose from, depending on your budget and needs.

These structures should be placed over the entire play area to provide adequate protection. Always go for canopies if you are spoilt for choice and don’t know what to pick.

Playground shade canopies are a great way to protect children from the sun and heat exhaustion, and they last longer than other types of shade structures.

Last update on 2023-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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