City of Denver shifting toward natural playgrounds

Playground at Pasquinel’s Landing Park should be complete by end of March
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Those old playgrounds in some Denver parks might look a lot different in the coming years when they are replaced as the Parks and Recreation department is focusing on nature play options in its parks moving forward.

Natural playgrounds, made of recycled trees and boulders, have become a popular option over traditional playgrounds with slides, monkey bars and swings, and Denver Parks and Recreation has multiple natural playground projects planned.

“Studies show that when kids go to a traditional playground, they get bored quickly, whereas with nature play done well, kids stay longer and come back more frequently,” said Gordon Robertson, director of park planning for Denver Parks and Recreation.

The first nature playground is under construction at Pasquinel’s Landing Park, 801 W. Evans Ave., and should be complete by the end of March. Two other projects are planned at Westwood Park and First Creek near Green Valley Ranch and Denver International Airport. Both are set to break ground this year.

The projects are designed by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, a Canadian company that has built natural play areas worldwide since the 1980s.

Founder, CEO and principal designer Adam Bienenstock was at Pasquinel’s Landing Park last week, supervising the build of the nature playground, consisting of the wood from trees that came from city parks and one from a neighbor’s front yard. The boulders came from Urban Drainage. The trees are secured into place, just above the ground, and mulch will cover the separation between the ground the and log. This will help preserve the wood for a 15-25-year life span.

“The most important part of this is we just want kids to connect to nature in a way that I remember when I was a kid, but we know is missing from most of their lives now,” Bienenstock said. “It turns out that playgrounds, where their parents will take them, are one of the few places where they can have this experience.”

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