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Think of a Playscape as a big, beautiful, natural park with open spaces, trees, rocks hills, and water..where you are free to roam about and enjoy natural surroundings in your own neighborhood as part of daily life.

A Playscape allows children to experience unstructured play in a natural enviornment. In the Miller Ecological Park Playscape there will be a creek to play in, natural boulders and sand, mounds and hills to run on, sensory gardens, log balance beams and steps, and tunnels ..and more.  The Playscape will allow children to experience nature with their family and other children in a safe and secure environment that is accessible to everyone. 

Providing children with the opportunity to connect with nature is an important component of their development. 

A Playscape will also provide educational opportunities for local children to learn about the history of the area and in the environment in which they live.

Miller Ecological Park Playscape and Children's Discovery Gardens

Program Elements

 Parking Lot:        Permeable pavement is a paved surface that is porous and therefore allows storm water to percolate into the ground instead of going directly into our streams.  The parking lot at Miller Ecological Park is constructed of permeable pavers that accomplish just that.  When it rains, the water filters down through the pavers and into a gravel sub base layer.  Once it enters the gravel layer, it slowly flows through the gravel into the adjacent rain garden.  As it moves through the permeable pavers and gravel sub base, pollutants such as oil and sediments are filtered out.  By slowing down and reducing the amount of storm water runoff entering Will’s Run, we are reducing the likelihood of flooding and erosion while helping the recharge of the groundwater below us.

Raingarden: A rain garden is a shallow, constructed depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses.  It is designed to receive the storm water runoff from the adjacent parking area and slow down the rush of water from these surfaces.  The Miller Ecological Park rain garden consists of over 10  native plants and grasses.  This beautiful rain garden further filters pollutants out of the water before it enters Will’s Run, and allows the water to infiltrate into the ground.  By constructing this rain garden, we are doing our part to reduce pollution and preserve our water systems while at the same time creating habitat for birds and beneficial insects.

 Serpent Play Mound: The Serpent Play Mounds are mounds that range from 2.5’ – 4’ tall. They are designed in a shape of a serpent. The children can run up and down and in-between the hills, roll down them, and play king of the mountain. They are intended to be short hills for children to be able to see over the hills to the rest of the playscape. The play mounds have turf grass on them for easy play.

Art Display Area: The Art Display Area is intended to be an area to display art.

Balance Beam: The Balance Beam would consist of natural materials such as a log to balance on or a steel post held in place on either end with a tree stump. The balance beam area would have rocks around it delineating the area from the adjacent meadow.

Seating Area: The Seating Area is located next to the raingarden for educational purposes. Perhaps a class would meet here to discuss the raingarden and permeable pavement. The seating area would consist of boulders to sit on located in a circular pattern.

Sensory Gardens: The Sensory Gardens would consist of mulched and irrigated landscape areas that would consist of plantings that involve the senses. Plantings would consist of flowering, evergreen, and deciduous shrubs and perennials. Beautiful plantings with different colored blooms, textures and fragrance would be introduced. Also included would be a children’s water pump such that children could pump the water into a bucket and water the plantings. The sensory garden area would also include an arbor, climbing with fragrant flowering vines, and a seating area to view the garden.

Flower Picking Garden: The flower picking garden is mainly a planting area for perennials, whereby, it would be encouraged for children to pick the pretty flowers.

Labyrinth:  The labyrinth would consist of a trail leading thru plantings to get to the center. There is one way in and one way out.

 Amphitheater: The amphitheater would consist of a seating area with a stage for performances. The amphitheater would be made out of concrete or stone.

 Creek: The creek would consist of a 200’ length creek with shallow water. The water depth would be about 2”-3” and would run on a re-circulating pump.  The creek is designed to encourage children to play in the creek. Logs and stones would be strategically placed to encourage children to cross the creek. The trail would undulate close to the creek for play and further away to create a natural aesthetic with the meadow next to the creek.

Sand Obstacle Course: The sand obstacle course is comprised of a large play sand area. Children can play in the sand. The sand is located next to the water such that the children can get the sand wet to make a castle. The obstacle course is also located in the sand area. The obstacle course consists of logs and stones for children to climb on as an obstacle course. The obstacle course extends up into the tee pee meadow mound area.

 Tunnel under Mound: The tunnel would be a 4’ wide tunnel located underneath a meadow mound. The tunnel is large enough such that an adult could get into the tunnel. The tunnel goes in and out of the mound. A meadow would be planted on top of the mound to discourage children from playing on top of this mound.

 Climbing Wall:   A climbing wall would be located at the same mound as the tunnel. Meadow plantings would be planted on top to discourage children from playing on top of this mound. There would also be a natural planted barrier at the top of the climbing wall to aid in safety. The climbing wall would be about 6’ tall at the highest point. A soft safety surface would also be introduced at the bottom of the wall for safety. At the top of the wall would be a 4’ landing spot.

Proposed Wooded Area:  The proposed wooded area would be comprised of shade trees that would create an overhead tree canopy. These trees would provide an area to play that would resemble playing in the woods. Several play areas would be carved into the wooded area for play. A log fort which would consist of tree limbs and twigs where children can help build a fort, a sand area where children can play with sand, an earth area where children can play with dirt, and a stick building area where children can play with sticks to build things.  There would be a little pathway that would connect each building area through ‘the woods’.

 Tee Pee Meadow Mound: The tee pee mound would be a mound planted with meadow plantings that have a couple of tee pees. These tee pees would be fun to play in and around. There is also a rock pathway of boulders that would lead children up and down the mound to the tee pees.

Play Mounds and Sledding Hill: The aesthetic play mounds and sledding hill are meant to be play hills for children to run up and down, roll down, play king of the mountain, and go sledding on in the winter time.

 Thinking Tree: The thinking tree is a large deciduous shade tree that is by itself in the grass. It is meant to be a large tree for a child to go sit under and read a book or write in a journal.

 Sunflower Maze: The sunflower maze consists of a sunflower patch with walkways for children to walk thru.

 Lawn Area: The lawn areas on the playscape are meant for children to throw a Frisbee, play ball, have a picnic, and run around.

 Community Gardens: The community gardens would be space for the community to have personal vegetable and flower gardens.

 Labyrinth Mound: The labyrinth mound is a mound with a meadow with a spiral trail to the top. This mound would be about 5’ in height and be a ‘lookout point’ for the entire project.