The Natural Playgrounds Company is 100% focused on the design and creation of Natural Playgrounds and natural play elements for child care centers, schools, and communities.
We combine skills in architectural design, land planning, construction, landscaping, environmental art, child education, and environmental sustainability to bring you cost-effective, innovate, natural environments in which children, young adults, teachers, and parents love to learn, play, and relax.
The Natural Playgrounds Company was founded in 1995 with the design and construction of a small hangout space at an elementary school. Immediately thereafter, Ron was asked to design and build a Natural Playground at a new childcare facility. Dissatisfied with the look and feel of manufactured playgrounds, and the way in which children were playing on them, Ron decided to suggest a different direction for the play environment at this childcare center. That’s when the concept of Natural Playgrounds was born.
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The design side of the business kept growing to the point where Ethan came on board, and soon thereafter we realized that the only way our designs would be accurately and affordably realized was to start a construction arm, so in 2008 we formed the Natural Playgrounds Construction Company.
Very shortly after that, people started asking us where to find natural play elements such as what we were including in our designs, so we built a barn to replace a falling down garage and opened our first shop. Within six months, we outgrew the barn and moved our shop into a 1,250 square foot commercial space, but a year later, we outgrew that space and expanded into a 6,000 square foot facility, and then into a 12,000 square foot space, and then in 2019 into an 18,000 square foot facility. We are constantly designing, prototyping, and field-testing creative, new products. If you think of something you want, let us know! We’ll make it for you!
Though it may seem like a stretch that people would purchase logs and boulders over the Internet, schools, childcare centers, and outdoor play environments are sometimes located in places where natural materials are not available. Here in the Northeast, such materials are abundant. But in the middle of Washington, DC, they aren’t!
All of our natural tree parts, such as logs, tree cookies, sitting stumps, log sluices, and stepping stumps come from tree farms managed for sustainability or from tree surgeons.
We have had an interesting history with boulders. Though we can find and transport them from our part of the country, shipping costs are obviously high, so we were open to alternatives.
One was to call landscape suppliers in other parts of the country, but we found their products to be too varied and unpredictable, usually of the wrong size, and too expensive. Ethan finally discovered that his childhood friend, now on the west coast, was trying to build a business as a rock broker, so we began putting together a network of gravel pits throughout the United States to provide us with smooth, river run boulders needed for safe play, and we now ship them everywhere!
We are a family owned company, with a staff of up to 10 depending on the season.
* As successful as our construction business was, wrestling with different licensing requirements in every state, and with completely different permitting processes in every town within every state was way too time consuming, so we no longer offer actual construction services. However, because we did it for 10 years, and know so much about it, we offer many different construction-related services, such as help with vetting qualified contractors, permit packages, construction drawings, and so on.