Designing a Green Space 101: With Crosby Hanna & Associates

Designing a Green Space 101: With Crosby Hanna & Associates

Planning a Recreational Project

We know that design can be the most difficult part of your recreational project. Making sure everything will fit but will also provide the entertaining, creative, and imaginative play that makes the playgrounds the best they can be. To try and make this easier, we spoke with Michelle Tustin, an associate landscape architect with Crosby Hanna and Associates in Saskatoon. She has the expertise on the subject, as she has completed playground projects such as John Dolan School and Wanuskewin Interpretive Playground. We asked specifically about getting started on designs, creating something for limited spaces, and utilizing the area around the play area.

Beginning Steps to Designing a Play Space

Tustin has this to say on beginning your designs, “The fun way to begin a playground design is to be inspired! Think about an overall concept, goal, or theme. Scroll through inspirational completed playground projects (whether local or elsewhere) and visualize how ideas might fit within your space. An important part of starting a playground design is to do your research. Follow up on playground trends and research findings completed by manufacturers and designers. Ideas on inclusive play, nature play, child development, and play safety are just a few areas of research that help towards making a playground design successful and informed.” You can check out some of our previous designs on our playgrounds page, which can give you an idea of the designs we have put together previously! Are you still struggling to get started? Get in contact with us! Our design team can walk you through the process.

Small Spaces Design

Another design restraint that we see pop up often is small spaces. With our Saskatchewan population ever increasing, the need for playgrounds and recreational areas within cities is rising. This leads to problems with square footage available to many inner-city communities. Because of this, many communities lose out on the elements that they want or even a recreational space all together. Tustin suggests, “small play spaces can provide an exciting challenge that informs a design that is just as, if not more, successful than a larger space. Tall towers for instance can be exhilarating and provide vantage points smaller equipment cannot. If a tower is out of budget, look for hybrid pieces of play equipment that have versatile use to maximize play value. Also, look at adjacent playgrounds and determine what types of play equipment already exist, so to limit over-abundance of play types and commit to diversifying play options.” We’ve discussed small space play areas before on our blog, so if you’re needing more inspiration, please see this post! 

Revitalizing and Utilizing the Surrounding Areas

Lastly, we spoke to Tustin about the area around the play space. This is not an area to be neglected! “In some ways, the surrounding area of a playground is just as important as the playground itself and should be treated as an extension of the space. A playground should include pathways to allow visitor access, with areas for car and bike parking, and appropriate surfacing and ramps for accessible users.  Areas of turf can become flexible spaces for many different games or picnic areas. Seating areas can provide social and comfortable area for caregivers and families and can be used as flexible learning spaces as well. Planting and/or gardens can frame usable areas, and provide learning opportunities for native plants, pollinators, and growing food. If trees aren’t already planted, think about the placement of the playground in an area that provides the best thermal comfort for all seasons. Cold winter winds, hot play surfacing or direct sun can often be unbearable, so trees planted for both winter shelter and summer shade are important in making sure play spaces are usable for those visiting”.


For more information on Crosby Hanna and Associates’ landscape architecture, please visit their website here. A special thank you to Michelle Tustin, associate landscape artist with Crosby Hanna & Associates!