Nature play is a great way to connect people with place, and can turn your playspace into a place of connection, discovery and celebration. Nature stimulates the imagination and encourages exploration, adventure and risk-taking — helping children learn new skills such as adaptability, coordination and resilience. Research shows being in nature can lower stress hormone levels, enhance immune system function, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem and improve mood. For many people, access to nature is determined by where they live, their cultural background, socioeconomic factors and ability. By incorporating nature into our playspaces, we can offer everyone in our community the opportunity to experience the joy and benefits that nature provides — regardless of age, ability, background or postcode.
Nature playspaces are predominantly made of natural materials, such as plants, rocks, logs, sand, mulch and water. They are often combined with custom play equipment to provide a variety of experiences for users. Nature play makes playspaces more interesting and distinctive by drawing on the unique characteristics of place.
And nature is free! So incorporating nature into playspaces can help stretch budgets further. Materials last longer and are cheaper to maintain, and using local materials and makers reduces the environmental impact of importing offshore equipment.
The flexibility and creativity of nature play encourages collaborative and social interaction between children and enables intergenerational engagement of parents and carers.
To learn more about incorporating nature play into inclusive playspaces, read the new chapter in our updated guideline. Nature Play Guideline [29MB PDF]