Natural play

Playful landscape elements such as undulating landform, wildflowers, logs, stones and sand have benefits for children’s learning, healthy growth and development.

Copyright Landlife

Natural play is growing in popularity in the UK with some Groundwork Trusts and the Forestry Commission delivering exemplar projects.

Groundwork London’s King George’s Field Playscape in Hanwell is a balanced design approach that encourages children to take appropriate risks to learn their boundaries and valuable lifelong lessons.

Nature play ideas for Forestry Commission sites encourages the use of locally sourced materials and implementation by local crafts people. Many of the ideas in the guide can be applied to urban areas. It is published by the Forestry Commission and supported by CABE Space.

Ideas for natural play

Play logs

Occasionally an old butt from a large broadleaf is rejected at felling due to being rotten or hollow. These can make great play elements left as they are, or hollowed out and shaped by a sculptor.

Play paths

An interestingly designed and constructed path provides a variety of play opportunities for those with the imagination to create their own adventure or game.

Long grass and wildflowers

Grass areas are often mown on a regular basis to provide informal play areas, yet long grass and wild flower planting can also provide habitat and play space.

Plants for play

Well arranged plants can become play houses, hideouts, castles, bases and home camps.


Sculpture and art, whether permanent or temporary, can add an extra dimension to children’s play, particularly if children have been involved in its creation.


Boulders can be used to create a maze, seating, or as stepping stones.