Earthscape is a playground design and build firm based in Elmira Ontario with a location in Toronto. We aim to construct playgrounds that expand children’s imaginations, stimulate all five senses, and focus on passive, imaginative and physical play. Our play spaces are site specific, child focused and consider the specific usage of each play area. We offer diverse playground solutions using various natural materials and recycled elements such as natural stone, wood, water, re-purposed materials and horticulture. Our main focus is on natural elements, high play value and good design.

Playgrounds are intended to provide children of all ages an opportunity to develop motor skills and to challenge their physical conditioning as well as their imagination. Each of our custom play structures are designed to be unique and to promote a high level of exploration, activity, and climbing. By building custom play structures, we are able to provide active play opportunities while creating a setting conducive to narrative play and unstructured creative play.

We provide: Playground Design and Construction, Bespoke Playable Sculptures, Municipal Park Design and Build, Outdoor Learning Spaces, Greening Projects, Sound and Water Features, Community Engagement, Playground Safety


Natural Elements

A key purpose of our playgrounds is to bring children in contact with nature. Children at all levels need more outdoor experiences for the good of their physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. There are many reasons contributing to a decrease in time spent playing outdoors, we want to be a part of changing that.

We understand that a more natural environment is the perfect place to encourage a child’s sense of discovery and learning. By creating natural areas of active and passive play, children are encouraged to interact with nature and discover what’s around them.

Elements Children like in their Play Spaces

  • Plants (including trees, bushes, flowers, vines and grasses)
  • Sand
  • Access to water
  • Landscape diversity and change
  • Topographical features (berms, mounds, steps, slopes)
  • Features to sit in, on, under, or lean against
  • Shelter and shade (trees, shade sails, structures)
  • Places for privacy, as well as places to be seen
  • Hideouts, caves, tunnels
  • Structures
  • Loose parts
  • Movement (swinging, balancing, spinning and climbing)

Visit our Educational section to find some great resources on natural play.


High Play Value

Some of the principal functions of a playground are to provide children with an opportunity to develop motor skills and to challenge their physical conditioning. Our playscapes are designed to incorporate natural and build elements that increase opportunity for a wide variety of play. With this in mind, one of our goals is to create interesting and unique play structures that promote a high level of exploration, activity and climbing. By building playable sculptures, we are able to provide active play opportunities while creating a setting conducive to both narrative play and unstructured creative play.

We want to provide a space where children are stimulated by colours, themes and structures that inspire creativity and fantasy. Likewise, we want to provide graduated physical challenges by building play structures that promote a high level of exploration, activity and climbing. In a playground with graduated challenges, young children are driven and inspired by watching the skills of the older ones, who are in turn driven by advancing their own performance. Play falls into numerous categories including:

  • Active play
  • Passive play
  • Water/sand/mud play
  • Thematic play
  • Musical play
  • Social play
  • Nature play (plants, terrain, and insects)
  • Loose parts play

EDSS v 4.2 LO AW submissiom v1.1

Good Design

At Earthscape, we believe that a playground design should have a child-focused approach, incorporating the 5 senses, and the different types of play for each child to embark upon. Some children enjoy passive, imaginative play, while others love to balance, swing, jump and climb their way around the playground. Through good design, a playground can establish itself as a safe, fun place to learn, play and engage with others on a daily basis.

Successful designs rely heavily on a thorough understanding of the existing site conditions and how they will interact with future playground installations. An inventory and analysis of both the physical characteristics of the space as well as the social context is important. Some of the relevant issues are:

  • Existing topography, including slopes, drainage, water
  • Locations of structures, utilities and site amenities
  • Zoning and building bylaws
  • Vegetation, shade, and microclimate
  • Proximity of residential homes, public open space, civic institutions


All of our playgrounds follow the Canadian playground safety standard CSA- Z614-14. Our concept designs are reviewed by our Canadian Certified Playground Inspector prior to presenting the design to our clients. In addition our design staff are trained to understand best practice techniques of playground construction and to recognize the potential pitfalls of playground design.


We believe in the use of locally sourced renewable materials: Ontario grown and processed Tamarack, and Eastern White Cedar, both of which exhibit natural decay resistance and good dimensional stability. Our logs have a lifespan of over 20 years in contact with ground, and double when suspended from a frame. When possible we use material diverted from waste stream, as well as recycled material: old doors, used tractor tires, recycled rubber products. Likewise, we source and install material diverted from low value uses: Large diameter hardwood tree stumps, and downed trees.

Earthscape is dedicated to providing a high quality product. Each of our playgrounds are custom designed and purpose-built with deliberate material choices.


Landscape and Child Development

by Evergreen and TDSB

What Good Design Can Do For Us

by Helle Nebelong

Shade Guide

by Waterloo Region

Play Naturally

by Play England

Let’s Play: Creating Accessible Play Spaces

by Shira Standfield

Barrier-Free Play

by Earthscape

Sustainable Design

by Hammerhead Stoneworks

The Joys of Appropriate Risk-Taking

by World Forum Foundation

Childcare Today Article

by Earthscape


Playgrounds Around the World  by Playscapes

Approaches to Natural Play Spaces by Helle Nebelong

Maplewood Forest School  by Jen Mason

Natural Play Blog by Jan White

Playground Blog by PlayGroundology


Earthscape Brochure

Contact us for a copy

Earthscape Warranty Document

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Reference List

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Earthscape supports Evergreen initiatives

Earthscape is a member of the International School Grounds Alliance

Earthscape is a member of the Back2Nature Network


LO award logo


Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence 


2015 Commercial Design – Becca Spacegirl Playground

2015 Commercial Design – Orchard Park Playground

2015 Special Interest Construction – Albert Street Playground 

2014 Private Residential Design 2500 to 5000 sq ft

2014 Commercial Design – Elmira District Secondary School

2014 Private Residential Design 2500 to 5000 sq ft – A River Runs Through It

2014 Private Residential Design 2500 to 5000 sq ft

2014 Private Residential Design 5000 sq ft or more – Woodland Retreat

2014 Residential Construction $50,000 to $100,000 – A River Runs Through It

2014 Special Interest Construction – Natural Play and Discovery Environment

2012 Residential Construction $100,000-250,000

2010 Residential Construction – Rooftop Garden

2010 Special Interest Construction

2010 Private Residential Design 2500 – 5000 sq ft

2010 Landscape Lighting Design and Construction

2010 Private Residential Design under 2500 sq ft

2009 Construction – Water Features

2009 Special Interest Construction

2009 Landscape lighting design and Installation

2009 Private Residential Design 5000 sq ft or greater

2009 Perennial Garden Construction

2009 Special Interest Construction – Stone Ruin

2008 Private Residential Design 500 sq ft or more

2005 Special Interest Construction

2005 Residential Construction under $10,000


Outdoor Classroom to Honour Waterloo Boy’s Memory

From The Record

Anyone who knew young Nolan Melchin knew he loved nature, and loved to learn.  Photos of the boy show him happily clutching a fish, or beaming with a snake wrapped around his arms.

So it’s a fitting tribute that his parents, Melanie Shaw and Todd Melchin, are raising funds to build an outdoor classroom at the Laurel Creek Nature Centre in his memory.

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New Playscape at St. Edward

From Toronto District Catholic School Board (TDCSB)

Students, staff and parents were excited to see the official opening of the new playscape at the school. Students had a hand in selecting the preferred design of the structure which will enhance outdoor playing and learning experiences for the children.

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Earthscape’s Playgrounds Set Young Imaginations Free

From The Record

When you think of a playground, what do you imagine? A swing set, a slide, a jungle gym? Now let that imagination roam further. Caves and tunnels. Musical instruments. Hills and water features.

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Earthscape Dino Preserve Highlighted in K-W Record

From The Record

Each one of the display gardens is unique. In addition to being visually appealing, many incorporate practical uses, especially where space is limited and different needs must be provided for, but a dinosaur preserve? I have enough trouble dealing with rabbits, let alone a clomping great brontosaurus.

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A Place to Play

From The Waterloo Chronicle

It was the last day of school in June 2012 and the children at the Albert Street housing complex in Waterloo returned home to find their play space condemned and torn down due to safety reasons.

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Local Landscape Firm Earns Provincial Honours

From The Elmira Independent

Earthscape, a Wallenstein-based landscaping and playground design firm, has earned seven awards at the Landscape of Ontario Awards.

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A playground without the equipment

Press from The Record

CAMBRIDGE — It’s designed to make them think but they’re having too much fun to know it.

And that’s how learning happens, says kindergarten teacher Kendra Kovats.

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Saginaw’s Active Play Space

From Sagninaw Public School

The Saginaw school community added a magnificent active green play space to what once was a very dry and shadeless area on the school grounds. A dedicated group of parent volunteers have been working hard for 2 years to plan, share and create an active space for our students.

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