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Parks and recreational areas

Generally there are a number of different areas of use within parks and recreational areas:

  • Open areas
  • Playgrounds
  • Picnic and BBQ areas.

They are usually in use throughout the year by people of all ages. The heaviest usage will often happen in the middle period of the day when UVR levels are at their peak.

Design considerations

Open areas

  • Plan for partial shade in open areas, especially over grass which needs some sun for growth.
  • Arrange planting in clusters so that groups of people can access shade.
  • Place fixed seating in the shade.


Shade is required throughout the year for children’s play areas and natural shade is generally the most appropriate option.

  • Consider the need for winter warmth and light.

Read more about sun safety in schools and early childhood centres which includes recommendations for play areas.

Fixed play equipment

Safety is a major consideration for shade over fixed play equipment. Consider the following:

  • Shade structures should not have footholds or grip surfaces which would allow for climbing.
  • The roof of the shade structure should have a minimum head clearance of 2 metres above the deck of the play equipment.
  • Tree trunks and/or shade structures should be located a minimum distance of 2 meters away from the most fully extended part of the play equipment, to ensure sufficient free fall zones.
  • Shade structures and designs need to comply with Australian Standard for Playground Equipment and Surfacing AS 4685:2014. Consider:
    • Surfaces
    • Safety and design requirements relating to UVR factors.

Picnic and BBQ areas

  • Provide shade over all picnic tables and BBQ areas, particularly during the peak UVR times.
  • Surfaces should reflect minimal levels of UVR.
  • Consider fire safety when selecting materials for shade canopies and trees for natural shade.
Last updated: 21 April 2016

Technical guidelines

Find specific recommendations for shade planning in all common public facilities in the Technical guidelines for shade provision in public facilities.