Date of Award


Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

Committee Member

Dr. M. Powers

Committee Member

M. Holland

Committee Member

P. Russell


While thinking of “playing” within a natural area as a child, do mental images of trees, grassy hills, moss, bugs, leaves, sticks, rocks, tall grass, or mud become present? Those images and many more might spark into your imagination, but many children with disabilities are not capable or might fear experiences within the natural environment due to their physical conditions. Some playgrounds/ play spaces are now designed and installed with the use of natural materials, but there is a gap within the literature that shows how to integrate natural materials into barrier free play spaces for disabled children.

This study focuses on how creative wayfinding, play area design, material choice, and natural materials can improve safety and accessibility. These design factors will be thoroughly studied, providing design guidelines that allow disabled children to experience a nature-based play area freely, with limited restrictions, helping to create a profound connection to nature. Fully applying ADA and ABA requirements will allow maximum safety for children, developing a space where the outdoors is the classroom, nature is the teacher, and all children are the students.