Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Sunshades, vines, and trees can help keep playgrounds cool » Yale Climate Connections

On a sweltering sunny day, many playgrounds become unusable. Swings and slides are scorching to the touch. And there’s nowhere for kids and families to cool off.

But at Kids Together Playground in Cary, North Carolina, children play under tall trees, vine-topped pergolas, and pole-mounted canopies.

Moore: “When you walk into that space from the parking lot, the temperature drops 10 degrees immediately because of the shade.”

Robin Moore is co-founder of the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University. The group researches and designs outdoor play environments.

He says shade is vital for protecting kids from harmful UV rays and keeping them safe and comfortable on very hot days.

Big leafy trees are an ideal solution. But they take time to grow. So Moore says day cares, schools, and parks can take additional steps to create shade faster.

Shade sails can be mounted on poles or buildings. And vines — such as coral honeysuckle or crossvine — can climb up a fence or arbor.

Moore: “And vines grow really fast, … so within a couple of seasons, you’ve got a fully covered large patch of shade.”

So he says there are multiple ways to create shade on a playground, helping kids enjoy fresh air and exercise — even as the climate warms.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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