Build it and they will come – a guide to Splash Pads

You may have heard the term “splash pad” before and you might have even had the opportunity to experience a splash pad in a public park or holiday venue, but have you ever thought about the possibility of having your own splash pad? In this article we discuss some of the key points and considerations when designing and building a splash pad.

First things first, the splash pad will require a mains water, electrical power and drainage connection. The size of these will depend on the size of the splash pad and the operating equipment and play items. The mains water connection should provide water at the highest flow rate possible to ensure that the water tanks can be filled and replenished quickly.

The next thing to think about is where you would like to build your splash pad. In some cases, the position of the splash pad may well be determined by the availability and location of the mains services. There are three main parts to any splash pad which are the play area, the plant room and the water tanks. They all need to be reasonably close to each other and each has their own considerations.

For the play surface (which is the place that all of the water jets will be), a flat and level piece of ground is ideal and for ease of construction it is a good idea to choose a soft area such as grass. It is possible to build a splash pad on a hard surface, however, this may increase the cost and difficulty of the building works.

Typically, an excavation of approx. 300-500mm is required over the total area of the splash pad play surface to accommodate the foundations of the play items and the water feed and drain pipes.

One option which is quite popular is to convert an old paddling pool to a splash pad. With this option it is sometimes possible to retain and reuse certain aspects of the structure to accommodate the new splash pad equipment. In particular, the paddling pool basin can form the excavation for the play item foundations and water and drain pipes.

To correctly contain and channel the water displayed on the splash pad, the play area will need to be constructed so that the area slopes towards the splash pad drains. The play surface can be finished in several types of decorative surface. In a domestic situation, it may be possible to use non-slip paving stones, however, in commercial settings such as parks rubber safety surfacing is generally used.

The plant room houses all of the operating equipment such as pumps and controls; it should be as close as is practically possible to the play area. Whilst it is possible to position the plant room further from the play area, this normally means that larger pumps and pipes will be required to move water at the required volumes and flow rates. On the subject of plant rooms, a suitable enclosure will be required to house the equipment. For smaller splash pads a simple garden shed or garage could be used; for larger installations it may be necessary to use a container or sectional steel building to achieve the required size.

The water tank will hold the volume of water required for the operation of the splash pad. Generally speaking, the water tanks will need to be close to the plant room to allow the connection of the water pumps. Water tanks can be either above ground or below ground and the type, size and installation will depend on the type of operating system and the amount of play items. The capacity of these tanks can vary between 1,000 and 10,000 litres. In the case of below ground tanks, consideration will need to be given to the fall of drain pipes from the play area and to the mains drain to ensure that water is able to flow by gravity.

There are two main operating systems that are normally used on a splash pad: A fresh water single use system and a recycled water system. The water usage in a fresh water system is generally higher, whilst with the recycled system the water used is less, however, there is an on-going chemical cost and higher maintenance cost involved.

With a fresh water single use system mains water is held in a reservoir tank. The water is displayed on the splash pad and flows to a collection drain. The water can either flow directly to the mains sewerage system, be captured in a tank for secondary usage such as drip irrigation or flow to a lake or pond.

In a recycled water system, water is held in a reservoir tank. The water is displayed on the splash pad and flows to a collection drain. The water then flows back to the reservoir tank where it is filtered and chemically treated ready for re-use on the splash pad. In this type of system it is best practice to aim for water quality similar to that found in swimming pool water to ensure safety of all users.

When it comes to the play area, play items generally fall into two main categories: Flush Mount and Above Ground. Flush Mount features are installed in the surface of the splash pad and finish “flush” (level) with the finished play surface. They do not interfere with the surrounding play surface and this means that the area can be used for a secondary purpose as well. Above Ground play items are structures which stand within the play surface. They spray water from a number of directions and provide a strong focal point on the splash pad. Above Ground Features can be removed and stored during winter and are also interchangeable with other play items in the same range.


The size of the play area can vary greatly between different splash pads. At Splash Pads Ltd, we offer three different splash pad packages: The Penguin Splash Pad is ideally suited to small areas between approx. 9 and 25m; The Dolphin Splash Pad is perfect for areas between approx. 25 and 64m. For large areas of 50m and above the Whale Splash Pad is the best option.

Both the Penguin and Dolphin Splash Pad are supplied in easy-to-install kits whilst the Whale Splash Pad is a custom designed item with each Whale being bespoke to individual projects.

The Penguin splash pad is an example of a fresh water single use system and has a 1,000 litre above ground reservoir tank. It is supplied in a kit for easy installation and includes six flush mounted play items, three display pumps, a control panel and all the pipe and fittings to connect the play items to the pumps. It is ideally suited to domestic gardens, schools, holiday sites and small public park.

The Dolphin splash pad is also a kit and this is supplied with ten flush mounted play items, a 2,500 litre underground water storage tank, display pump, full filtration and chemical treatment system and a control panel. This is the perfect solution for a medium sized splash pad in a larger domestic or smaller commercial situation.

Every Whale splash pad is designed specifically for each project and it is possible to have either a fresh water single use or recycled water system with a mix of flush mounted and above ground play items. Whale Splash Pads are the perfect solution for large public parks and tourist attractions to add a unique aquatic adventure for visitors to enjoy.

As you can see, there are lots of things to think about when it comes to splash pads and water play. At Splash Pads Limited we have the experience to help guide you through the full design process from concept generation to project completion.  If you would like to discuss this article or any projects in more detail please get in contact with a member of our team.

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