St Michaels CE Primary School, Birmingham

St Michaels CE Primary School – Birmingham

The Nursery at St Michaels Church of England Primary School in Birmingham had a sizeable outdoor space, but it was uninspired, a flat patch of grass that was prone to becoming boggy. As a result, this patch of green space had been cordoned off, although there was still a green, planted areas outside of the perimeter that could be used as part of the future play area.

Project Brief

St Michaels CE Primary School wanted a more developmentally appropriate learning space, one that introduced elements of landform and planting, water and sand, varied play opportunities throughout. This space will be used by both nursery and reception aged children so the final design needed to  provide suitable play opportunities and challenge across these age ranges..  To deal with this the school utilised Playgarden’s specialist Landscape Design service which encompassed a visit to the site by the Landscape Architect who created a design to meet their brief.


With a significant budget of £100,000, St Michaels CE Primary School have used it wisely to create a staggering outdoor space. The sand and water zone is the first area that pupils come into contact with as they come into the space, with a pebble stream, playscape, mushroom water pump and sand tables and water channels.

An extended network of pathways, with roundabouts and zebra crossings dissect the site, creating a mini road network for wheeled toys and play journeys. The layout helps nurture consideration of other path / road users.

Grass mounds are used to add interest, encouraging children’s physical development as they negotiate the mounds, and use the small metal slide to come down again. Timber rounds and a playable boundary, with stile, provide challenging and interesting options for travelling into and through the site.

A concrete pipe den provides an exciting hidey hole for quiet conversation, or more exerting obstacle activities. The Willow structure, provides the perfect location for role play, in a beautiful green dome, a living structure, that will grow and develop over the coming months and years.

Rich planting around the site has created a lush landscape, one that will change through the seasons and prove attractive to birds and minibeasts.


• The access to the play areas is free-flowing, and the final play area is inspiring,  encouraging the children to go outside and interact with the space.

• The dedicated bike track contains wheeled toys, freeing up the other space and promoting consideration of others.

• The pebble play scape and the water enables children to become scientists, diverting the course of the water, mixing it with sand to achieve different results.

• Mud play affords  children the benefits of learning about the creation of mud, and its different properties in different forms.

• Sand play encourages loose parts play and transportation.

• Physical development is encouraged with the playable boundary, grass mounds, timber rounds and slide, providing different levels of challenge for children of all ages.

• The open ended design empowers children to play imaginatively, and freely selecting resources to enhance play.

• Concrete pipe den perfect for inventive role play, can be a cave, house, tunnel… anything.

• Extensive sensory planting has created a varied landscape, one that changes through the seasons and will attract a variety of wildlife.Sand and water nurture scientific skills as children build and experiment with sand and gain understanding of the flow and control of water.

Equipment: Mushroom Pump, Water Channels, Sand Tables, Embankment Slide, Playable Boundary, Stile, Concrete Pipe Den

Landscaping: Sand and Water Play Area, Pebble Play Stream, Pathways, Mounding, Living Willow Dome, Sensory and Wildlife Planting

What the client said…