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For Zane North, a Blueprint to Grow Greener

  • Conceptual design for Zane North shows how the playground can be greened to diversify play and the natural environment.

Zane North, an elementary school in Collingswood, NJ, is known for its academic excellence and engaged parents. The school wants to grow greener and the Collaborative’s conceptual plan for the Zane North playground will provide the blueprint.

Zane’s PTA has already partnered with the Perkins Center for the Arts on a rain garden, seating, and native plantings along narrow, shaded Lees Avenue, which leads up to the school’s main entrance. Now the group wants to expand their greening efforts, turning attention to the playground.

The school district has allocated roughly $100,000 to Zane for sustainable improvements. Zane’s PTA wanted to use this funding wisely, using it to leverage other improvements to the schoolyard’s infrastructure.  So they put the funding in reserve until they completed a master plan with the Collaborative.

An L-shaped playground covers nearly half of the school property. It is almost entirely paved and unshaded. Rethinking the school landscape also presented an opportunity to address some trouble spots—mud and icing at the entrance and areas where water pools in the play areas.

A task force of parents and teachers, complemented by ideas gathered from Zane North students, identified the following priorities for their green schoolyard:
  • A setting that fosters environmental education
  • New recreational choices like a quarter-mile walking path, a Gaga pit (a variant of dodge ball that allows for small or large groups to play), and amphitheater
  • Stormwater management that would be used as an educational opportunity
  • Improve the way the playground functions—more seating and the better ability to supervise activity
The design focuses on greening the space between existing play areas for basketball, kickball, and play equipment. New attention to these in-between spots could diversify the character of the playground—and of play—with a walking path around the periphery of the playground, a “buddy bench”, a secret garden, and a rainfall structure that acts as a trellis and allows kids to observe stormwater collection in action.

The Collaborative’s master plan will allow Zane North to pursue projects in phases as resources become available. It also outlines simpler planting and maintenance tasks for the community to carry out to achieve a greener schoolyard.

  • View towards the amphitheater and secret garden.


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