Designing a park is a privilege. You are designing for the public, and your main focus is to encourage outdoor enjoyment. The more a park is used, the safer it becomes. Add amenities that support park use. Provide parking spaces, meeting spaces, playing spaces, sitting places, open spaces, and performing spaces. People like to picnic in parks, so provide places to eat and include clean public bathrooms for relief. A practical landscape design will include benefits for the people who use it.
A safer, heavily-used park will need reliable maintenance. When you feel overwhelmed with the maintenance responsibility for a much-used park, that’s great! The park is working. People make a park a public space. Embrace the maintenance burden of the crowd and expect the work to be on-going.
Parks might include sports structures. Incorporating sports fields in a park is easy. There are special manufacturers more than willing to supply you with tons of information and CAD details to design sports facilities using their products.
Park landscapes can include special trees that can be grown nowhere else. A park tree has room to grow to a massive size. New York would not be the great, international city without Central Park and all the other smaller parks within the metro area. Huge Oaks and towering Poplars finally have the room in a park to grow to full, unrestricted maturity. The plant material is the main attraction. Some parks use their acreage as both an arboretum as well as a public play space. Balboa Park in San Diego has a Japanese Garden and a Desert Garden as part of their many museums and attractions that draw visitors. A park is a rare combination of large, public, open expanse and lack of development. Plants have room to send out roots and grow to large-scale specimens.
Park design is planning for the people. Get local input if you want your design to be successful. Landscape architects tend to be shy, but with park design, you must overcome that shyness! Have public meetings and communicate with the locals throughout the design process. Describe the budget and reasonable expectations, and then listen, listen, listen.