Surfacing Solutions for your Garden Play Equipment
We are able to offer a wide range of safety surfaces, from woodchip to bonded rubber crumb surfaces. There are many options available, and what is best for you will be a combination of factors including safety and fall protection, visual appeal, levels of wear and traffic, appropriateness of particular solutions to the site, and of course budget. If we are making a site visit to you we will be able to advise on the suitability of particular surfaces to suit your circumstances.
A lot of our customers rely on grass alone as a safety surface. A good well established lawn will provide a level of fall protection. Grass is not that tolerant of high levels of traffic, so at the end of slides, stairs, under swings etc, it is likely that the grass will struggle to compete with the wear of excited feet. The impact absorption abilities of grassed lawn can be very variable depending particularly on the time of year and the amount of sunshine and rainfall. Dry ground, with dry grass is not a very yielding substance at all. A good solution to maintaining a natural grassed garden is the use of grow through rubber mats (see below).
Play Grade Woodchip
An effective natural solution. One of the most inexpensive safety surfaces. It does require reasonable depth to provide adequate fall protection, and usually this means building a wooden surround to contain the woodchip. We also lay a weed control membrane under the woodchip to prevent weeds growing through from the soil below. Woodchip can look fantastic, and is reasonably long lasting, although may need to be topped up on an annual basis. It should also be raked regularly to re distribute the woodchip evenly over the area. We always prefer woodchip over play bark. Our experience is that woodchip lasts longer and is a much cleaner substance than play bark. A downside of any loose fill surface, including woodchip is that cats and wild animals may use it as a toilet. That said woodchip is easily our most popular safety surface.
Rubber playchip is available in a range of particle sizes, from relatively small crumb to larger chips. We find that for loose fill use the larger chips work a lot better, staying where they should be in the play area rather than migrating onto surrounding lawn etc. Rubber loose fill surfaces are available in a range of colours, and do not require the same depth of material as wood chip. We would always apply a weedcontrol membrane, and wooden shuttering around to contain the material. Rubber is a relatively inexpensive solution particularly as it is laid in a much thinner layer than woodchip. Rubber chip also needs to be raked regularly to maintain an even distribution.
Grow through rubber mats
These large mats are also very popular. They simply lay onto the ground around the play equipment. If the grass grows well on the site then the grass will grow through the mats and hide the rubber. They can be mown over. There are 2 ways in a garden of using rubber grow through mats. They can be laid to make a continuous area, tied together and pegged. What we find for many customers is that laying mats just where the activities are, or where there is a higher risk of falling keeps the cost down, whilst providing an effective safety surface. It is worth bearing in mind that if the grass is struggling to grow in the area grow through rubber mats will not help the grass grow, another safety surface may be a better solution in this case.
Astro turf/Easigrass/Fake lawn
If you want astroturf around the play equipment then you will also need a shockpad under the grass. Astroturf can be an effective safety surface, and has the benefit of being vey low maintenance and being suitable for shaded areas etc. It can also be laid on mildly sloping and uneven ground. Fake grass is one of the more expensive solutions, particularly if the area is quite large. Playways do not directly supply and fit fake grass, there are many companies around that do this, we’re happy to recommend companies that we have worked with in the past.
Solid rubber tiles
When laid these provide the same level of protection as a bonded rubber crumb surface. They need to be laid on an appropriately prepared surface, ideally concrete. or compacted sand on a hardcore base.
Bonded rubber chip and bonded rubber crumb surfaces
By far the most expensive options available, particularly bonded rubber crumb (often known as ‘wetpour’). More frequently used in public and commercial play areas, this very effective safety surface does have the downside of looking like tarmac. This is another safety surface that we would recommend external specialists for.