The best play spaces are more than just play equipment.
Take a moment to consider your child's favourite playgrounds. What do they have in common. Chances are they aren't just hunk of play equipment plonked on a safety surface.
Instead, the best play spaces weave the equipment and surroundings together to create an inspirational environment for children to explore.
In this post we take a look at how you can adapt the principles used by professional playscape engineer and use them in your own back garden to create a beautiful, creative play environment.
#1 Add Natural Obstacles Smooth boulders, or mounds of dirt make excellent climbing apparatus, or shelters to hide behind. They are also relatively cheap, easy to install and require little (if any) maintenance. They are also low to the ground, making them especially suitable for younger children to explore.
#2 Create Sections Use planting, grass, trees and natural materials to create sectioned areas, with a winding path leading from one to the other. This helps prompt imaginative role play games. It also makes the play experience much more interesting when the options are slightly concealed in this way rather than having everything fully visible at once.
#3 Make Pathways Use different flooring materials like decking or cobble stones to create a variety of footpaths throughout the garden. Children love to trot over a bridge, but if you don't have a pond or stream to cross, create one out of flowers.
#4 Sprinkle With Details Add tiny details to be discovered through play. Turn a tree stump into a fairy house, or hide some magic toadstools for perching on amongst the grass.
#5 Make A Rubbish Corner Turn a small corner of the garden into nature's junkyard. Loose sticks, stones, pine cones, anything natural that won't rot quickly, will work wonders. This provides materials for imaginative play, and creates a sensory experience through the concentration of different sights, sounds and textures all in one place.
#6 Choose Wooden Play Equipment A wooden climbing frame is much better suited to a natural playscape than a metal one. The wood will fade gently over time, blending beautifully with the surrounding garden.
#7 Landscape Around Play Equipment After you've installed your play equipment, make changes to the garden around it to help to blend in. Cutting the surrounding lawn to echo the shape of the frame is a great way to incorporate the equipment into the garden, giving a professional look to the space.
#8 Move Things About Include items such as tunnels and big boulders that can be easily moved. Children quickly lose interest when over familiar with their surroundings, and may cease to see the many play opportunities their back garden offers them. Help them stay creative by changing the look of the garden a little each season, and adding or removing smaller pieces of play equipment.
#9 Vertical Spaces Don't forget to utilize vertical spaces. Not everything has to be a ground level. You can add a wall of music making pots and pans, or run lengths of guttering back and forth across the fence for water play.
With a little imagination, planning and time you can create an inspirational play space that will keep your children occupied for hours.