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play surfaces

  • Keep Off The Grass - What's Left Of It Anyway

    So how’s your lawn looking? The grass here is starting to look a little shabby, so I’ve been looking in to what I can do to restore it to its former glory, but also considering some permanent less muddy alternatives.

    Where’s The Grass Gone? So here’s what’s happened (well here at least anyway). It’s rained. A lot. Not torrential downpours, but a good regular sprinkling, often for a few weeks. So why has that ruined the lawn? Don’t we look at a grey day and muster the positivity to say ‘ah well, it’s good for the garden’? Well it’s not. Because the moisture has been readily available in the soil, the grass roots are shallow. They’ve had no need to reach down deep into the soil. So the grass isn’t very strong.

    Ideally in its fragile state it would be left to recover. No one would walk on it. And certainly no trucks would clip the edges of it. I think we both know that the grass here has not enjoyed that luxury. So after a little rough handling, many of the blades have abandoned ship, and what we’re left with is some muddy gloop (which at least I don’t need to mow).

    How To Fix It There’s good news. There is hope for a revival.

    And bad news. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

    As the cold weather sets in there will be frosts and maybe snow (Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!!!). And then you / the children / the postman will stroll across, enjoying the satisfying crunch underfoot, totally oblivious to the fact that the fragile little grass blades are being decimated underneath.

    Then as the snow / frost melts, more water seeps into the soil.

    If your garden is lawn is looking as sorry a mine, it will seem unbelievable that it could get even more brown.

    So stay off the grass as much as possible. Even if that means having a polite word with the postman.

    Once the weather improves and spring is on the horizon, give the lawn a helping hand with some additional seed and plenty of fertilizer.

    Or Get Rid Of It For many families, simply staying off the grass is not an option. If you’ve invested in a climbing frame or other play equipment, you want your children to be able to play with it, even if it is at the expense of the grass. Even if half the lawn turns to mush, then gets tracked through the house.

    Artificial grass has improved massively in appearance in recent years, and is designed to withstand sporting activities and the British weather.

    Alternatively, if you’d rather avoid the faux appearance and commit to a non-grass-like appearance, there are a range of colourful rubberized play surfaces that can be laid instead.

    The most affordable way to make a big difference, is to install play surfaces in the areas around play equipment where the grass is currently taking the worst of the traffic. Then look after the lawn in the rest of the garden to keep the space looking green and natural.

  • What To Put Under A Children's Climbing Frame

    The surface you put under your climbing frame needs to be safe, clean and easy to maintain.

    You will be far more relaxed watching your children, as well as family and friends, playing on the frame, when you know that they are adequately protected from a fall.

    Let's take a look at some of your options:

    Grass

    It's tempting to take advantage of the flooring nature already provides in your garden. In the Spring and Autumn the ground will feel springy, and offer some fall protection. But since your climbing frame will be used all year round, you need a playing surface that's effective for 12 months of the year. In the Summer, when the ground dries out, the mud will be so hard that any impact could cause injury. In the Winter, wet weather will make the ground near the frame vulnerable to damage, especially at the bottom of the slide. You could quickly end up with a mud pit, and you won't be very popular with parents of friends who come round to play.

    Bark Chippings

    These offer an inexpensive solution and are often used to cover large areas. There are two things you need to be wary of with bark chippings. Firstly that their lightweight nature means they often stray from the area you intended, requiring frequent top-ups. The other is that they can attract local cats looking for a place to use as their litter tray.

    Rubber Chippings

    These are often made from recycled car tyres, so you can feel good about protecting your children, and helping the environment at the same time. These chippings are heavier than bark, so they tend to stay in place, and don't get blown around the garden.

    Rubber Mats

    Gridded rubber mats, like these Plum Protektamats, are the easiest option to install. The mats lock together, creating one continuous play surface. There's no digging or ground preparation required, simply lay the mats on your lawn. Over time the grass will grow through the grids, so you won't be able to see the mats. Things to consider when choosing your ground cover:

    • Initial cost, plus ongoing maintenance top-up costs.
    • What is the critical fall height the surface protects to? Is this adequate for the height of your climbing frame?
    • How will the surface look in the context of your garden? If you are keen gardener, you won't want your outside space looking like the local recreation ground.
    • Is the surface abrasive? How will it feel when a child skims the surface as they come off the end of the slide?
    • Check for non-toxicity, for both children and your garden. This surface will be exposed to lots of rain, which could wash any toxins into your soil.
    • If you choose a loose ground cover, such as bark or rubber chippings, putting a weed control membrane will help suppress weeds and grass from breaking through, but will also effect drainage of the area.

    Choosing the right kind of play surface is a careful balance between cost, and protection, both for your children, and your garden,. It's a worthwhile investment so your family can safely enjoy their new outdoor play equipment all year round.

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