When you imagine a new playground, you probably think of the design options, cool structures, colors, layout and flow of the space. You know, the fun stuff. Chances are, you’re mind doesn’t immediately wander toward what’s on the ground. That's understandable. We get it.
However, although it may not be as exciting as the structures themselves, the type of surface used is every bit as important and should be carefully considered when designing a new playground. The options should be researched, discussed and worked into the budget and overall design.
What's on the ground certainly shouldn't be an afterthought. Below are five reasons to make surfacing a priority in your new or renovated playground:
Safety – In the old days, when parks had a merry-go-round, a couple swings and some monkey bars kids didn't have nearly as far to fall. Today’s structures are intricate, built higher and created to encourage activity and promote fitness. They are designed with safety as the #1 priority, but falls (and even minor trips!) are inevitable. There's a big difference in falling on a hard surface vs. one that is strategically planned.
Durability – Proper playground surfacing is designed to last and hold up well. It includes proper drainage and quality materials so it will last for years to come.
Compliance – As of March 15, 2012, new and renovated playground surfaces must pass ASTM Standards for impact protection (F 1292) and wheelchair access (F 1951). It’s imperative to have barrier free access to public play areas in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
Aesthetics – When designing a new playground, you want the surface to “go” with the rest of the design. You can choose materials and colors that coordinate with the design, whether a natural or urban setting.
Cost – You’ll want to include surfacing in your planning/budget so there will be no surprises on cost. The last thing you want to do is design a fabulous playground and then realize you forgot to allow for the surface. There are options to fit all budgets.
Playground Surfacing Options
Of course, the options can be overwhelming, and with anything there are pros and cons to each. This is why it’s important to work with a reputable company so you can questions and gather information.
May Recreation has years of experience with a variety of playground surfacing, and can provide information and explain the benefits of each. For a quick, cliff notes version, our playground surfacing typically falls in two categories: Loose Fill & Unitary Coverings
Loose Fill Playground Surfacing Options
Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) - Fibar is the pioneer for this economical option. Fibar’s Drainage, geotextile fabric and wear mats help keep the playground safe and looking good.
Rubberized Loose Fill (Rubber Mulch) – If you prefer to use a synthetic product, Playsafer rubber mulch by Rubberecycle is safe, clean and environmentally friendly.
Unitary Playground Surfacing
Pour-in-Place - Pour-In-Place surfacing options offer an alternative to loose fill that is unparalleled in durability. May Recreation uses products supplied and installed by No Fault.
Synthetic Turf – For those that want the look and feel of natural grass but love the idea of less maintenance and upkeep, synthetic turf may be the right choice.
Finally, when designing a new playground don’t forget the surfacing containment! Plastic border timbers come in a variety of colors to complete the look!
For more information about playground surfaces or to discuss your project contact May Recreation today.