Grass Mats Gone Wrong!
Given it’s officially spooky season, and the scariest day of the year is this Sunday, we here at PlaySmart thought the right way to celebrate was to share some of the spookiest surfacing we’ve seen… But fear not, if you’re a scaredy-cat, we’ll also tell you what went wrong, how we fixed it and how you can avoid a fright!
In the safety surfacing industry, it’s important to remember that skimping on costs or relaxing your standards for labour has a high likelihood of costing you more in the long run. Cheap materials are easily resourced, and their quality is never as high, meaning there is more room for them to break, wear down, become faulty or defective. Likewise, a lower labour cost may seem good at the time, but it is usually indicative of a lack of experience or skills, and this could become very costly in the future if and when mistakes need to be rectified.
Grass mats are a wonderful addition to any playground, park or recreational space, and our EcoSmart Grass Mats are no exception. Made from recycled rubber with a 10-year product and 5-year installation guarantee, our low maintenance and minimal fuss rubber grass mats are a no brainer when it comes to choosing a suitable safety surface.
However, there is unfortunately a lot of room for error in the industry, and grass mats are no exception. In the spirit of spooky season, PlaySmart will be sharing our picks of freaky flooring, and helping you know to avoid this!
Presenting our first example of a grass mat in distress, we were suitably shocked when we came across this surface.
Firstly, grass mats should have a uniform structure, with the mats aligning and interconnected. At this site we visited, you can unfortunately see that the mats have come away from each other, leaving an uneven gap up the middle of the mats. This is not only a huge trip and slip hazard due to the dips in the surface, it also means grass will grow faster in this patch, creating an extra mowing job. Despite being a risk, this is salvageable when pinpointing the issue at hand.
In this case, not enough ties or pegs were used during installation. Ties and pegs connect the grass mats to one another to create a level and safely connected surface that won’t come apart. Here, the lack of ties and pegs used when initially laying down the mats has caused them to come away from each other. Not only does it look aesthetically unappealing, it is easier for them to get kicked up, move away from each other more, and presents a trip hazard as any uneven surface would.
Unfortunately, the mats have also sunk into the ground. In stable, well-drained ground conditions, grass mats generally tend to retain their positioning. However, poorer ground conditions – wet or boggy earth for example – can lead to the mats sinking into the ground. Nevertheless, if your ground isn’t in ideal condition, PlaySmart have the perfect patented solution for you.
We always recommend the use of our SmartPlay system for grass mat sites where conditions are not perfect. This foam layer, installed under the mats, encourages them to retain their position while still allowing grass to grow through the surface.
With over 20 years of experience in the industry, and a patented solution to less than ideal ground conditions, it’s easy to see why so many choose PlaySmart for their safety surfacing needs. And if you needed any further proof, take a look at this installation for one of our clients, to see how a good rubber grass mat should be installed.
Our second Halloween horror is just as ghoulish as the first, sending shivers down the PlaySmart team’s spines. As stressed above, an uneven, boggy or muddy surface can still be used for grass mats, but our patented SmartPlay system is needed in order for the mats to not sink into the ground. Take a look at the below…
Here is an excellent example of a surface crying out for SmartPlay. If you look at the grass edges surrounding the mats, you can see that the grass mats have actually sunk substantially into the ground.
This has also made the surface more prone to muddy puddles, as you can see from the boggy buildup around the edges and towards the centre. Drainage is a very important aspect of grass matting, and it will help you avoid swamp-like surfaces like the above, or even more extreme instances such as flooding.
Had this client gone with PlaySmart in the first instance, we would have avoided this by identifying the uneven surface and advising the installation of SmartPlay alongside the grass mats.As mentioned before, SmartPlay provides an extra surface layer, putting more distance between the grass mat and the ground, which encourages more grass growth and facilitates for better drainage. The puddles you can see on this surface wouldn’t have appeared, and there would also be no sinking; SmartPlay’s additional shock-absorbent layer prevents mats from sinking further into the grass.
Onto our third example of a freakishly sub-par installation, here we have another ghastly grass mat. This mat, as you can see, is made of metal – enough to give us chills! Some surfacing companies use metal instead of their rubber for grass mats, which PlaySmart do not recommend.
Because grass mats are used in fall areas, covering playground surfaces or parks where children play, there is a high likelihood that kids will be kids and have accidents happen. Naturally, when this happens, the surface should be made of a material like rubber that should soften the blow. As you can imagine, a child falling onto a metal mat is going to hurt considerably more! Additionally, when using metal there is no real guarantee that a sharp piece of metal wouldn’t become exposed, which would create a nasty cut and risk of infection if a child fell on it. PlaySmart keep safety as a top priority and use rubber for our grass mats to reduce risk of injury.
Looking at this image, you may also have noticed one of the metal pegs have come loose. Unfortunately, this seems to be the product of poor installation, and creates a choking risk for toddlers and any animals using the surface, who know no better than popping small foreign objects into their mouths! Not only is it a choking hazard, but metal pegs are bound to hurt if fallen on. You shouldn’t see pegs on a grass mat installation as a general rule of thumb, in keeping with aesthetics – PlaySmart hide the pegs and ties used in our installations to create that natural, tidy look.
And once again, that most horrifying thing of all – the grass mat has sunk exponentially! Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the rest of this article, you’ll know what could have fixed it… yes, SmartPlay. It appears that over years of use, being in a high foot-traffic area, the whole installation has sunk. This isn’t what we want for our clients, and that is why we recommend installing SmartPlay to prevent sinking.
You can now breathe a sigh of relief as we draw our Halloween Horrors to an end. We hope this hasn’t been too scary for you to see, but hopefully you can sleep well this spooky Sunday knowing that PlaySmart have the perfect patented solution to solve your nasty surface nightmares. Happy spooky season…