5 Tips for Natural Play with Safe, Sustainable Flooring

A Playground should be a safe and engaging safe to play for all children, and using nature in your playground is a great way to promote healthy inclusive play. Learning, playing, and socialising in the great outdoors are enhanced by natural play environments that use nature in their play design.

Natural play involves surfaces and equipment that create a connection with nature in daily play on the playground. This includes hybrid grass, rubber matting that does not impede grass growth, integrating plant life into playground design, and using only the best sustainable flooring options.

1. The Importance of Natural Play for Childhood Development

As experts in the outdoor play sector with over 20 years in playground surface installation, PlaySmart is passionate about instilling a lifelong appreciation for the natural world among young people. Getting kids out to enjoy the fresh air and sun to enjoy natural play is important for nurturing future stewards of your local environment

Spending time outdoors in a space full of natural playground ideas and inspirations for play and exploration of the environment is important for children’s development of creativity and imagination as well as encouraging physical activity, sensory development, and overall emotional well-being. A space to play that uses nature in its playground design through nature-themed playground surfacing options and finding places for children to engage with the natural world with plants and animals.

Natural play can involve a range of different engagements with nature and the environment imagined and real. Den-building activities or forest education are increasingly popular in the UK and make great use of slip-resistant and accessible pathways through wooded areas to provide increased inclusivity in these activities.

With a nature-themed playground, colour, design, and character across a cohesive playground designed around natural play can inspire unstructured play with imaginations captured by animals and the natural world in the correct environment.

2. Rubber Grass Protection Mats Work with your Lawn Surface

On school fields and in garden lawns with high playground equipment, safety concerns are often seen as more important than protecting the grass underneath. However, these 2 aspects can coexist with grass protection mats providing critical fall height protection while not impeding grass growth, allowing for natural growth to show through and create a more natural-looking play area.

EcoSmart rubber grass mats are made from recycled rubber in a honeycomb structure with a perforated design with gaps for grass to grow through and to provide greater shock absorption than solid plastic safety tiles. Recycled rubber grass matting is a sustainable flooring option way to provide a safe space to play, protecting children using playground equipment, and reduce the risks of erosion and puddling even in wet or muddy sites.

Grass protection mats are easily installed over a solid grass base with very little groundwork needed, limiting disruption to your grass health and soil. However, if your ground quality is lower than required for the required critical fall height, we recommend SmartPlay shock pad underlay installation to stabilise soil and enhance grass growth.

Once SmartPlay shock pad underlays are installed, EcoSmart rubber grass mats with seed and soil layers underneath are applied. This process of seeded matting for grass growth enhancement aids in the recovery of the natural grass look of your play area lawn for effective long-term grass protection.

Rubber Grass mats with grass growing through the holes under a tall piles of rocks
3. Hybrid Grass Flooring Mats Solving Artificial Grass Problems

As an alternative to AstroTurf grass rolls, Hybrid Grass provides a solution to many of the problems with artificial grass. Hybrid Grass gives just as much of an all-year 24/7 natural grass look with real, natural grass woven into the structure of the mat for a durable, soft, and low-maintenance artificial grass solution.

This Hybrid Grass option is a smart grass mat solution that requires less groundwork prep for artificial grass installation than purely synthetic grass mats. The netted backing of Hybrid Grass mats allows natural grass growth to incorporate nature into the structure of a lawn that remains green in all weathers.

PlaySmart recommends Hybrid Grass mats for areas with patchy natural grass or poorer quality soil for a more consistent green, natural look without losing the real grass that makes your lawn truly natural.

4. Sustainable Flooring Ideas for any Site

If you are looking for natural, sustainable playground ideas that provide great quality critical fall height, slip resistance, and durability, PlaySmart provides multiple options for you.

Natural cork flooring options like Corkeen is a sustainable flooring solution that provides you with an environmentally friendly solution for pathways, playgrounds, and any leisure or recreational areas. Cork is a renewable resource that is naturally antimicrobial and shock-absorbent, you don’t need to sacrifice functionality to work with natural, sustainable flooring on your playground site!

Recycled rubber is also a more sustainable flooring material than many alternatives. Our unique natural blend of recycled rubber and organic rubber mulch colour pigments contains no toxins or contaminants such as metals and fibres that can be present in other surfaces. The impact absorption, slip resistance, and use incorporating nature of JungleMulch Bonded Rubber mulch are unparalleled, making it the best, most cost-effective sustainable playground idea.

By choosing these sustainable flooring materials, you not only create a nature-inspired playground but also contribute to the preservation of the environment.

5. Nature and Plant Life Incorporated into Playground Design
Brown and red JungleMulch Rubber mulch underneath tree and vegetation growth at the side of a pathway

Rubber mulch solutions such as JungleMulch as very flexible in their use as part of playground design, working with nature to provide the best natural play environment. The rubber play bark eco-chipping or bonded rubber mulch options for JungleMulch are regularly used to protect embankments or around areas of vegetation and the tree line to provide a secure, shock-absorbent layer of protection for nature and children on the playground.

Incorporating natural elements such as logs, trees, and tree stumps as active play elements enhances the natural playground ideas you are pursuing through playground design. JungleMulch is installed with minimal groundwork anywhere you require, notably over tree roots or around natural features that can be climbed and played upon, providing fall and trip protection.

JungleMulch comes in a range of natural colour blends or vibrant options and designs to give your playground project an extra sense of promoting natural play to blend in with the environment. Rubber Bark and Rubber Mulch maintenance is simple and easy, posing minimal disruption to your natural features, and a weed-resistant sub-base that does not impact the growth of desired plant life helps protect nature in the long term while staying flat and useable.

Are you looking for Natural Playground Ideas?

Our playground surface options come with a lot of flexibility in how they can be used on your specific site as sustainable flooring options, or nature-themed playground elements.

Contact our expert team of playground surface installers today to find out how we can help! Fill in our handy contact form at the top of this page, email us at info@playsmartuk.co.uk, or give us a call on 01564 742811.

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