Top Tips to Keep Children’s Outdoor Play Safe and Fun

Keeping children and infants safe when playing is essential when designing any site where they have free range to play, run, and explore. Playground ideas for schools, nurseries, and public playgrounds need to consider playground safety regulations in the surfacing choices made to create the best playground possible that stays safe and secure for kids to enjoy for years to come.

Shock Absorbent Flooring in High-Risk Areas

Young children love to play and challenge themselves on playground equipment, but this can create safety risks when not given the right amount of protection. Playground surfacing is therefore designed to meet Critical Fall Height protection standards under BS EN 1177 to provide a softer fall from maximum heights of the equipment underneath.

For natural playgrounds wanting to provide safety without sacrificing green grass fields, rubber grass mats are an ideal option. PlaySmart’s EcoSmart Grass mats with SmartPlay shock pad underlay system are non-disruptive to existing surfaces, requiring minimal groundwork for secure safety flooring with a maximum critical fall height of 2.9m (when tested on a good quality grass base).

Grass mats with grass grown through underneath small wooden playground climbing equipment

Children’s outdoor play surfaces may require different flooring types that work in smaller areas without grass or play equipment yet still require safety surfacing to ensure all play remains safe. Artificial grass shock pad underlay combinations, rubber mulch pathways, and even EPDM wear pads specially designed to provide fall protection in high-impact areas are great playground ideas for schools and other areas looking for vibrant safety surface solutions in different types of play areas.

Loose Fill Surfaces Create Choking Hazards
EPDM Mulch installed in creative red and green design at St. Louis Playground

Traditional children’s play bark is a functional playground surfacing with shock-absorbent qualities. Natural bark playground surfacing is a loose fill material consisting of bark flakes that can be up to an inch long, causing a choking hazard when used in a play area for young children such as in a nursery.

Bonded rubber mulch surfacing does not have this problem. The mixed-size rubber pieces are firmly bonded into the flat surface, creating a natural-looking bark-like texture for the area, without bark pieces being lost over time or causing risks to children. We especially recommend EPDM rubber mulch in areas most used by small children as the virgin rubber has the additional benefit of not fading over time and will not produce carbon residue that may be harmful when built up over time.

Accessible Playgrounds

Children’s’ play areas should be fully accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, allowing everyone to use the facilities and move around freely. A strong solid surface with minimal joins between adjoining surfaces makes moving around outdoors easier for those using mobility aids, encouraging an inclusive shared space to play.

Large Hybrid Grass Field Installed in Northampton Park

Hybrid grass rolls can be installed on open fields or small grassy areas to maintain the natural aesthetic of a site while helping the grass and soil to remain firm and accessible. Many clients come to us with complaints of muddy, boggy ground that makes accessing playing fields difficult for those with mobility aids, bikes, and buggies. The netted backing of hybrid grass provides the support needed for safe access, allowing air and water to circulate naturally into the soil while protecting the ground below from subsistence and puddling that can cause issues.

The expert installation of our surfaces uses recessing and edge-securing techniques to connect disparate elements of the play space without steps or gaps. PlaySmart’s patented grass mat installation techniques ensure that the care our team takes to provide flat, stable ground is unmatched! In some cases, mini edge-ramps may be required for rubber surfaces to ensure full accessibility and avoid trip edges.

PlaySmart provides the Best, Safest Materials for Children's Outdoor Play Areas

For more inspiration and information on how our team can use surface design to optimise outdoor safety across the country, check out our latest projects using a mixture of different materials for the best kids’ playgrounds,

If you have any questions about PlaySmart, or want a Quick Quote on a job from us, we encourage you to start a dialogue by filling in our contact and quote forms available from our Contact Page.

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