Photo by Dave Sherrill on Unsplash
Whether you are focused on improving the look of your playground or working to ensure you meet all of the relevant health and safety regulations and standards, it’s crucial that you choose the right playground ground cover.
After all, this is the foundation which you build the rest of your playground around – and it can alter everything from the appearance of your playset to the safety of those that use it.
What is playground ground cover?
Playground ground cover refers to the proactive surface that sits underneath or around playgrounds. It is sometimes referred to as a playground surface or paving.
While at one stage, the majority of playgrounds had concrete surfaces, the prevalence of injuries associated with this kind of ground covering means that other options are now considered to be superior, such as rubberized flooring and artificial turf.
Why do you need playground ground cover?
There are many different reasons why you need playground ground cover.
Firstly, they can help to prevent injuries due to the fact that they offer shock or impact absorption in the event of an accident. This is particularly important when you consider that “there are approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year which result in a hospital visit,” many of which are caused by improper surfaces or playground ground cover.
Playground cover can also ensure your playground is accessible, in correspondence with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which helps to promote “inclusive play opportunities.”
Furthermore, playground ground cover can also help keep your playground in good working order. For example, the right flooring or surfaces offer improved durability, meaning they won’t fall victim to wear and tear or adverse weather conditions. As a result, this can reduce the amount of time you spend on playground maintenance, providing you learn how to clean and care for them properly.
What are the different types of playground ground cover?
There are many different types of playground ground cover available. This includes:
- Bonded rubber mulch
- Poured in place rubber
- Artificial turf
Bonded rubber mulch
Bonded Rubber Mulch is made from recycled rubber tyres and is designed for use in a range of playgrounds and similar facilities. The shredded rubber is set in place with a specialist resin, which gives the playground ground covering a smooth yet durable finish. As a result, not only is this an eco-friendly flooring solution, but it’s also long-lasting and weather-resistant.
Furthermore, many studies advocate for the use of rubberized flooring materials in playgrounds due to the extra layer of protection they provide. For example, bonded rubber mulch flooring is impact and shock resistant, which can reduce the chances of injuries occurring if a child slips, trips, or falls. Furthermore, the smooth surface can reduce tripping hazards quite considerably.
Bonded rubber mulch is also an excellent choice of playground ground cover because it is highly durable. For example, unlike other materials such as wood chips, it will not break down, rot or decompose over time. This means that it requires minimal maintenance or upkeep.
Poured in place rubber.
Poured in place rubber flooring is made from a 100% Pre-Consumer (Virgin) Recycled chunk rubber base with a TPV Granule wear course. Once again, this creates a strong and sturdy surface for playgrounds, which also helps to prevent injuries.
This meets all of the relevant ADA and ASTM criteria, meaning that your playground will remain a safe and accessible space for all, and different aromatic & aliphatic binders can be used to ensure your playground ground cover stands up against different climates and weather conditions.
Furthermore, poured in place rubber playground ground flooring is highly porous, which means it’s able to absorb water and rainfall. This effectively stops water from building up on the surface of the floor, which would otherwise create a serious slipping hazard.
Both poured in place rubber and bonded rubber mulch are fully customizable, which means that you can affix your school’s logo, colors, and other features, such as geometric shapes and children’s games, to the surface of your playground. This can make it a much more exciting space for children to spend time in, support their development, or simply make the playground look more visually appealing. For example, you can carefully choose which colors to feature so that they match the playground equipment you have installed.
Artificial turf is also an excellent choice for playground ground flooring, especially as it’s a lower-maintenance alternative to natural grass while still achieving the same overall look.
Furthermore, it’s often considered to be a safer alternative to natural grass, as it meets varying health and safety standards, such as the Critical Fall Height attenuation requirements set forth by ASTM. However, it’s also worth noting that you should ensure that playground sets are a reasonable difference from the ground (no more than five feet) in order for the playground ground cover to be as effective in injury prevention as possible. Of course, the thickness of the materials used (rubber and urethane) can be altered depending on your specific choice of
equipment and tools.
Using artificial turf can once again help when it comes to ensuring your playground is eco-friendly, as it can significantly reduce your water consumption. After all, you’ll no longer need to water your turf whatsoever – which can help you reduce your spending quite significantly.
While many people use artificial turf because it is visually similar in appearance to natural grass, it can also be customized in the same way as other forms of rubber flooring so that it features logos, shapes, and more.
When you use high-quality artificial grass or turf, it will also stand the test of time. In fact, it should only need replacing every 10-15 years, providing you care for it accordingly. For example, while this does not need as much care and attention as actual grass, you should ensure that you work to keep your artificial turf cool.