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Outdoor playgrounds are a fantastic space and somewhere that children can learn, develop and grow. Key to how usable and enjoyable playgrounds are is the surfacing that you choose. This often doesn’t seem like a particularly big decision but it will actually influence everything, from how safe the playground is to whether it gets a lot of use. So, what do you need to think about in terms of what matters when it comes to playground surfacing?

Why does playground surface really matter?

There are many different reasons why playground surface does really matter – but perhaps three that stand out above all the others.

  1. Safety. It’s important that a playground is somewhere that children can feel safe to play – and adults can relax knowing that all possible steps have been taken to ensure safety. There are lots of different types of activities that take place in a playground, from running and jumping to all sorts of creative games, so it’s important that the playground surface is the right one to support this. The surface should be soft enough to cushion falls and help to minimise the potential for injuries.
  2. Usability. The ultimate aim of any playground surface is that children can play on it easily. If the surface is too hard then it might not be comfortable to play on and if it’s too slippery then it may cause falls and anxiety.
  3. Equipment. Picking the right playground surface is also important when it comes to the equipment that you’re planning for the play area. This is because the wrong surfacing can cause damage to equipment over time. So, it’s going to be vital to choose one that is able to withstand wear and tear and support your equipment well.

What are the options?

The right playground surface is going to depend on the environment and the objectives for the play area. These are some of the options available:

  • Rubber mulch. Eco-friendly, as it’s made from recycled tires, easy to install and very soft, rubber mulch provides a great, safe option for many different types of playground areas.
  • Wet pour rubber. This is another great option for playground surfaces, as it’s very durable and considered to be very safe. Wet pour rubber is made from rubber granules in a binder that are then poured onto the playground, creating a seamless surface. It can be customised with all kinds of colours and educational details to make it unique.
  • Artificial turf. Especially if the playground is going to be used for games and sports, artificial turf is an increasingly popular choice. Today, it’s as realistic as real grass and can withstand wear and tear in all sorts of weather.
  • Engineered wood fibre. This surface material is made from shredded wood that has been engineered to resist pests, mold and mildew.
  • Sand. It’s soft and a great cushion for falls but can be messy.

Picking the right playground surface really matters. Options like asphalt and concrete have increasingly been replaced by safer and more creative surfacing options like wet pour and rubber mulch.