How to Choose a Garden Surface for Your Children

Hard surfaces make for hard landings, and as children spend so much time falling over – whether from a rough tackle at football, a mis-timed jump over the skipping rope or nothing more than tripping over their own feet – a child-friendly surface is called for.

Grass

The most obvious surface is grass. It looks good, is a pleasure to sit on and smells delicious when just cut.

Most families enjoy an area of grass to sit or play on, and the key to keeping a family lawn looking good is to choose a suitable grass mixture for your needs. Those including resilient rye grass are ideal for a hard-wearing lawn. Don’t mow too short, but set the blades higher than you would for a luxury lawn so that the minimum finished length is 2-2.5cm/3/4-lin. This is particularly applicable when there are water shortages as the lawn will look better when slightly longer.

garden surface How to Choose a Garden Surface for Your Children

In heavily-used areas, such as that beneath a swing or climbing frame, lay rubber mesh with black rubber matting tiles on top. These are held in place with specially designed pins. The mesh spreads the load and ensures the tiles do not damage the turf and, as the grass grows up through the mesh and tiles, it hides them completely. The joy of this system is that it both protects the grass, and allows you can to mow whenever you please.

Alternatives

If you live in a very wet climate it may be better to choose an alternative surface, because grass takes quite a while to dry after rain and can all too easily deteriorate into a permanently muddy quagmire.

Natural

Much-used areas, such as the ground beneath a swing, can become so compressed that it is as hard as concrete. Here a few bags of chipped hark, which is available from any garden centre, should be laid as a mulch. It instantly creates a surface which looks totally in keeping with its surroundings and provides a very soli landing.

Sand is also a good surface under swings and climbing frames. However it is best avoided if you have pets, as they may decide to use it as a giant litter tray.

Man-made

Over the past few years a number of man-made crash surfaces, previously only seen in municipal play grounds, have appeared on the market. These consist mainly of treated cork or porous rubber malting and dies, which come in every colour of the rainbow. They are excellent, safe surfaces with built-in bounce and are weatherproof and tough enough to cope with extremely hard wear. The downside is dial they are relatively expensive and many should be laid by a professional qualified contractor. It does, however, last for years, and when the children have outgrown the area, it could then be used as an alternative area for outdoor dining.

Artificial turf has been around for many years and, although it is also fairly expensive, it is a good all-weather surface which has proved itself very durable, it is easy to maintain, needing only the occasional hose-down, and it is simple to lay. It provides a gentle landing, and will withstand much more wear-and-tear then real grass.


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