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New Outdoor Area - Soft Surface?


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I have input on our new nursery, building work commencing as I write. We have a reasonably sized outdoor area which at the moment has two trees and grass. My superiors are keen to put the soft bouncy surface over 90% of the garden leaving a small area for digging and planting. I think we should be brave and reduce the size to be made bouncy if indeed have any at all. What do you all think? If you were starting from scratch how would you design your outdoor space?

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we did... and tried first with grass, and unfortunately it really did not stand all the wear and tear.. but it was a small area so had lots of use.. and location gave us problems as well... It would look really great one day after the holiday.. and then bare from then on! We ended up with a sandy mud patch for most of the time it was only ever green for a week after a holiday.. and then only if someone had managed to go in and water it.

 

we looked into those tiles you put down so grass can grow through so helping protect it... but again had issues because we were not a flat piece of ground.. so they failed!

 

we did ended up with the bouncy surface.. which is good for our situation, but did get hot when in the sun all day..

 

out of choice we would have preferred the natural grass,( which while we did have it took a lot of looking after, so you would have to think about who looks after the area as well.. )

 

In all things it will have a lot of ifs and buts...but if grass has worked well so far would try to get it retained.. or a large part of it. and definitely keep the trees.. we had a huge one which provided a lot of shade and interest.. would never have removed it.. our bouncy surface was built around it!

 

INge

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A year ago I would have scoffed at the idea of anything 'fake' in the surface area - but now I can see the benefit. Most of my kids are out of FS now so not entirely relevant, but boy do they make a mess (of themselves and the lawn)?!

 

If you do go down the surface road, look into the porosity of the surface as you don't want the trees dying due to lack of water and air to their roots.

 

Honey

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We freeflow into a car park! So it's tarmac, plus gravel in our little garden area. I think it's good for the children to learn how to cope with rough surfaces, ours seem to survive okay.

 

If you're having a climbing frame, you could put bouncy stuff under that. But all bouncy stuff seems like too limited a risk to me. To persuade the powers that be, you could talk about how Ofsted want us to focus on 'managing risk' rather than eliminating it.

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Hi - just a quickie but will be interested to follow...I'd only recommend soft surface for youngest age group - not sure if you are dividing area up or keeping as one larger space. I agree with Suzie (we have both which is handy) but once you've committed to soft surface - you're suck with it and it does have problems ...

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I agree with Suzie I would avoid soft surface as much as possible

You can get a surface that looks like those honeycomb door mats grass can grow through but it makes it more durable and all weather.

The designer who worked with us told us soft surface is a hazard in hot weather and icy weather and that it is soon broken down by sand.

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We had the soft surface in our old building (well, the garden!) & had one child fall on it & break her arm in the icy weather. We now have grass which looks ok at the moment but is rapidly being covered by mats for under the climbing frame etc & is wet every morning... What it will look like be the end of the year I don't want to think about.

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http://www.wicksteed.co.uk/playscape-safety-grass-p343.html

 

 

Children who are sheltered from risk and challenge when young will not be able to make judgments about their own capabilities and will not be well equipped to resist peer pressure in their later years. Jennie Lindon warns that: ‘Adults who analyse every situation in terms of what could go wrong, risk creating anxiety in some children and recklessness in others.’ (Lindon, 1999 p10)

Children who learn in their early years to make their own reasoned decisions rather than simply doing what they are told to by others will be in a stronger position to resist the pressures they will inevitably face as they reach their teenage years. In contrast, overprotected children may well make reckless decisions which put them in physical or moral danger.

 

Managing risk and challenge

 

There is a danger that many adults, who are afraid that children might hurt themselves, simply remove objects and equipment rather than teach children how to use them safely. These adults need to get risk into perspective.

 

As Jennie Lindon points out: ‘…no environment will ever be 100% safe. Even well-supervised children manage to hurt themselves, often in unpredictable ways.’ (Lindon, 1999, p9)

 

Additionally, if the environment becomes unstimulating children will inevitably become bored and behaviour will deteriorate. In Learning Outdoors, Helen Bilton highlights that: ‘Without challenges and risks, children will find play areas uninteresting or use them in inappropriate ways, which become dangerous.’ (Bilton, 2005, p73)

Edited by Marion
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We have an area of soft surface for our children just outside out main doors. Would I have it again, the answer would be NO, hot in summer, slippery when wet and an ice rink when the weather gets really cold, sand play fills the surface and this becomes slipppery. Will put down tarmac when able to afford it.

Debbs

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WOW!! Why did I stay away for so long??? Now I need to put this to my new boss. The building is/was used as a church hall and so the grass hasn't been used/trampled on a daily basis yet. Lots to think about and lots to further research. Thank you!

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We had a new building last year and the outside was planned into zones with different surfaces.

 

There is a large Nova Sport spongy rubber area which is great for wheeled toys.

 

Artificial No Mow Grass under the fixed climbing area and role play ship.

 

A large sandy beach area with covered roof and seats.

 

A real grass area with two new trees and raised planting area.

 

A bark area under the trees where there is natural shade.

 

A digging area with compost.

 

A covered wooden deck.

 

I am pleased with all the surfaces and have not experienced the rubber being too hot or slippery.

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Guest pamgreen

Our building is now 3 years old. We have grass and the soft surface. Unfortunately the soft surface gets extremely slippy during the winter when the ground friezes and you cant use the ordinary salt to get rid of the ice.

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Having just completed our smallish outdoor area, with different zones, I would keep the grass everytime. Great for rolling around on in the summer!

 

I'd also have a large outdoor sandpit, interesting pathways, a willow tunnel, a quiet area - ours consists of a horseshoe shaped bench set in a pebbles of varying sizes, and coloured slates and sensory plants, underneath a tree - heavenly. The uneven pebbles/slates allow the children to develop their large muscles because they have to accommodate to the give and take of the surface. Children can access the grass all year round with wellies, waterproof dungarees and coats too.

 

We are luckly in that we also have the use of the school playground.

 

Have fun choosing!

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Artificial No Mow Grass under the fixed climbing area and role play ship.

 

 

One of my neighbours has laid artifical grass in her back garden and it looks great......like the real thing. I wondered how you got on with yours Dorisdarling......does it wear well? Does it really matter if if's not real?

 

Our grass area is very worn and is quick to turn to mud. We have a small wooded area which we shall leave as it is but would love to sort out the grass. Bark has been mentioned at work but I will tell them about the possible cat problem and the other ideas put forward on this thread. Thanks everyone. :o

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Not just a cat issue with bark.. it also needs regularly renewing/ adding to.. so you would need an annual budget for new bark.. and the wind used to blow ours all over the place...

 

had anyone got or tried those loose rubber chips I have seen around recently.?

 

Inge

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One of my neighbours has laid artifical grass in her back garden and it looks great......like the real thing. I wondered how you got on with yours Dorisdarling......does it wear well? Does it really matter if if's not real?

 

:o

 

I just wonder what happens to birds foraging for food, and for the worms and other creepy crawlies underneath the artificial grass?

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We have the soft surface in our outside area and HATE it!

 

We are not allowed to have anything 'messy' on it (paint, sand, gloop, mud etc) as it gets into the 'pores' and clogs it up which makes it incredibly slippery when wet. It gets dull and looks messy very quickly. The leaves stick on it and when wet it is very slippery.

It is under a canopy and gets very hot in the sun, can't have bare feet on it, it gets that hot.

 

Prior to the soft surface we had tarmac and it was sooooooo much better.

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One of my neighbours has laid artifical grass in her back garden and it looks great......like the real thing. I wondered how you got on with yours Dorisdarling......does it wear well? Does it really matter if if's not real?

 

Our grass area is very worn and is quick to turn to mud. We have a small wooded area which we shall leave as it is but would love to sort out the grass. Bark has been mentioned at work but I will tell them about the possible cat problem and the other ideas put forward on this thread. Thanks everyone. :o

Hi DublinBay.

 

I have only had the artificial grass down a few months, but the children love rolling about and just sitting on it.I think it looks great and I am real material, wood block, bin the plastic sort of person! I spent a long time getting samples from several companies. rubber coloured chips and resin block that joined together to make a spongy base.

 

I dismissed the rubber chips as I decided the younger children would pick them up and put them in their mouth or ears!

 

The resin blocks felt rough to touch so the soft grass was the best choice. We used to have just a large real grass area but it was always muddy, had bare patches and generally looked unattractive as a play area.

 

I think as long as you add lots of flowers, mini trees and some natural equipment like old tyres and logs the fake grass blends in well. xD

 

The bark area does need regular maintenance - weeding and brushing back, but the children love filling their diggers with the bark and it blends in well under trees that drop their foliage.

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Hi DublinBay.

I have only had the artificial grass down a few months, but the children love rolling about and just sitting on it.I think it looks great and I am real material, wood block, bin the plastic sort of person! I spent a long time getting samples from several companies. rubber coloured chips and resin block that joined together to make a spongy base.

I dismissed the rubber chips as I decided the younger children would pick them up and put them in their mouth or ears!

The resin blocks felt rough to touch so the soft grass was the best choice. We used to have just a large real grass area but it was always muddy, had bare patches and generally looked unattractive as a play area.

I think as long as you add lots of flowers, mini trees and some natural equipment like old tyres and logs the fake grass blends in well. xD

The bark area does need regular maintenance - weeding and brushing back, but the children love filling their diggers with the bark and it blends in well under trees that drop their foliage.

 

Thanks for these tips Dorisdarling.........lots of options around so hopefully what we decide upon will work well for us. Thanks again. :o

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