Having a soft landing on a playground is pretty much a necessity. If you remember from your childhood, doing flips off the monkey bars and jumping from the highest point on the swings were all the favourite, yet dangerous, activities of the time.
These activities are also essential to children’s development, with a great deal of mental, physical, and social development occurring during the breaks on the playground field. So, ensuring that the kids want to use the playground equipment is important for more than just maintaining a quiet classroom after the break.
In fact, these play activities help to create neural pathways within the brain that are essential for developing functions like fine motor control, and recognition of spatial awareness or depth perception.
Ensuring that an appropriately soft surface is used to break the impact when children fall, run, or jump on the playground helps to keep the kids safe, and happy, and develop those necessary skills for later life.
Many playgrounds have an initial surface like a rubber mat to help absorb some impact as well as keep the playground clean and dry. However, what’s more important is the undersurface material, the packing material that creates the resistance to impact and cushioning effect that a playground needs.
There are several qualities to look for in an undersurface material to decide whether or not it’s likely to work as an undersurface material on a playground. For starters, the material needs to be soft and free from anything sharp. This helps to prevent injury from cuts or abrasions under the rubber mat.
Secondly, the undersurface material also needs to have the right amount of compression vs resistance. This will give the playground the ability to spread the force of impact across the ground, resulting in injury being much less likely or severe.
This is quite a complicated bit of physics to get right, with the material needing to be soft enough that it can bend and absorb impact, but strong enough that it doesn’t get crushed and crumple too quickly. This also impacts how much the material can move about under the surface, and prevents the build-up of dips or ridges that could go unseen and cause serious harm.
Finding a material with the right amount of resistance to compression and the right amount of softness is quite a difficult task, and left to your own devices it might take you some time. Luckily, in both Australia and New Zealand, the government has already come up with a list of certified materials that work well as undersurface materials.
These materials have to be able to align with the appropriate safety standards as set out in AS/NZS 4422. This means that when you need to find a new material for your playground, you have a handy list of materials that already suit the bill.
If we were to choose our favourite from the list of certified undersurface materials, it would have to be the playground mulch (also known as the premium soft fall mulch) from Gembrook Garden Supplies.
This material is made out of 100% pine wood chips and is both soft enough that it won’t hurt the sensitive feet of small children and strong enough that it can hold the weight and impact of older children travelling at high speeds around the playground.
This product also has the benefit of being completely sustainable as it is made entirely from pine plantation wood. These woods are cut for timber and are replanted each time to ensure that deforestation doesn’t occur. Simultaneously, the wood chips are gathered to be used as playground mulch, sort of like recycling.
Another benefit of the soft fall mulch is that as it’s compressed over time by use, it can be easily and simply refilled.
Soft fall mulch is a beneficial mulch available from Gembrook Garden Supplies. They also have dozens of other garden supplies from mulches to rocks and pebbles, which gives you anything you need to make a suitable playground landscape.
Gembrook Garden Supplies are also open 6 days a week and have expert and knowledgeable staff who can help to make sure you meet your safety requirements with accredited materials for playgrounds, and maintain those safety requirements with regular deliveries of materials for upkeep.
Delivery of a safe playground has never been easier than with playground mulch from the expert team at Gembrook Garden Supplies. For a quote, or to touch base about other projects around the school or play area, get in touch with our friendly team today! We can be reached in person at our Gembrook location or contacted via phone at (03) 5967 7070.