If your playground or activity area is looking dated, dreary and is in need of sprucing up, now’s the perfect time to give your facility a new lease of life. However, depending on what kind of playground surface you have, it’s not always a simple process. Hard standing permanent installations can’t simply be “refreshed” and how do you know when woodchips need an update?
Outdoor playgrounds should be regularly checked to ensure the safety of its users. This involves checking any structures and apparatus for potential risks such as sharp edges or moving parts.
However, this should also extend to checking the surround playground surface. If you’ve got a hard standing, such as rubber mulch or similar, you should inspect areas of high traffic and corners. These areas are where the surface is prone to failing. If you spot areas of high wear or places which may begin to cause a risk, it’s imperative that you put measures in place to fix it.
Playground chip and similar loose materials are much easier to keep an eye on. Due to their loose nature, they will shift and heap during use, this is normal. It’s recommended to check that areas of high traffic (such as bottom of slides, swings and ladders) are not left bare. The good thing about playground chip is that it can simply be raked back into position, without fuss.
However, since playground wood chip is a natural product, after three to four years the product will naturally degrade. No matter how much you rake it around, it won’t provide a good coverage. The degradation is natural and provides valuable nutrients to the surrounding land. However, you will notice less and less material as time goes by.
Roughly three to four years after the playground chip has been installed, you’ll notice that the playground surface looks thinner, less full of colour and provides worse coverage. Safety is paramount here, when the surface can no longer provide a safe play surface and even coverage, it’s time to think about topping it up.
The good news is that playground chip has the benefit of being incredibly easy and incredibly cost effective to refresh. It’s not like other harder materials, like rubberised cement or rubber mulch, which needs to be completely replaced and is made from expensive processes. A 50% top-up every few years with locally sourced woodchips is all you need to keep your playground looking brand new and environmentally friendly. There’s no need to remove all the old material, simply spread the new chips on top of the old for a completely refreshed playground, ready for another three to four years.
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