This is easily the most mundane thread you'll read today... but does anyone have an opinion on the best surface for an outdoor play area for small children? At the moment it's bare mud, I want to put a little climbing frame/seesaw/swing on it, but don't know whether to turf it/use grass seed/buy woodchips.
WE've got woodchip (as we had a pile of trees chopped down and a neighboured chipped them for us). Disadvantages are you have to prepare a "box" to hold it or it gets everywhere - and put liner down so the weeds don't come through. This is more expensive. Also, it gets disturbed by the child's feet on swing / slide and needs to be raked back into place occasionally.
However, it looks tidy and soft for them to fall on.
Grass'll be cheaper - but if you use seed you'll need to wait before they can use it. Also, you will end up with a bare mud patch under swing, base of slide etc.
all three are fine to play on
turf is pricey and must be laid properly but looks great instantly, and can look like a grownup garden rather than a park if you want to have a barbecue etc in it.
grass seed is a pain in the bum, I've never been patient enough to go through with it
Bark chips are dead easy to lay, low maintenace, and don't get 'worn bits' but you need an anti-weed sheet thing underneath them. Also the kids will pick them up and eat them / throw them at each other etc, and they're not v comfy to sit on if you have a picnic.
(NB hope they're out there making the most of the bare mud at the moment - nothing seems to be a substitute for mud pies...)
we have intimidated our local cats to such an extent that they don't come close any more (supersoakers at the ready...)
think they like it more sheltered where they poo, so is more of an issue if you have bark on flower beds etc rather than on wide open spaces.
Another alternative is the bouncy tiles made from recycled tyres ! We have laid them in our dd's play garden and they are fab ! In fact she flew off her swing last week and didn't even cry ! Bounced a bit mind you !
Got them from B&Q by the way. Great in all weathers - don't need any maintenance and cat's ignore them !
Yes the tiles look like playgrounds - but usually the playgrounds have the stuff that is poured in - so no seams unlike the tiles. They look like fresh tarmac - iykwim - but are bouncy ! We have red ones and black ones - they were the same price. I know you can also get ones with animal pics on - but they were quite a bit more expensive - but nice as a one off for end of slide or the such.
Tried sand once - don't do it ! Also tried bark and it got trod everywhere - all over the rest of the garden and into the house ! And Yes - cats do poo in it !
We got turf done twice. Our garden used to have red chips and we wanted turf so that DS could crawl about. Due to rubbish drainage, we ended up going back to having stones. DS is 3.5 so no need for crawling.