5 Reasons Why Schools Should Install Artificial Grass

Real grass is great. It’s comfortable to sit on, easy to play on and ideal for sports. However, it has its drawbacks and for schools that like grass surfaces, artificial grass provides the same benefits but without any of the issues that grass causes. Need convincing? Then read on and we’ll explain why, for schools, artificial grass is better.

1. It’s less expensive to maintain

While we all love the smell of freshly cut grass, no-one likes it better than the company that gets paid to cut it. And grass needs cutting regularly, particularly in spring and summer and especially if you need it keeping short to play sports on.

Besides regular mowing, there’s also a need for regular maintenance. With hundreds of children running all over it every day, real grass gets worn away. You’ll find bare patches and unplanned footpaths appearing in the areas that are most heavily used. On top of that, there are issues caused by moss, weeds and periods of drought which can cause the grass to die off and need reseeding.

All of this maintenance can be expensive. Indeed, if mega-rich sports clubs have shifted to artificial grass because the natural variety is costly to maintain, then it’s certainly something that cash-strapped schools could benefit from.

Artificial grass doesn’t need cutting and is made from highly durable materials that last for years. Unlike natural grass, which gets worn away, it is designed for regular, heavy use.

2. It's cleaner

Artificial Grass - ESP Play

One of the big issues with real grass is that it needs soil to grow in. When soil mixes with rain and gets churned up by all those feet, the result is mud. Mud, unfortunately, gets everywhere. It sticks to children’s shoes and they trample it all through the school where it dries and forms a layer of dirt that blankets everything. That sparkling corridor that the cleaner polished the night before looks like it hasn’t seen water in years by the end of morning break.

The result of mud is children’s clothes getting dirty, PE lessons having to finish early so pupils can get cleaned up and the expense of having to clean the floors so regularly. Without mud, floors take less time to clean and this means schools could reduce cleaning costs over the year.

The advantage of artificial grass is that there is a self-draining barrier between the surface and the soil underneath which prevents mud from being formed; as a result, your school and your pupils will be cleaner.

3. An all-weather surface

The other disadvantage of mud is that it prevents children from playing on the grass after a downpour. Not only do the children get muddy feet but they are also liable to slip and injure themselves. Muddy pitches also put a stop to many PE activities, forcing teachers to abandon their plans and seek indoor alternatives, which isn’t good when they have a scheme of work to complete and there’s a shortage of available indoor space.

With artificial grass, this doesn’t need to happen. The lack of soil means It doesn’t get muddy, its self-draining properties prevent pools from forming and because it’s laid over an impact-absorbing layer, it doesn’t freeze rock solid in winter. Not only does this mean schools can get much more use out of artificial grass surfacing than from real grass; it also ensures that the surface is always usable, enabling them to stick to their plans, come rain or shine.

4. It's safer to use

Artificial grass is safer than real grass in a number of ways. One way is that it reduces allergies. Quite a few people have grass allergies, some are allergic to its pollen, others develop rashes just by touching it and there are those that are allergic to the moulds which are dispersed when grass is cut. Replacing real grass with artificial grass eradicates the causes of these allergic reactions.

As artificial grass has an impact-absorbing underlayer, it also reduces the chances of children being seriously injured if they fall or slip when at play. This makes it great as a surface onto which you can install other outdoor play equipment, such as climbing frames and Trim Trail obstacle courses.

The protective layer also prevents sharp stones or bits of glass that have been buried in the soil rising to the surface where they have the potential to cause injury. And if a pupil does have a cut or scrape, there won’t be any soil getting into the wound, reducing the chance of infection.

5. It always looks great

As a school, you always want your outdoor spaces to look inviting for your pupils to play on. While natural grass can look fantastic when it’s in good condition and has been recently trimmed, its appeal can waver. It can turn brown, grow mossy, develop bald-patches, become unkempt and look like a wet weekend at Glastonbury Festival.

Artificial grass keeps its looks all year round, perfectly green and immaculately trimmed, making it look inviting for the children and appealing to visitors.


As you can see, while there are lots of reasons to love real grass, if you are a school, artificial grass might be more of a fit. It’s cheaper to maintain, cleaner and safer. What’s more, it can be used in all weathers and looks great all year round.

For more information about our range of artificial grass surfaces, check out our artificial grass page.


6 Key Elements of the Modern School Playground

Playgrounds have moved on a lot over the last few years. Like blackboards in classrooms, old fashioned asphalt schoolyards have been consigned to the annals of history. Today’s playgrounds use modern surfacing materials, have places for outdoor seating and eating, provide areas for shelter and are equipped for fun, sport and relaxation. To give a more detailed overview, here are the six key elements of a modern playground.

1. Modern surfacing materials

The surface of your playground is one of its most important elements. Get it right and you have a space that can be used all year round and for a wide variety of purposes. A good surface needs to be safe, easy to look after, durable and something that is good for children to play on. At the same time, it needs to be matched to any other equipment you want to install.

For most of the 20th Century, asphalt has been the standard material used for playground surfacing, however, this is now being replaced by more modern and superior materials. Two of the main reasons are that, like tarmac, it is expensive to maintain and its hard surface is a frequent cause of injuries, such as nasty scrapes or broken bones. Its hardness makes it particularly unsuitable for using underneath the climbing equipment that many schools are now installing.

Today, you are more likely to see schools using a wider variety of playground surfaces, each one fulfilling a different purpose. For example, wetpour surfacing, with its cushioned protection, is ideal for younger children and for placing under raised equipment from which children may fall. Softer surfacing also comes in the form of rubber mulch and there’s also artificial grass, which is great for sports. If you have real grass, you can protect it from erosion and stop it from becoming a quagmire by installing grass matting over the top. If you still need hard surfaces in places, resin bound gravel is a more durable and better alternative to asphalt.

2. Places for sitting and eating

All children will want to spend some time sitting down chatting to friends during break times and, at lunchtimes, there are those with packed lunches who’d prefer a spot in the open air to a cramped and busy canteen.

These simple pleasures are easy and inexpensive to cater for and you’ll find that in a modern playground, a sitting and eating zone is usually provided. There is a range of playground seating you can install, including wooden benches and picnic tables, as well as individual seats and even mini amphitheatres where larger groups of friends can chat together.

3. Providing shelter

Bad weather playtimes, when the kids are kept indoors, aren’t much fun for staff or pupils. While outdoor shelters won’t be usable in the worst of the weather, they can help reduce the number of indoor breaks you need. More importantly, playground shelters help those children who feel the cold to have somewhere dry and which offers some protection from those chilly winds. Equipment includes everything from large, octagonal shelters with decked floors and built-in seating, to pergolas and sail shades. For younger children, there are also play huts and dens.

4. Invest in a nature area

All of us benefit from the calming influence of nature and providing a little bit of greenery to your playground can make a big difference to the children’s moods. If you haven’t got the luxury of your own green area, there are ways to introduce a bit of park life into an industrial looking playground. With planters, trellises and artificial grass, you can grow shrubs and flowers to create your own nature and garden zone. You can even add bug houses and bird boxes. It’s the ideal solution for kids who need some relaxation after challenging lessons in a busy classroom.

5. Fun and games

It’s hard to have fun when you’re shoved out into a blank quadrangle of grey asphalt. However, by installing the right equipment, you can create a vibrant outdoor space that provides lots of fun opportunities for children of all interests.

One of the most affordable options is to install playground markings. There are specific fun and games markings that enable children to play both traditional and modern playground games. There are even designs to encourage role play, such as our roadway markings which comes complete with a roundabout, parking spaces and a zebra crossing.

You may be more familiar with sports markings which can be used both at playtimes and for PE lessons. These create the pitches pupils need to play football, netball and basketball, plus a range of other popular sports.

6. Equipment children love

What gets the biggest thumbs up from pupils is when you install the types of equipment found in public playgrounds. Today’s children want exciting things to play on, like climbing equipment and its now possible to install these in schools. And with items such as Trim Trails obstacle courses, Free Flow climbing frames, traversing walls, play towers and even parkour equipment, you’re bound to give your pupils the ultimate, playtime fun.

Not only are these pieces of equipment designed for safety; they also get the children to become more active during their free time and help develop a wide range of social and learning skills.

There is also a lot of fun equipment designed especially for younger children, such as outdoor musical instruments, mud kitchens and splashy water and sand equipment.


If you are looking to bring your playground into the 21st Century, hopefully, the points we have discussed here will help you see what the main features of a modern school playground are. With modern surfacing, places for sitting and eating, shelter from the rain and wind, natural areas for those who need to relax and exciting areas for those who need to burn off steam, today’s school playground genuinely caters for the needs of children when they are outdoors.

If you are looking to modernise your school playground, check out our range of products or look at our free playground design service.


4 Reasons to Change Your Playground Surfacing

A lot of schools still use traditional playground surfacing like asphalt or tarmac, however, over time and with constant use they degrade: edges crumble, busy pathways wear away and bare patches begin to appear. Surfacing materials like loose gravel and bark mulch also deteriorate. Paying for regular repairs and maintenance that can leave your playground looking like a patchwork quilt is not always the cost-effective solution. Modern playground surfacing uses materials that are safer, longer lasting and better value for money. In this post, we’ll look at four reasons why it might be time to change your playground surfacing.

1. Your current playground surface is a safety hazard

Safeguarding has to be at the top of any school’s list of priorities and this includes making sure your playground doesn’t put children at risk. If there are obvious signs that your current surface is becoming defective, it may become a safety hazard.

Defective surfacing can cause children to trip or slip, risking broken bones or head injuries. Loose gravel is not only slippery but can also be sharp and break the skin. Materials like bark mulch, which is biodegradable, can cause splinters when it begins to break down and if it is harbouring fungi or unsavoury microbes, could cause an infection.

Besides the risk of injury, there are financial implications, too. As many schools will testify, there are quite a lot of parents today who will head straight to the solicitors if their child gets hurt in the playground. A tumble on the tarmac often results in a significant settlement.

2. Playground maintenance has become expensive

Another reason you may want to change your playground surfacing is if you are continually having to spend a lot of money on its upkeep. Resurfacing tarmac or asphalt doesn’t come cheaply, even if you are only patching specific areas. If this is happening constantly, that money could be more wisely spent on a safer and longer lasting solution that won’t need so much maintenance. The same applies to re-gravelling or replenishing bark mulch.

There are hidden savings to be made from investing in a better surface too. For example, a safer surface may reduce your liability insurance costs. You may also cut down the number of hours that your caretaking staff need to spend looking after your surfacing. Bark, for example, get easily blown around creating potential slip hazards. By replacing it, it won’t need to be swept up every time it gets a little windy.

3. Better surfaces, cleaner schools

Many traditional surfaces can be dirty, especially in the rain; particularly areas surfaced with grass or soil which become muddy after they have been trampled on by a swarm of school kids. Of course, when the bell goes, all this dirt gets brought into school.

Mud left by one child quickly becomes a trip hazard for those following behind, especially on stairs or tiled flooring. You also end up with a completely messy floor, littered with pale grey footprints, that your caretaking staff will need to spend time cleaning and polishing after school. Of course, when the mud dries, all those tiny bits of grit are going to scrape the shine off your newly varnished wooden floors, shortening the amount of time the varnish will last. If you have carpets, they too are going to get dirty and will need cleaning more regularly.

Modern surfacing is much cleaner and whilst it won’t fully eradicate every piece of dirt that gets brought into school, it can help reduce it, meaning less wear and tear of your indoor flooring and less time needed to keep it clean.

4. Your playground is a dreary space

When children play together, especially in larger numbers, there is more opportunity for them to develop important social skills. Many of the markings used for sports and games will help pupils with key skills such as turn taking, patience, respect for others and empathy.

At the same time, children will need to interact in order to play together or when asking other children for a turn on a game. This will help them become better negotiators and improve their ability to resolve disputes. It can also lead to new friendships.

Is it time for a change?

Great playground surfacing can revitalise your outdoor environment. Surfaces can be created from a range of materials and colours and come with a wide range of playground markings that create sports pitches and games areas.

There are several examples of modern surfacing that are worth a mention. A highly popular solution is Wetpour surfacing. Wetpour is a soft surface that is very effective in reducing injury from falls. It’s ideal for putting under climbing equipment or for areas where children are involved in active play. What’s more, it’s long lasting, colourful and can be created in a range of intricate designs.

If you currently use bark mulch on your play areas, a safer, cheaper and longer lasting alternative is to use rubber mulch. Made from recycled tyres, this coated, shredded rubber comes in a range of colours and can even look like natural bark. However, unlike bark, it’s bound together, so it doesn’t get blown away, can’t get chucked around and doesn’t rot.

If you need a hard surface, then a much better alternative to asphalt or tarmac is resin bound gravel, a highly attractive surface with a smooth finish using naturally coloured stones bonded together using resin. Tough, long-lasting and available in a range of colours, it’s the ideal hard surface.

If you want grassy areas that don’t get muddy, there are two other surfacing options. You can cover existing grassed areas in grass matting or you can replace your natural grass with artificial grass. This is great for sports areas and comes with the advantage of never needing to be watered, fed or mowed.

For more information about all our surfaces, check out our playground surfacing page.


5 Benefits of School Playground Markings

Are you looking for an affordable and effective way to breathe new life into a tired school playground? If you are, then playground markings may be the ideal solution. Inexpensive, easy to install and long-lasting, there are countless designs you can choose from and they bring many benefits to the school and the pupils.

Improving health and fitness

According to the NHS, children aged five to eighteen should have at least one hour of physical activity every day. Achieving this, however, is proving difficult. Many children don’t get regular exercise at home, PE time in school is limited, many schools have short lunch breaks with little time to play and lots of children aren’t active during free time.

The key to improving the health and fitness of your students is in getting them to be active during the limited time they are in the playground. For those with budgets that can’t stretch to climbing equipment or an outdoor gym, playground markings are the cost-effective option.

Installing sports markings, for example, can motivate large numbers of children to participate in team sports such as netball, football or basketball. There is also a wide range of markings designed especially for fun and games. There’s everything from mini roadways, to footwork chess, to a variety of hopscotch games.

Better PE provision

When schools install sports markings, they are getting resources that have a dual purpose. Not only can they helpful for getting children active, they can also be used for PE. The markings for pitches, mentioned above, can be used to extend the variety of sports that the school can teach. There are markings for football, futsal (five-a-side soccer), netball, basketball, cricket, tennis and rounders. If you are short of space, you can even install a multi-court which overlays different pitch markings in different colours.

In addition, there is a selection of physical skills markings that can be used, these can help with footwork, balance, agility, target practice, hurdles, bouncing and catching, etc. You can even set up a multi-skills zone.

Extending learning beyond the classroom

There are now playground markings designed to enhance the academic curriculum. Children love to play on these bright and attractively designed markings during break times and they can also be incorporated into outdoor lessons.

For literacy, there are markings such as alphabet targets, footwork vowels, letter steps and phonetic spots. For maths, there are 1-100 number grids, shapes and ladders, number arches, matrices and clock targets. For other subjects, you can choose from compass hopscotch, compass rings and weather markings.

At ESP Play, we even have markings designed to help younger children with road safety. These include mini roadways, zebra crossings, traffic lights, roundabouts (with direction arrows) and a mini car park.

Developing social skills

When children play together, especially in larger numbers, there is more opportunity for them to develop important social skills. Many of the markings used for sports and games will help pupils with key skills such as turn taking, patience, respect for others and empathy.

At the same time, children will need to interact in order to play together or when asking other children for a turn on a game. This will help them become better negotiators and improve their ability to resolve disputes. It can also lead to new friendships.

Improving behaviour

According to Public Health England, physical activity has a direct link with classroom behaviour. Some of the main benefits you can achieve through helping children become more active are improved social behaviour, better peer relationships and reduced classroom disruption.

Through installing playground markings, schools are able to increase activity rates and reduce the boredom that often causes problems to start. A recent study by Leeds Metropolitan University of the effects of our playground installations in 167 schools found they increased pupil activity levels by 14%. There was also an 11% improvement in citizenship.

As a result of using playground markings, schools should see pupil behaviour improve and benefit from the increased attainment that comes from a less disruptive classroom. Better behaviour, both in the classroom and the playground, is also something that will please Ofsted inspectors, parents, staff and pupils.


Not every school has the resources to finance large-scale playground equipment. Budgets are tight, grants are not always available, and it can be difficult to raise the money through the PTA. However, that doesn’t mean upgrading your playground is a no-go project. Playground markings are an affordable solution that can transform your outdoor space and the activities that go on there. They can make pupils happier, healthier, socially more adept and improve behaviour. In addition, they can extend your PE provision and take learning out of doors.

For more information, check out our full range of playground markings, or call us on 01282 43 44 45.


Practical Solutions to Help Schools Teach PE in the Playground

For schools with limited outdoor space, it can be difficult to find the room to have a playground and somewhere dedicated to teaching PE. However, there are solutions and these come from turning your playground into a multi-use space that can be permanently equipped for both PE and play. In this post, we’ll look at a number of the possible solutions you can use.

Starting from the ground up

When planning your multi-use outdoor playground/PE space, you need to consider the ways the surface will be used during both lessons and break times. You obviously want something which will be safe for all kinds of activities and which lends itself to the wide number of activities you may wish to teach.

There are a number of possible playground surfacing solutions here. One of the most popular options is wetpour surfacing which gives a cushioned rubber surface that protects against injury but still has the necessary firmness to play all kinds of sports. Alternatively, you can opt for artificial grass which is ideal for sports and never needs cutting.

Defining the sports pitches and courts

Once you have established the best type of playground surfacing for your needs, the next stage of the process is to look at the type of sports your PE curriculum covers. If possible, you should try and dovetail this to match the kinds of sports your pupils will to want to play during breaktimes. Finding common ground here, will enable you to provide facilities which children will get the most benefit from.

After making your decision, you can then select the necessary playground markings to have installed. There is a wide variety to choose from and they are all suitable for the surfaces mentioned above and can also be installed on your existing hard surfaced playground. Here at ESP Play, we can provide the markings for football, futsal (five-a-side football), netball, rounders, basketball, tennis and cricket. For those particularly short of space, it is possible to create a multi-sports area by overlaying markings for different sports using different colours.

These markings enable PE staff to teach these sports whilst letting children have the fun of playing them during break times.

Choose playground markings for skills training

There is also a wide range of markings available for teaching important physical skills. These can be used for improving balance, endurance, coordination, footwork, hurdles, and a range of ball skills. Our ‘Famous Five’ multi-skills markings are a particular favourite amongst PE teachers.

Equip your playground

After selecting your markings, you can then proceed to equip your multi-use playground for your selected sports. This sports equipment includes goals (with nets or recesses), basketball and netball hoops. In addition, there is multi-sports equipment, such as our combined football - hoop units which are ideal for football, five-a-side, hockey, netball and basketball.

There is also a range of equipment that can be used for training and even for additional sports. These include freestanding ball catchers, ball walls for practicing football, tennis and cricket, and a range of colourful wall targets. There are even climbing walls.

Add features for developing strength and stamina

A key purpose of PE is to develop the physical fitness of your pupils. At the same time, we all want to encourage pupils to be more active during breaktimes. One of the ways to achieve both these aims is to add an outdoor gym section to your playground.

At ESP Play, we have the ideal solution in the AllGo+ Gym. This is a safe to use, outdoor gym that uses body weight only to help pupils develop their strength and stamina. It’s ideal for fitness classes, circuit training and for children to use during their free time. It can also be hired out to local fitness groups.

The equipment provided in the AllGo+ range includes monkey bars, circle steps, press up bars, leg risers, flat and inclined sit-up benches, step up stations and fast feet floor markings.     

Curriculum resources

Of course, if you are developing your playground to use for outdoor PE, you may also need some curriculum resources as well. The resources currently available include a range of interchangeable activity boards. You can choose from a plain whiteboard or ones which are designed for specific activities, such as yoga, dance, movement, skills keywords and a scoreboard.


As you can see, if your short of space for PE and need to use your playground, it is possible to do so. What’s more, equipping your PE space in the right way can make a huge difference to the range of activities your pupils can do during breaktimes. This can help motivate them to become much more active and healthier whilst having fun at the same time.

Hopefully, the ideas here will help you understand what you can do in your playground. Here at ESP Play, we have everything you need to create your multi-use PE area/playground from the ground up. For more information, take a look at our sports equipment.