5 Benefits of Artificial Grass for Schools and Nurseries

There are plenty of choices when it comes to playground surfacing but one of the most popular is artificial grass. Ideal for both playgrounds and sports surfaces, it’s become a go-to solution for nurseries, primary and secondary schools. If you are considering installing artificial grass in your school, here, we’ll look at the benefits you’ll receive.

1. Low maintenance surfacing

While there are a lot of good things about natural grass, it requires high maintenance to keep it in good condition and looking after it properly doesn’t come cheaply. During the spring and summer months, grass grows incredibly quickly and to be of any use as a sports or playground surface needs cutting weekly. Paying a gardener to cut large areas of grass consistently throughout the school year can be a significant cost. Artificial grass, on the other hand, never needs cutting and removes this financial burden.

At the same time, natural grass areas can create health and safety issues that need maintenance to reduce risk. Constant use and the effects of weather can lead to uneven or slippery surfaces and raised divots that children can trip over. Again, putting these issues right leads to further maintenance costs.

Heavy traffic is another maintenance issue for grass as it causes the turf to be worn away. It’s easy to spot unsightly pathways across school grassed areas or bald patches in front of the goal on football pitches. If left untreated, the erosion would spread and the soil underneath get worn away until the surfaces become unusable.

Artificial grass is purposely designed to be low maintenance, providing a safe, robust surface that is easy to look after and lasts for years.

 

2. All year, all-weather use

British weather being what it is, there are always times of the year when grassed surfaces become a no-go area. Periods of prolonged or heavy rain can quickly turn a sports field into a quagmire and a safe play area into a slippery hazard zone. There’s an increased risk of injury, soil gets trampled all over the school and PE students and their kit end up caked in mud. In many cases, the PE curriculum will be disrupted and areas of the playground made out of bounds – and it can take days for the grassed areas to dry out.

The weather resistance of artificial grass removes this problem. It won’t stop the children getting cold or wet, nor, unless you have underground heating, will it stop snow from settling; however, for the best part of the year, the surface will remain useable without having to worry about children slipping or getting a mud bath.

3. Increases opportunities for play

Artificial grass has become an integral element of modern playground design used to improve the aesthetics of the playground, creating a stimulating outdoor environment that inspires and motivates children to participate in a wider variety of outdoor play. It can be used to create specific, all-weather play zones and provide more suitable surfaces to surround and put under play equipment.

4. Safer surface for play equipment

The modern school playground makes increasing use of play and outdoor learning equipment. Today, you can expect to see play towers, climbing frames, creativity and roleplay apparatus, sports equipment, messy play areas, nature zones, playground markings plus a wealth of outdoor classroom equipment installed in a schoolyard.

One of the benefits of artificial grass is that it provides additional safety for children using much of this apparatus. This is because it can be installed with a shockpad underlayer that absorbs impact if a child trips or falls and reduces the potential for injury. This makes it the ideal solution for putting underneath equipment like play towers, traversing walls and climbing frames.

5. Put nature where there isn’t any

Many schools simply don’t have any green space available for them to use and this means the children are bereft of nature when playing outdoors. Over the last few years, there has been increasing demand for nature zones to be incorporated into playground designs, often to create a quiet, calming space for children and to improve the provision of science.

Although artificial grass isn’t real nature, it can provide the perfect surface on which to install planters and trellises to create a green zone in your playground. Trellises can be used to grow climbers or shrubs that create living walls and planters can be used to add colourful plants. Add a water feature, a bird feeder and a bug house and the area can be completely transformed. The artificial grass provides a low maintenance, complementary surface that is usable all year round and comfortable to sit on during drier weather.

Conclusion

Artificial grass is a practical solution for school surfacing. It needs little maintenance, can be used all year round, provides safe surfaces for physical activities, increases opportunities for play, improves the aesthetics of the playground and enables the creation of green spaces in places where this is normally difficult to achieve.

For more information, visit our Artificial Grass page.

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All-Weather Outdoor Play, Sports and Learning Solutions for Schools

Wet breaks are something every teacher dreads. Instead of a much-needed cuppa in the staffroom, you’re stuck in class with thirty cooped up kids. It’s noisy, chaotic and stressful. What’s more, it's probably unnecessary. Today, playgrounds can be created that enable suitably dressed pupils to go out in all but the worst weather. Indeed, you can now install surfacing and shelters that let children play, do sports and even learn in an outdoor classroom all year round. Here, we’ll look at the options you can choose.

literacy and phonics

All-year playground surfacing

One of the biggest problems with school playgrounds in bad weather is with the playground surfaces. Grassy areas get muddy, asphalt gets puddles and both become slippery safety hazards. Feet get wet, shoes get caked in mud and someone always gets injured in one way or another.

Those things, however, don’t need to happen. The simple use of grass matting, a form of protective rubber mesh that is placed over the top of grassed areas, prevents the soil underneath from being churned up during wet weather but leaves space for the grass to grow through. The area can be used all year round, without the risk of it turning into a quagmire or the associated hazard of slippage and the cleaning up operation needed to remove thousands of muddy footprints from the corridors and carpets. You’ll also benefit from not having to constantly reseed or even re-turf the grassed areas.

Perhaps more innovative is wetpour surfacing. Made from recycled rubber granules bonded together with resin, this free draining playground surface provides children with an area where surface water quickly drains away, preventing puddles and limiting the chance of ice forming. What’s more, its textured surface provides excellent grip in wet weather, reducing the potential for slippage. Perhaps best of all, however, if children do slip or fall, the absorbent texture of the rubber materials means they’ll have a cushioned landing, minimising the possibility of injury. Resin-bound rubber mulch provides similar protection. If you still want a hard surface for your playground, you can also opt for the fully permeable resin bound gravel. Both this and wetpour surfaces can be used with playground markings and come in a variety of colours.

All-weather sports surfacing

At least when the wet bell goes its only playtime that’s disrupted, for PE teachers, however, bad weather can cause serious disruption to curriculum provision. Besides preventing planned lessons going ahead, bad weather means PE staff have to find alternative lessons to teach, often at very short notice and sometimes without the availability of a suitable indoor space.

All-weather sports surfaces ensure continuity of curriculum delivery in all but the harshest of conditions. The aforementioned wetpour surfacing is an ideal all-weather surface for sports and can be marked out for a wide range of sports pitches and courts, including multi-court markings which can be very helpful for those with limited outdoor space. There are also a number of training markings which can be installed, there’s even a multi-skills zone.

For schools which require a higher-standard of all-weather sports surfacing, artificial grass provides the ultimate solution. Catering for all sports, including football, hockey and netball, they enable PE lessons, extracurricular training and match fixtures to go ahead uninterrupted throughout the year. Various markings are available and the artificial grass is available in different lengths to suit your needs.

The stay-dry outdoor classroom

Outdoor classrooms have become very popular over the last decade with many schools seeing the benefits that open-air learning brings and the advantages of doing more exciting, active lessons where children have the space to move around and make use of the outdoor environment. One of the downsides is that, too frequently, these lessons take place only during the warm spring and summer days and as a result, rather than being scheduled into a scheme of work, they usually only happen on the hoof when there’s a particularly sunny day.

One way to extend outdoor teaching throughout the school year is to install a class-sized shelter. Our octagonal shelters, for example, come with a range of purpose-built features that make them ideal for such purposes. They are roofed, to keep out the rain and provide seating for the whole class, with windbreaker side panels to keep cold breezes off the children’s backs. Benches are provided for seating and these are arranged in an octagonal formation, making them ideal for circle-time activities. The shelters can even come with whiteboards or blackboards preinstalled.

Conclusion

Bad weather can seriously impact day to day school-life, closing down playgrounds, halting PE lessons and preventing outdoor learning from taking place. However, with the right surfacing and shelters, it is possible to make use of your outdoor spaces in all but the harshest of weather conditions.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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6 Types of Playground Flooring Available for Schools

Playground Flooring from ESP Play

Playground flooring is becoming a requirement in school playgrounds more and more.

Today, we have a much greater choice available to us when it comes to playground flooring. There are surfaces which are much safer to play on and which offer a wider range of playground activities. With the right flooring in place, a playground can be transformed into something far more useful for outdoor lessons, PE and break times.

Here are six alternative types of playground flooring you can now choose from.

1. Artificial Grass and Sports Surfacing

Artificial grass can turn your playground from a dull grey desert into a green oasis overnight. It creates a far more pleasant and inviting outdoor space for children to enjoy and, being softer than tarmac or asphalt, it is safer for children to play on. It is ideal for warmer days too, as it is somewhere where children can sit and lay on in the sunshine – something they don’t normally do on uncomfortable and dirty surfaces like Tarmac or asphalt.

Artificial grass also makes great sports surfacing. You can install playground markings on the artificial grass to create a wide range of sports pitches and courts. This gives children the incentive to get involved in physical activities during break times and gives you extra PE facilities at the same time.

Unlike real grass, the artificial variety doesn’t need to be mowed, weeded or reseeded. It doesn’t get muddy, either, so can be used all year round – and it will last for many years.

2.Block Paving

Block paving is a great way to create safe, slip resistant pathways on your playground. It is ideal for use in high-traffic areas, for demarcating boundaries between different sections of your playground and for creating decorative features using its contrasting textures and patterns.

Long lasting and very hard wearing, block paving is an affordable and practical way to safely manage movement in your outdoor spaces.

3. Grass Matting

If you are lucky enough to have a grassed playground area, you’ll know that there can be times when it’s not ideal to let children play on it. It can get slippery and muddy when wet and worn down by overuse. Luckily, there is an excellent solution.

When you lay rubber grass matting over your existing grassed areas, it enables it to be used all year round. Grass matting reduces slippage in the wet, prevents children getting muddy when they land directly on the soil and stops the grass wearing away. The matting can be mowed over just like normal grass, making maintenance easy.

Grass matting is an economical way to improve the grassed areas of your playground, making them safer, letting them be used all year round and reducing the need for reseeding.

4. Resin Bound Gravel

A modern alternative to tarmac or asphalt, resin bound gravel can be used to cover playgrounds or pathways. Made from a combination of aggregate gravel and polyurethane resin, this playground flooring provides a hard and durable surface which, because of its porous properties, is resistant to forming puddles or staying wet on the surface. It also makes a high-quality, easy to use surface for wheelchair access.

5. Rubber Mulch

Available in a variety of colours, rubber mulch is a soft but solid playground flooring material made from recycled rubber pieces bonded together by high-performance polyurethane. The finished result gives an attractive appearance that looks like a natural bark chip surface but, unlike real bark, is fixed in place.

Rubber mulch creates a softer surface that is ideal for playgrounds as it cushions falls, reducing the potential for injury when children are playing.

6. Wetpour Surfacing

Wetpour surfacing is similar to rubber mulch in that recycled rubber is bonded together to create a soft, impact absorbent playground surface. The difference is that wetpour surfaces are smooth and so are more useful for playing games and sports. In addition, a wetpour surface can be used in conjunction with playground markings to create safe and durable sports courts and pitches.

Available in a wide choice of colours, wetpour playground flooring makes it is possible to create your own patterns and designs using a mixture of different colours. This type of surface, common in many public playgrounds and play areas, is ideal for schools. It is free-draining, maintenance free, highly durable and wheelchair friendly. It also makes the perfect surface for schools wishing to install trim trails, climbing frames and other outdoor playground equipment.

Conclusion

As you can see from this post, the choice of playground flooring available to schools today enables you to create far safer environments which are more attractive to play on, can be used for a wider range of sports and activities and which need little or no maintenance. For more details, see our playground flooring and surfacing page.

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Army of 20,000 Volunteers Needed To Boost Outdoor Play

Source – BBC News – By Judith Burns

An army of 20,000 volunteers will be needed for a new initiative to help children play safely outdoors, say campaigners. They will be asked to help build new playgrounds, staff existing ones, run play schemes and street parties. The government has given £2m to help local groups boost outdoor play in their communities. Campaign group Play England says children should be able to play outside after school or in the holidays.

The group’s director Catherine Prisk said: “Playing outside, chalking on the pavement. climbing trees and riding your bike are simple pleasures that many of today’s children are missing out on. “Play is essential for children’s health and happiness now, and for making friends, building key skills for the future and for feeling you are part of a community.”

‘Never climbed a tree’

The money, from the Big Society Fund, will be divided among 17 local and national organisations dedicated to improving facilities and opportunities for play. The organisations will match fund the government award. According to Clare Colvine of Play England, part of the National Children’s Bureau, volunteers will be asked to help according to their skills. “For example one person could be asked to help dig a paddling pool but someone with good web skills might be asked to construct an online map of outdoor play facilities in particular area,” she said.

A growing body of research has found that today’s children do not have the same chances to play outside as their parents. For example a survey published by Play England last year showed that one third of today’s children had never built a den or climbed a tree. One in ten said they had never ridden a bike. Figures from the same survey, conducted by OnePoll last June, revealed that seven out of 10 families felt that taking their children to an outside space to play was a real treat.

Minister for civil society Nick Hurd said: “this is all part of our drive to create a bigger stronger society where people are empowered to make a difference to their community.” The 17 organisations involved have formed the Free Time Consortium which will not only improve play in their own areas but produce resource and information packs for other groups hoping to follow suit.

The consortium includes groups in Tyneside, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Milton Keynes and Plymouth

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