Using Artificial Turf for Play Ground Safety
With the ever increasing technology of artificial turf(or more commonly known as fake grass), artificial grass is being used more and more for children’s playgrounds and play areas. Twenty years ago when artificial turf was just starting to be used at homes, (instead of just sports fields), the quality of the artificial grass was not that good, and in did in fact look fake.
Today, artificial turf not only looks very realistic, it is also being installed with safety in mind that is making it very kid and pet friendly. Turf installers are now installing “ fall areas “ underneath the turf, which is basically a cushion type surface that is much softer than the compacted soil that would normally be underneath of the grass surface.
Artificial Turf for Play Grounds. A More Cushioned Surface.
There are several ways to make the turf surface have a softer feel and more cushioned landing zone. One technique is to use a softer blade fiber in the actual turf itself. A mono blade turf fiber has no ridges, so it will be softer to walk on and less abrasive, as opposed to a “W” blade. A W blade will be more rigid and slightly more abrasive to the skin if a fall does in fact occur. Using a thicker, heavier turf blend will also provide more cushion. For example a 90 ounce artificial turf blend will have much more cushion, as opposed to a cheaper 50 or 60 ounce blend, that has less density. Imagine jumping into a thin pile of leave as opposed to a thick pile of leaves. Naturally the thicker pile of leaves would provide more fall safety.
Artificial turf installers today also use a foam type material underneath of the actual artificial grass. The foam material is usually about 1 to 2” thick and is a light density foam. The density cannot be too thick as water would not be able to drain through it as easily. The foam is usually made from recycled materials and is usually rated to make sure it meets or exceeds fall safety standards.
Pictured below is what typical fall safety padding would look like
Photo below is the standard layering when using Fall safety Cushion Products when installing underneath of Artificial Grass. A heavier weighted artificial turf is on the top layer, followed by a 2” pad to absorb the impact of a fall.The very bottom layer is crushed gravel,that water can easily drain into in the event of a torrential down pour.
There is actually a safety organization that monitors that different safety materials that are used. This organization is known as, “, or the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s association. IPEMA is a non-profit, membership, trade association, that works alongside the government in promoting safety, helping manufacturers develop safer products, and communicating to parents and teachers the importance of safety in play areas.
Play Ground Safety Statistics
Statistics show that over 200,000 kids are injured every day while playing in play areas. Play grounds with play equipment such as sliding boards, climbing devices, swing sets, ladders etc, pose even a greater risk of falling type injuries, so it is important to have a soft landing surface to try and prevent injuries.
There are other surfaces that a home owner can use when building their play area. Sand, pea gravel, bark mulch and wood chips are a few different options to use as a soft landing area for a play ground. Some companies actually use rubber mulch or rubber matting as surface for play areas. The problem with rubber however, is it can easily absorb the heat from the sun which results in a very hot surface temperature.
The great thing about using artificial turf for a play ground surface, is the homeowner can maintain a natural look in his yard, and a have a beautiful green lawn year round. Also, organic infill can be dispersed into the grass fibers, which keeps the surface temperature cool, and also acts as a deodorizer if the homeowner happens to have a dog. Often times wet dog smells, saliva or urine from a pet may cause odors o the surface. By using artificial turf, infill can be easily added which will help eliminate and neutralize any pet odors.
In closing, using artificial turf as a play ground surface is probably the best option. It looks great, drains 25 times faster than regular grass, is soft to the touch and can have a very soft landing zone underneath. In the event of a rain storm, there will be no more puddles or mud that can be tracked into the house.