A Good Containment Areas Means Less Playground Surfacing Maintenance

In order for your playground to stay safe and beautiful, it requires ongoing maintenance. Just like your vehicle, that too needs regular tune-ups to make sure everything is running smoothly. With numerous children and students constantly tugging, climbing, and sitting on the equipment, regular maintenance makes sure the screws are tight and the equipment is sturdy. But there are some playground best practices that you can follow that will reduce the amount of maintenance required, especially when it comes to playground surfacing.

Playground surfacing is the major player in the safety and aesthetic of your playground. Without reliable playground surfacing, it can quickly increase the amount of work needed to keep your playground in order. 

  • Do you have standing water or pooling in certain areas?
  • Are there weeds invading the playground?
  • Is surfacing being displaced in high traffic areas under swings, slides, and spinner?
  • Is your surfacing compliant with ASTM 1292 and ASTM 1951, do the safety zones comply with ASTM 1487?
  • Is it difficult for your maintenance team to clean up the playground or the area around the borders?

But with playground surfacing, it is not always about the problems you see but about the areas you don’t see. That’s where containment areas come in. A good containment area will properly drain water, contain the surfacing material, and safeguard high traffic areas, while a poor containment area will do little to benefit the integrity of the playground surfacing.

The Consideration of Building a Containment Area

1. Playground Drainage

Is there water flowing into the playground, such as spilling from the building’s roof or large areas of non-permeable surfaces like asphalt and concrete? Should drain tile or a catch basin be incorporated to develop a system for managing the water in and around the playground? Drainage includes controlling the flow of water outside of the playground to eliminate potential damage.

We recommend using rock and drain tile as part of the drainage base. Combined, they have the ability to properly duct water away from the playground surfacing to reduce pooling. To increase the longevity of the containment area, fabric should be added between the drainage base and playground surfacing material, such as wood fiber. This keeps the two layers from mixing together so the wood fiber stays clean and beautiful on the top and the drainage base remains functional on the bottom.

2. Playground Borders

Next is selecting the type of border for your playground. There are 3 common options: concrete, timber, and plastic. Each has its pros and cons and we recommend selecting on a case by case basis.

1. Concrete Borders

Concrete playground borders are a great long-term and fixed solution. But if you plan to remodel or move the playground in the near future, concrete borders are difficult to alter or change as compared to the other options.

2. Timber Borders

Timber or wood playground borders can be a terrific option, as long as you are using a
foundation grade timber. More durable than plastic and less expensive than concrete, these are a great cost-effective option for the short or long term.

3. Plastic Borders

Plastic playground borders are a quick and easy way to keep your playground intact, but they are more susceptible to shattering or breaking when hit by heavy objects or machinery. For example, lawn mower blades or snowplows can easily damage the border if not careful.

Another consideration for containment area borders is deciding the best elevation for the top of your borders. If the area is very wet, place the borders and containment area above grade to keep the area dryer. If the area is well-drained, then level the top of the borders with the surrounding grade to reduce maintenance, which allows you to mow right up to your playground.

3. Playground Mats

The last component of a good containment area is using mats in high traffic areas. Under events, such as swings, slides, or spinners, that children are frequently jumping, landing, or running by, surfacing can easily be displaced. This makes it both unsafe for the children and more work for the maintenance team to rake and level.

By placing mats in these areas, it absorbs the impact without creating a pocket in the ground. Mats reduce the risk of tripping from uneven surfaces when properly installed and fall injuries because they provide a reliable layer of protection by keeping the underlying surfacing in place.

Those are the 3 components to a good containment area but to achieve a great containment area, it’s all about the type of surfacing you use. You can have the best containment area around, but without an equally dependable, long-lasting, and beautiful surfacing, it can only go so far.

Nature’sPlus Is the Key to a GREAT Containment Area

What to ask and look for when selecting a playground surfacing material:

  • What safety features does it include? 
  • Is it resistant to mold and decay?
  • How long does it typically last?
  • What is all included in the surfacing? Are there traces of harmful or unwanted material?
  • How is the surfacing manufactured?
  • Does it meet ADA requirements?

Nature’sPlus surfacing is engineered wood fiber that elevates the traditional standard of playground surfacing. 

  • It is IPEMA certified, meaning it complies with the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association’s standard for safety
  • It is made from Tamarack trees which is naturally resistant to water, decay, and mold
  • It is only made from Tamarack trees and follows a strict manufacturing process to remove all bark, trigs, and leaves before processing. This ensures that Nature’sPlus is 100% tamarack engineered wood fiber containing only live stemwood.
  • It is compliant to ASTM 1292 for fall heights up to 18’ and ASTM 1951 for ADA Accessibility
  • Reduces overall costs associated with maintaining your surfacing because it lasts longer and will require fewer replacements and top offs!

Containment Area: The Base of All Great Playgrounds

The longevity, appearance, and safety of your playground goes beyond what you can see. It’s about the kind of drainage base you use, the border material you select and level, the impact mats that you add, and the type of playground surfacing you use. When you want to reduce the amount of maintenance needed week after week and year after year, you have to start by going below the surface. 

Use this blog as a guideline for understanding and choosing the best containment area for your playground! If you are looking to build a new playground or want to replace an existing containment area, our team can help you out! Let’s chat about your options!