Gardens are places for children to enjoy as well as grown-ups and in later life, kids will have fond and vivid memories of the games they played and the equipment they had to play on when they were young.
There are so many different types of play apparatus for children these days that you’d need a huge garden to accommodate it all, but once you have decided which types of equipment would be best suited to your kids, the important part is then installing it safely.
There are many companies who specialise in this area. These are the ones which will be called upon to install playground equipment in the local park or at your child’s school playground. Their primary focus has to be on health and safety above all else and, actually, looking around playgrounds in parks and school yards will give you a few ideas of things to include in your own back garden play area. Nevertheless, to get a specialist company in this area to come in and fit your own garden playground can be very expensive and it is possible to do-it-yourself as long as you follow certain safety guidelines.
It’s crucial that you only buy equipment which is age appropriate for your child. Kids have a habit of wanting to try out more dangerous and exciting playground equipment as they often don’t see the dangers – just the potential excitement and because they want to do “what the big kids do”, but you should ignore any nagging from them and make sure that the equipment you do choose is fitting for their age.
If a child can’t reach the equipment properly, then you shouldn’t be looking to install it. There’s also the added problem of having children of different ages and physical capabilities. In this instance, you’ll need to use a combination of danger warnings to the younger children telling them which pieces of equipment they can play on and which are ‘out of bounds’ and there might be some pieces of equipment which have ladder access so you might consider cutting off the bottom rung or two so that the younger child cannot reach it whilst it won’t affect an older child’s enjoyment.
A swing is probably one of the most common and enjoyable pieces of playground equipment for children but can be one of the most dangerous, especially if there are several children playing in the garden. A solid, wooden or metal swing can cause grave damage should a child get in the way of somebody else using the swing. Therefore, although you won’t eliminate the possibility of a youngster being hit by a swing, you should look for a swing that has a soft rubber or canvas seat as it will cause far less injury than a wooden or metal swing if a child accidentally runs into it.
Anchors and Ropes
You need to make sure that any anchor points are firmly held in place so that the equipment has no chance of collapsing when it’s being used. A good idea is to get a much older kid – a teenager perhaps – to try out the equipment and if the anchor points hold up, then it is going to be safe for your little ones. However, once you’ve established that, be sure to carry out routine maintenance on the anchor points regularly and tighten up if necessary because continued use of equipment may cause them to loosen over time.
Also be careful about any ropes that are used to anchor equipment or support a framework and that they are cordoned off in some way so that kids cannot trip up over them whilst they’re running around. Also, look out for other items like hooks on swings and any other points on which a child might catch his or her clothing and adjust if necessary. Other routine maintenance would include checking nuts and bolts where you might have to tighten them or even replace them if they’ve become rusty or worn.
This will be of no interest to your kids but it is probably the most important aspect in the design of a playground. Most playground injuries are caused by tripping up whilst running, falling from equipment and poor landings when getting off equipment.
Therefore, you need to install everything on a synthetic surface which absorbs impact or which is made up of some other kinds of soft material which can cushion a fall better than the likes of concrete or asphalt could. And remember, even your garden’s natural grass surface will be hard too so, if you’re not installing a synthetic surface – the type that often resembles rubber tarmac, then you need to construct one of mulch made up of shredded bark or play sand which you can buy and which is smoother and cleaner than traditional builder’s sand and if you’re using play sand, rake it occasionally to fluff it up and also regularly check it for debris that may have fallen into it.
Your kids will have hours of fun in their playground but keep safety at the very top of your priorities to ensure that when your kids are older, they’ll only look back with memories filled with joy and laughter and not keep reminding you of a trip they had to take to hospital with a broken arm or leg.