Comparing Synthetic Turf for Playgrounds vs. Other Surfacing Options

May 21, 2024 FieldTurf Landscape
Building an amazing playground involves more than just the swings and slides. The surface is a vital piece of the puzzle. It can affect everything...
Synthetic Grass Play Area Surface

Building an amazing playground involves more than just the swings and slides. The surface is a vital piece of the puzzle. It can affect everything from a playground’s safety to how much work it takes to maintain it. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of popular choices—concrete, natural grass, mulch, and synthetic grass—so you can make the most informed decision for your space.

Concrete for Playgrounds

Let’s start with the classic choice: concrete. It offers durability, low maintenance, and a flat, predictable surface for activities like wheeled toys. 

However, its unforgiving hardness significantly increases the risk of injuries from falls. Concrete also lacks visual appeal and doesn’t contribute to the natural feel of a playground environment.

It also contributes to the heat island effect with its heat absorption making surrounding areas hotter. Over time, cracks and damage are inevitable, leading to potentially expensive repairs.

  • Pros:
    • ● Extremely Durable
    • ● Minimal Upkeep
    • ● Smooth Surface for Some Activities
  • Cons:
    • ● High Risk of Injury From Falls
    • ● Visually Unappealing
    • ● Contributes Little to a Natural Play Environment

Natural Grass for Playgrounds

Natural grass provides a familiar, soft feel underfoot and offers a connection to nature.  However, the realities of playground wear and tear often make it a less-than-ideal choice.  

For instance, high foot traffic quickly wears away grass, creating bare patches and potential tripping hazards.  Weather heavily influences its condition – rain creates muddy patches, while drought leads to dry, uneven ground.  

Beyond these challenges, natural grass requires high maintenance through regular mowing, watering, and reseeding. It can also harbor pests like ticks and mosquitoes, and its pollen can trigger allergies in some children.  

  • Pros:
    • ● Soft Underfoot
    • ● Natural, Green Aesthetic
  • Cons:
    • ● Wears Quickly, Needs Frequent Reseeding
    • ● Requires Intensive Maintenance (mowing, watering)
    • ● Becomes Muddy After Rain
    • ● Patchy and Uneven in Dry Weather

Playground Mulch

Shredded wood, bark, or recycled rubber mulch offers a visually appealing and affordable alternative. While it absorbs some impact, mulch decomposes over time, requiring constant replenishment. 

Loose mulch creates uneven surfaces and tripping hazards. Small pieces can also choke young children, requiring close supervision. 

Certain wood mulch splinters; depending on the material, mulch attracts insects.

  • Pros:
    • ● Affordable
    • ● Better Shock Absorption Than Concrete
    • ● Natural Appearance
  • Cons:
    • ● Requires Regular Replenishment
    • ● Can Be a Choking Hazard
    • ● Some Types Cause Splinters
    • ● Attracts Insects

Synthetic Turf for Playgrounds

Unlike natural grass, synthetic turf features an underlayment designed to absorb the impact of falls while protecting the turf itself. No matter your playground’s traffic and usage level, artificial grass remains consistent throughout the year, unlike mulch or dirt that can compact or become uneven.

Synthetic grass also eliminates the worry of mud patches or brown spots that plague natural grass, especially after rain or during dry spells.  

The low maintenance aspect is another significant benefit – a simple rinse removes dirt or debris, freeing up time and resources for other aspects of your playground. 

While the initial investment can be higher than some other options, its long lifespan and minimal upkeep can balance that out in the long term.  

  • Pros:
    • ● Excellent Shock Absorption for Fall Safety
    • ● Consistent,Non-Compacting Cushioning
    • ● Maintains Vibrant Appearance Year-Round
    • ● Requires Minimal Maintenance
    • ● Durable and Long-Lasting
  • Cons:
    • ● Higher Initial Investment
    • ● Safety Features Like Playground Turf Padding Cost Extra

Book a Free Consultation

Building a playground shouldn’t be a guessing game– especially when it comes to the surface. Your choice has a lasting impact on the safety, fun, and overall experience of your play area. 

If you’re searching for an option that’s as safe as it’s tough and beautiful, with minimal headaches to boot, consider playground turf installation.Learn more by calling us at 866-352-4575 today or messaging us to book a free consultation with a FieldTurf Landscape expert!

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