Natural playground design

The Benefits of Natural Play Equipment in New Estates

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Natural play equipment offers more than you might think. Traditionally, new housing estates have been built to a certain formula where the available space is filled solely with buildings and with little thought of incorporating more than the minimum green space, usually in the form of a lifeless patch of grass.

Thankfully this is now changing with more enlightened local authorities setting out recommendations relating to the importance of developing public open spaces and play environments. The National Planning Policy Framework (2012) requires developers to provide the ‘appropriate amount of and mix of public open space provision.’ And we think natural play equipment fits with this perfectly.

metal monkey barsEnhancement to Quality of Life

Developers and local authorities are at last waking up to the advantages of green spaces and play areas and the benefits to public health, particularly the health of our children. With the loss of so many school sports fields over recent decades opportunities for children to enjoy healthy outdoor play has diminished. Not least is the benefit to wildlife when areas of green space are created with the health of our ecological system in mind.

Natural Outdoor Play Equipment for Health Benefits

We have always known that outdoor play is the best route to good health for children. Every child should have the chance to play outdoors in the fresh air and in a safe environment and thankfully future developments will incorporate open, healthy green spaces where children can play on natural outdoor play equipment and explore the surroundings.

Natural play equipment

Abolish the Plastic

Now that developers are legally obliged to incorporate designated play areas into new estates, with clear guidance set out for how this should be done, there is a wonderful opportunity to embrace the benefits of natural play equipment. Where outdoor play equipment has been provided in the past this has usually taken the form of cheap, mass-produced plastic items designed with a limited shelf-life. Modern outdoor play equipment made from durable, sustainable and safe hardwood timber and long-lasting stainless steel is not only good to look at it is environmentally friendly and eco-conscious too. Today’s families are all too aware of the damage plastics are doing to the planet and want local authorities and developers to plan new estates with sustainability in mind.

Rubber Mulch safety surface

Safety First and Foremost

Children will always find ways to injure themselves and past playground developments have undoubtedly been far from the safest places for children to play. With this in mind safety surfacing is incorporated into wooden outdoor playgrounds which is not only less likely to cause serious injury but also fulfils the obligation to enhance and protect the natural environment. These safety surfacing options include grass mats and rubber mulch. Both of which are made from recycled rubber tyres.

The Benefits of Natural Playground Equipment on the Environment

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The Benefits of Natural Playground Equipment on the Environment

Play is an essential part of a child’s development, and playgrounds provide an excellent space for children to explore and have fun. In recent years, natural playgrounds have become more prevalent due to environmental concerns, and they are very beneficial for not only the children that play there, but for the environment, as well. Here’s a list of some materials that can be used in a natural playground and the benefits they offer in terms of being environmentally friendly.

Rubber Safety Surfacing

There are three types of rubber safety surface – grass mats, rubber mulch and wet pour. All of these forms are designed to fit into the surrounding environment and can be customised to suit different areas. The rubber is taken from recycled tyres, removing these harmful objects from the ecosystem and turning them into a safe and pleasant play area. Rubber mulch is especially suited to the environment because it looks natural (depending on colour) and are less intrusive to the wildlife in the area. Grass mats promote the use of turf and seeding which therefore creates it’s own ecosystem amongst the blades of grass and roots. Grass also increases air quality which is often much needed in urban play grounds.

Playground trampoline

Old Tyres

Similar to rubber safety surfaces, reusing old tyres makes for a more environmentally friendly playground, as tyres are very durable and do not biodegrade, meaning they could potentially negatively impact the wildlife surrounding them. Problems such as fires, and therefore pollution, can be avoided by recycling tyres. Furthermore, using rubber is an effective tool when it comes to active play due its durability. In other words, rubber play equipment will likely not need to be replaced too often.

Playground tyres

Logs

Using waste logs from tree surgeons removes the need for the surgeon to dispose of the unwanted wood and put it to good use as outdoor playground equipment. If not taken, the logs may be used for purposes such as firewood, which is not healthy for the environment (due to smoke pollution and the risk of the fire becoming hard to control). Like grass mats and rubber mulch, wooden playground equipment blends in with the environment and is resistant to changes in weather. This means it weathers at a similar rate to the surroundings, keeping it natural-looking, requires little maintenance and often are the most popular pieces of equipment on playgrounds.

Natural climbing logs

Planting Trees

We do our best to plant as many trees and plant into all of our playgrounds. This well in turn improve the air quality of the playground and the surrounding area. After the installation of every playground, planting an oak tree is an extra touch we like to take. Oak is one of the primary woods that are used for wooden playground equipment so planting more trees allows the process to be more sustainable. The oak trees provide habitats for many different species of insect, bird and mammal, which allow the ecosystem to build and flourish.

Next time you’re looking to upgrade or install natural playground equipment, why not go eco-friendly and reap all the benefits to the environment as well as the benefits to the children that play there, by choosing wooden playground equipment.

 

oak tree for playgrounds
Oak tree planted for every playground we deliver
monkey bars for fitness

How wooden playground equipment could be incorporated into the outdoor workout?

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How wooden playground equipment could be incorporated into the outdoor workout?

 

Recently there has been a huge increase in the amount of outdoor playground equipment designed for exercise use. Councils, employers, schools, colleges, hotels and of course gyms, have been installing dedicated outdoor gym equipment to encourage more of the population to reap some of the benefits of exercising in the open.

wooden outdoor fitness equipment

Exercising outdoors is proven to be extremely beneficial – both physically and mentally – but if your local park hasn’t got around to installing body weight rowing machines and cross-trainers you need not miss out. All you need is some widely available wooden playground equipment and a bit of determination!

fitness monkey bars

Before you start

 

First things first: you might be getting in touch with your inner kid by exercising but some parents can be funny about adults using outdoor playground equipment – especially if you’re not at the park with your kids – so it’s best to keep your sessions to early morning and late evening. And warm up by gently running to the playground, or taking in a couple of laps of the park.

Swings

Squatting on two legs is hard. Squatting on one leg is much, much harder. Going from two legs to one requires practice and a swing is the ideal piece of equipment to help. Hold the seat for balance as you go down into the lowest squat you can manage, then stretch one leg out, parallel to the floor. Build reps slowly if you’re not used to it.

 

Another exercise you can use a swing seat for is the Ab-rollout. Stand over the swing with your hands on the seat, then push it away from you, without moving your feet, and return to the start position.

Using playground equipment for fitness

 

Ladders

Wooden playground equipment often has bars or ladders a couple of feet off the ground. These lend themselves well to Inverted Rowing (Slide under, grab the bar and lift yourself up and down). Depending on the design of the outdoor playground equipment you may also be able to use them for pull-ups and dips too.

 

Monkey Bars

Swinging hand from hand is great for building upper body strength. You can also use this piece of outdoor playground equipment for chin-ups and similar exercises.

 

Benches

All playgrounds have somewhere for parents to sit – but you can use the benches for bench jumps, push-ups, Bulgarian split squats, dips and many other similar exercises where a small amount of elevation is required.

 

So, next time the kids want to visit the park, or you’re passing an empty playground, there’s really no reason not to work out!

 

 

 

 

CSR day with W. R. BERKLEY CORPORATION

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A couple of weeks ago we organised and designed quite an ambitious project for the W. R. BERKLEY CORPORATION team to take on. They are currently building one of London’s newest skyscrapers called ‘The Scalpel’ and soon showed what can be done when a corporation from the city works hard to put something back into the community.  

A big thank you to the whole Scalpel team for all of their hard work and funding.  

Outdoor Classroom and Stage

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Contemporary Outdoor Classrooms 

We have recently completed a new project designed by Variant Office, for Tulse Hill Adventure Playground in Lambeth, London. The beautiful outdoor classroom was designed to make use of the open space and create more room for after school learning for the local community.

Bespoke playground equipment

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Why Bespoke?

PlayEquip are best known for the service we provide for teachers, parents, landscape architects and architects. It’s often the case where someone comes to us with an idea of what they want, a budget and the willingness to make the most of every penny. Often people are unnerved about the the word ‘bespoke’. This shouldn’t be the case. We have found that this is in fact the most effective way of creating exactly what you need and utilising your budget most effectively. Instead of trying make something fit, surely it makes sense to design around the space you have.

Bespoke play structure sketch

Bespoke climbing frames drawing

We craft bespoke playground equipment from the same materials we create the our ‘off-the-shelf’ equipment from. For us, creating a climbing frame to fit a 6m x 5m area is no real difference to producing one to fit a 8m x 6m area. We construct all of our products here in the UK to order, which allow total flexibility in design. We are more than happy to create safe and robust playground equipment from a quick sketch and a chat. Be assured that all of our bespoke playground equipment is design by a play safety expert and crossed check by an independent play inspector during the design process and post completion. All playground equipment that me install and design adhere the the European Safety Standards EN 1176. We enjoy working closely with our clients to make sure absolutely every detail is taken care of.

Check out some of latest bespoke playgrounds here

 

Bespoke Climbing Frames and Play Structures

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Bespoke Climbing Frames

Space is a premium, especially in the city. It’s vital to make the most of every square foot of space that you have. Through our years of developing some of the best climbing frames around, we believe that bespoke climbing frames and play structures is the only way to make the most of what you have got.

 

If you wanted a new kitchen, you wouldn’t try and make something fit, you would assess the house and it’s requirements and implement a design that suits your exact needs. With the high cost of playground equipment why would you try and make an off-the-shelf range fit in what little and valuable space you have? You’re probably now thinking the cost of this approach would be prohibitive? Well that’s where you’re wrong. Our wealth of knowledge of play design and expert knowledge of material use mean that the development of a bespoke climbing frame or structure is simpler and cheaper than you think.

If you wanted a new kitchen, you wouldn’t try and make something fit, you would assess the house and it’s requirements and implement a design that suits your exact needs. With the high cost of playground equipment why would you try and make an off-the-shelf range fit in what little and valuable space you have? You’re probably now thinking the cost of this approach would be prohibitive? Well that’s where you’re wrong. Our wealth of knowledge of play design and expert knowledge of material use mean that the development of a bespoke climbing frame or structure is simpler and cheaper than you think.
Bespoke climbing frame design
After a free consultation over a cup of tea, we will quickly formulate a plan that covers all of your requirements and maximum the potential of your budget. Our in-house design team and play safety experts* will create a concept drawing for your review free of charge. Final tweaks can then be made to the design until it’s perfect for your requirements.

Site Specific Design

We realise that most of our constructions are in sensitive locations. For this reason we create your bespoke climbing frames in modular units that can be transported from our UK workshop to site. This reduces time on site and provides a high finish in the controlled environment of a workshop.

Our UK workshop means that lead time for each project are dramatically reduced. Depending on scale, we can have a project on site within a few weeks of first contact. Construction phases can be completed within extremely short spaces of time, such as school holidays

Installation is quick, stress free and performed by our expert play specialists who have a wealth of knowledge of installation in schools, garden, parks and nurseries. We are well used to construction within root protection zones and do most excavations by hand, reducing noise and ensuring the least disruption as possible.

We believe that the old system of trying to make a square fit a circle is outdated. As the importance of play is realised more and more, we must provide the facility to make the most of it. If you a parent, teacher, architect, or third sector worker please get in touch for a chat and lets make a difference.

Check out some of our bespoke climbing frames here

PlayEquip

* All bespoke climbing frame are built to the european safety standard EN1176

 

Outdoor fitness and gym equipment for all

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Premium Outdoor Fitness Equipment For Schools, Parks & Gardens

Outdoor Fitness Equipment by PlayEquip

The gym and
fitness industry are currently growing an amazing rate as education on the
importance of exercise has on person physical and mental health. The everyday pressures
of work and the physical effect that sitting at a desk all day need to be
counteracted by introducing fitness into our daily routines.

Despite of
this, current studies show that only one in seven of us use the gym on a regular
basis. The importance of a healthy body and mind are well documented but obesity
levels are up and the knock on effect of this is proving to be extremely
expensive for the health service. So what can we do to help reverse this trend?

Many of us
have great intensions of becoming the one in seven, but often getting in the
habit and continuing what we set out to achieve is sometimes a little
unrealistic. The cost of joining a gym can play a factor in this. Signing up to
a £30 a month contract can get very expensive especially if you’re locked into
it. We believe that access to fitness equipment should be freely available to
everyone.

Natural outdoor fitness equipment

Our wooden outdoor
fitness and gym equipment can be installed and ready for use by anyone
anywhere. Once installed public parks this equipment is accessible to everyone
for free. The range of equipment is designed to provide an all around workout
for the whole body. As the equipment utilises the users body weight, its usable
for everyone no matter what their weight and size.

The wooden fitness
equipment has no moving parts and is made from the most durable materials such
as large oak and robinia timbers and stainless steel. Once installed the
equipment requires very little maintenance which extremely beneficial for
councils with tight budgets.

monkey bars for fitness

Often the
loud colours of the metal equipment doesn’t suit its tranquil surroundings. Our
timber fitness equipment fits perfectly into any green space and becomes an asset
rather than an eyesore. The fitness
equipment is then freely available all year round outdoors where the air where
the air is clean.

Outdoor exercise for all

We believe
that the investment in outdoor fitness equipment such as ours will pay
dividends for many years to come. It provides great opportunity and freedom to
local communities to make positive steps towards living healthier and more
productive lives.

We provide complete
packages of all equipment, or individual individual items such as outdoor pull-up
bars, dip bars and sit-up benches. We also provide our fitness equipment to
private gyms and for back gardens.

Check out our products here

Get in touch and see what we can do for you.

 

The Benefits Of Wooden Playground Equipment

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Within this post we will looks at the advantages of using timber as the main component for playground equipment

wooden playground equipment for parks

Isn’t wooden playground equipment more susceptible to vandalism through arson?

The natural feel creates and natural and calming environment and so creates less of a target for vandalism. Wooden playground equipment is harder to mark with paint or pen as the timber absorbs the colour. Any visible paint can easily be sanded away.

Through our experience in building and designing playground equipment over the years we understand where areas of playground equipment are vulnerable to vandalism. In these areas such as underneath platforms and hidden away nooks and crannies we have engineered the surrounding wooden components to be oversized and less susceptible materials to ignition or even to make them inaccessible.

wooden climbing frame

Isn’t wooden playground equipment less durable than metal playground equipment?

We have engineered the wooden components on our playground equipment to equal or exceed the duribilty of steel painted steel playground equipment. This is done by using naturally durable timbers such as oak and robinia in sizes and thickness that will stand the test of time. To further extend the durability, wooden components of playground equipment that are in contact with the ground can be installed onto stainless steel shoes for an optional additional cost. This further reduces the risk of decay. This also means that timber members can be swapped and replaced easily potentially extending the use to a lifetime. Although we would recommend all of our wooden posts to be installed using these stainless steel shoe when used commercially, we give a 15 guarantee for all oak and robinia posts installed directly into the ground. The 15 year guarantee is a great bench mark. Often customers look to replace equipment after 15 years if possible

Many playground equipment suppliers only offer a very short guarantee of around 3 years for painted metal components as the paint often become chipped and faded through just from the average wear and tear of general use. Although wooden playground equipment greys over time this is often viewed as an advantage as the playground equipment sits in harmony with its natural surrounding and has a much nicer appearance than faded and chipped paintwork.

natural wooden playground features

Isn’t chopping down trees unsustainable for the environment?

The environment is very important to us. The sustainability of our resources is key and necessary for the future of our end clients. All of timber used for our wooden playground equipment is sourced from certified FSC suppliers. Our timber is acquired from forests as close to our workshop as possible. This in turn reduces our companies CO2 footprint by reducing transportation. Metal playground equipment is not so environmentally friendly to produce as it requires far more energy to manufacture.

In addition to this, we supplement our reduced CO2 footprint by planting as many tree as possible on each playground project we design and build. We believe greener play spaces are happy, more relaxing and healthier spaces for our children to play.

We have chosen to use timbers that are naturally resilient to insect attack and decay. Through are years of experience in working with different materials, we have refined what we use through experience. We believe that the correct use of certain species of timber, means that chemical treatment is not required needed. As we all know organic products are better for both the environment and the user. This is a theory already agreed by our Scandinavian counter parts and in fact a legal requirement.

tactile wooden playground equipment

Tactile timber

The tactile nature of wooden playground equipment brings more of a sense of the natural world to children. This is a very important aspect of any playground. The less clinical and industrial feel is more inviting especially to younger children who often explore their environment with there hands. Even on cold days wooden playground equipment is warmer to the touch than metal playground equipment. This also works the opposite way on very hot days. Timber doesn’t conduct heat in the same way metal does and has huge benefits for this reason alone.

Wooden playground equipment is also a softer material to bump into and far more forgiving than steel. Bumps and bruises are inevitable in play and so anyway of reducing the potential is an obvious win.

commercial wooden playground equipment

Choosing the Right Playground Equipment

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Far from being child’s play, finding the right playground equipment can be a
difficult decision with so many different suppliers and styles of equipment to
choose from.

When choosing playground equipment, one of the first things
you’ll need to do is to find the right supplier. In order to do so, there are a
number of different factors you’ll need to consider. Start by doing some online
research once you have narrowed down your potential list of suppliers, looking
at previous customer reviews. By looking at reviews from people who have
already used these companies you can gain a general idea of the quality of
their products, their service, and overall reputation.

There are, of course, some more general factors that you’ll
have to take into consideration in order to find the right playground equipment
to suit your needs.

Age of Intended Users

Whether you are looking to purchase playground equipment for
a school or for private use on your property, you have to keep in mind the age
of the group the equipment is intended for. While our wide range of equipment
caters to a variety of ages, not every piece of equipment will be suitable for
every age so it’s a good idea to narrow down your search to products that will
be suitable for the children who will be using it.

Choosing equipment that will appeal to a variety of ages can
be more difficult, but not impossible. In this case, investing in a
bespoke playground could be the
right choice for you.

Available Space

Another important determining factoring in choosing the
right playground equipment is the amounts of available space you have for it to
sit on. Despite what you might think, not all playground equipment requires a
lot of space, and many of our items will easily fit into a back garden.
However, knowing exactly how much available space you have will help you narrow
down your search as you can eliminate equipment that will be far too big to fit
into the designated area. Don’t forget to also take safety space into account,
as you will have to allow room for safety surfacing to protect children from
any impact, should they fall from the equipment.

Personal Preference

Personal preference should also play a part in your final
decision; both your own and that of the children who will be using the equipment.
There are many different types of playground available from monkey bars to
swings and everything in between, so it’s important that you choose one that
will be enjoyed and well-used.