What Are Natural Playgrounds?
Natural playgrounds are play areas that are designed and created to incorporate building materials and landscaping that comes from nature. Using nontraditional materials like ruff timbers and logs, rocks, and anything else one might find in nature to build playgrounds is becoming a very popular choice over traditional metal and plastic playground equipment.
As a child, I remember being outside all day long during the summers. I can remember getting up, finding my brothers and friends and spending entire days on our own little adventures, exploring the woods, lakes and canals near our home. We were fortunate to live in a semi rural area that afforded us these little luxuries as children. With cities and suburbs expanding at extremely fast rates, the average child gets very little exposure to the wonders of mother nature. How can we as a society preserve a piece of nature and leave it behind for our children, say in the middle of a large, already developed city? The answer is natural playgrounds.
Are Natural Playgrounds Safe?
The truth is that no playground is truly safe. Playground engineers, designers and installers strive to make playgrounds as safe as possible. The truth is that the more safety one incorporates into the design of a playground, the more fun that is typically removed. Natural playgrounds can be designed to be just as safe as traditional engineered commercial playgrounds. This can be accomplished by strict adherence to ASTM and NPSI playground safety guidelines during the design and construction of natural playgrounds.
Are Natural Playgrounds Durable?
Many of the components that make up natural playgrounds, such as boulders and stone are durable materials that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the majority of playground obstacles on a natural playground will be made of wood, in most cases untreated timber to provide a natural look and feel. This type of wood will be susceptible to rotting, splintering and pest infestation. There are alternatives such as using cedar wood, or pressure treated lumber, but even these alternatives have their limitations when it comes to continued use and combating mother nature.
With careful design and rigid construction, natural playgrounds can be both beautiful and durable. Safety will always be a concern with natural playgrounds. Natural playgrounds are a great way to bring nature back into the cities and suburbs. It also provides an opportunity to teach children about the natural wonders of the world.