Artificial Grass Vs Real Grass for Early Childhood Education Centres


Making a decision between artificial and real grass for your ECE centre?

Outdoor play is essential for children’s learning and development. Therefore, investing in a practical solution for your outdoor play areas results in happier kids, with a diversity of options that encourage them to get outside.

In this article, we’ll explore the option of artificial grass for early childhood centres, including:

  • The practicality of artificial grass for playgrounds and its benefits.
  • Meeting playground safety regulations with artificial grass.
  • How to incorporate different aspects of nature into your outdoor area.

The Practicality of Artificial Grass

The Ministry of Education and most teaching philosophies express that natural is best. However, we believe there is a middle ground, creating a space that’s not only beneficial but practical in use and maintenance.

Three major pros of artificial grass are:

  • Artificial grass requires significantly less maintenance than natural grass. This means more time (and money) spent with the kids exploring and learning.
  • Your outdoor play area will be inviting all year round. No muddy, ripped up sections of lawn for kids to get dirty in.
  • Artificial grass is customisable with multi-turf (and multi-coloured) options, giving you the freedom to design your outdoor play area to suit your centre’s needs.

Read more: Artificial Grass Vs Natural Lawn [Pros and Cons]

Artificial Grass and Playground Safety Regulations

Safety is the number one priority when constructing your outdoor play area. This means complying with the NZ Standard for Playground Equipment and Surfacing.

The standards are outlined in our blog, Playground Safety Regulations and TigerTurf. They are quite specific and include (but not limited to) such things as:

  • Equipment over 600 mm needs to be on a loose-fill or synthetic safety surface.
  • Equipment over 600 mm needs a clearance of 1.5 metres fall space around the equipment.
  • No climbing equipment of any height should be situated on concrete unless a suitable attenuation surface (shock pad) is used with correct fall space.
  • Gaps between fence palings should be 100 mm or less.
  • Equipment over 600mm requires a 600-850mm barrier.  Definition of a barrier: A guardrail with non – accessible infill.)
  • Any moveable platform must have barriers if it is over 1.2 metres.

Understanding these requirements, and the fall height specifications of the surfaces underneath the play equipment – whether it be synthetic turf, bark, rubber matting or poured rubber surfaces – is important to ensure they comply with these rigorous standards.


Incorporating different aspects of nature

Creating an outdoor space that is inviting, engaging and safe for children to enjoy helps their development. However, limiting their experience of nature to grass alone in your centre’s outdoor area isn’t necessary.

Aid child development with outdoor play

According to Jan Beatson’s latest He Kapu article, there are many benefits of outdoor play, including opportunities for wondering, questioning, inquiry, discussion, group and one-to-one interactions.

Beatson shares that outdoor environments provide a great opportunity for play and learning, and provide context for language development.

As children engage with the environment around them, they are able to be curious, explore, and use their imaginations. Therefore providing this space for children should be a huge priority for ECE centres.

There are more options beyond grass

Although artificial grass isn’t the natural option, there are many other ways of incorporating nature without real grass. These options include:

  • Gardens – plant a vibrant flower garden that attracts birds, butterflies and bees for children to enjoy and engage with.
  • Hedging – surround your outdoor space with a greenery and flowering edge.
  • Herb gardens – grow from seedlings a selection of herbs, sharing with the children the process of growth.
  • Living walls – spruce up your fencing with living walls of seasonal fruit and veges. Grow from seedlings: spinach, lettuce, tomatoes or peas.
  • Planting, keeping and maintaining trees – plant for a future of natural shade and spaces to explore.

Make your ECE outdoor play spaces engaging with a combination of the options above and invite children to join in with the cultivation of their outdoor space.

hoose TigerTurf and choose safety

Ensure the protection of the children enjoying the equipment and mitigate the risk for your early learning centre with TigerTurf’s multi-play surfaces.

Our artificial grass surfaces are engineered to meet the relevant fall impact criteria for different activities and have been tested as fully compliant for absorbing impact up to 3 metres.

TigerTurf also has Business Development Managers for Early Childhood Centres that are certified by The Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) to review the safety of a playground.

Trained to provide more than just a soft fall surface, TigerTurf’s BDMs can provide advice and recommendations on fall heights and shock pad requirements, identify different playground hazards with surfaces and equipment, and help ensure your playground is safe, fun and compliant.

Want our help creating an engaging, safe and fun outdoor area for your ECE centre? Give our friendly team a call.

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