What should the play area of the future be like?
Lars Laj's designers have prepared a 6-step guide on how to create a playground of the future: a natural and eco-friendly place that brings children close to nature. Let’s check what essential criteria the playground should meet to be ECO FRIENDLY!
6 STEPS for an Eco Playground
STEP 1 for an Eco Playground: Environmental Education
Education is the key to changing the World! Recycling, permaculture, upcycling, zero-waste … - all these ideas are still something new for us, grown-ups. We are slowly altering our bad habits, often forgetting what we’ve just learnt and making mistakes during the process. However, if we encourage our children to closely observe these efforts, to learn about the environment, and grow to respect and care for nature - then what is still so difficult for us will be easy and natural for them!
Our suggestion of playground equipment we need to cultivate environmental awareness in children:
- VEGETABLE GARDEN: to closely observe the roots, how the plants grow and what happens underneath the surface.
- PLANT CASES: to learn how to grow our own vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.
- BIRD FEEDER: to observe the local birds’ behaviour, feed them in winter and learn about their songs and habits.
- MAGNIFYING GLASS: to check what the flower, fruits or leaves look like from the closer perspective.
- WASTE BINS: to take the first steps in recycling.
STEP 2 for an Eco Playground: Natural Materials
Eco friendly playgrounds should include play equipment made from ecological materials. When manufacturing our products, we mainly use natural wood as well as recycled materials. For instance, rubber tyres are given a second life and become part of an obstacle course.
The wood we use is extremely resistant and solid, nice in touch, easy to maintain, repair and environmental friendly. Our wood comes from responsibly managed forests that meet the highest environmental and social standards.
The best choice for eco-friendly playgrounds is play equipment made from natural robinia wood. Robinia wood is a characteristic feature in Lars Laj's playgrounds from Nature, Dreamworld and Modern Nature product lines.
STEP 3 for an Eco Playground: Natural safety surface
We recommend installing eco playgrounds on natural safety surfaces such as sand or grass:
1. Sand (the best is a washed one with a measurement of 0.2-2 mm and a layer of min. 30 cm), bark chippings or a delicate grit with a measurement of 2-8 mm:
- This is not only a natural, but extremely safe surface too! Did you know that on the sand, grit or bark chippings we can install even very tall play equipment? Their critical falling height can exceed 1 m!
- This kind of safety surface is relatively cheap and easy in maintain.
- Apart from standard sandboxes, we offer rims, which enable us to create a sandbox in any shape.
Children love playing with sand, so the safe sand surface can serve as a huge sandbox too. However, if you’d like to design a separate space for playing with sand, we offer wooden beams so you can create a sandbox in any shape you'd like!
If the playground equipment’s critical falling height does not exceed 1 m, it can be installed directly on the grass! In our offer you can find over 130 of such products: rockets, seesaws, slides, wooden playhouses and many more - check for yourself!
Grass is a friendly solution both for our children and the environment:
- Grass lowers the air temperature and retains the moisture in the soil. That’s why when it’s hot and dry, walking on the grass cools and comforts the little feet.
- Grass is an ecosystem for insects and small animals.
- Grass emits oxygen.
STEP 4 for an Eco Playground: Diverse Landscape
Natural hills are fantastic places for children for climbing, rolling, running and sliding. Let’s use the natural potential of the landscape and create a unique playground! Our designers can help you and advise which playground items should be installed only on the flat surface and which are made for the natural hills.
We offer at least 30 special play units which can be installed on the hills - check for instance Hekla! Our designers can also create a special playground project that will meet your needs and requirements.
STEP 5 for an Eco Playground: Plants
On the eco playground we cannot forget greenery, but the plant species should be consciously chosen:
- trees with spreading crowns (chestnut, hawthorn, rowan, oak or maple) will provide protection against the sun and light rain,
- dense shrubs (spiraea, cypress or dogwood) will be perfect as a natural hedge, which will separate and protect the playground from city noise as well as become a friendly nesting place for birds,
- plants which stimulate the senses are also good choices: the best are the fragrant (violets, lilacs, thyme or jasmine), colourful (physalis, dogwood, rowan or plane tree) flowers with different textures (heliotrope with rough leaves or pine with soft needles),
- we cannot forget about the insects pollinating of the flowers: plants such as dandelion, thyme, cornflower, phlox, raspberry or bird cherry will attract bees and butterflies to the playground.
Poisonous plants must not be planted on the playground (these include for example yews, datura plants, snow flies, mistletoe, euonymus, lilies of the valley, monkshood, broom or genera). We should also avoid the species having thorns and sharp or brittle twigs (barberry, spruce, roses, hawthorn or black locust).
Flowers and vegetables can be easily planted in wooden cases. To avoid waste, our plant cases are manufactured from the remaining wooden parts after the production of other Lars Laj playground units. Nothing is wasted.
STEP 6 for an Eco Playground: Sand and Water Play
Toys for sand and water play activity are absolute must-haves on any eco playground!
Playing with sand and water is not only great fun for children, especially the youngest, but also an opportunity to develop sensory integration, manual skills and imagination as well as make new friends. For playing with sand and water we recommend traditional sandboxes or whole sand sets with a bucket and crane.
We recommend traditional sandboxes or the wooden sets with a sink, metal buckets and a crane pulley system. Even the smallest playground can become a place full of attractions if we add just a few devices for playing with sand and water!