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Understanding the different types of playground surfaces

Understanding the different types of playground surfaces

Understanding the different types of playground surfaces

When it comes to choosing a safe surface for public playgrounds such as schools or parks, there are several options to consider that are both safe and inclusive. These options are grouped into two major categories of surfacing: unitary and loose-fill.

Playground surfacing is a key factor to playground safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, falls to the playground surface account for nearly 70 percent of all injuries. Installing playgrounds over dirt, grass, concrete or pavers with no safety surfacing are not safe options and can indeed be life-threatening. To minimize risk and improve playground safety, playground flooring must be soft enough and thick enough to lessen the impact of a child’s fall.

Along with increased safety, certain playground surfaces also improve accessibility for playground visitors with mobility challenges. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which governs public playgrounds, requires that ground cover materials must accommodate all people, including physically challenged people who have mobility and footing issues such as people on crutches or in wheelchairs. 

Villa Duchesne Playground

The different types of unitary material playground surfaces include:

    • Synthetic Playground Grass
    • Pour-in-place Rubber
    • Rubber Mats
    • Tiles

Unitary surfaces include synthetic playground grass or turf, poured-in-place rubber, bond-in-place rubber, and interlocking resilient tiles – all with protective under-padding to help protect against falls. While the up-front cost is higher than loose-fill surfacing, unitary surfacing can be cheaper in the long run due to its high durability and low maintenance costs. Unitary surfacing is also extremely safe and guarantees complete accessibility and ease-of-use for physically challenged children and adults. Synthetic Grass and Poured-in-place and bond-in-place rubberized surfacing is also available in a wide variety of colors and shapes to make playgrounds more attractive to children and parents. Unitary surfacing design can also be leveraged to introduce additional games, sensory elements and play events ca to a play area bringing another added benefit to this surfacing solution.

The different types of loose-fill playground surfaces include:

    • Rubber Mulch
    • Wood Chips

Rubber mulch and engineered wood fiber (EWF), playground sand, pea gravel and other bulk materials are considered loose-fill material. However, many Owners are looking to excavate and replace the latter materials – pea gravel, sand – as it is dated, messy and not ADA compliant. While loose-fill material has the least expensive upfront costs and is easy to install, it also requires more frequent maintenance to stay within safety and ADA guidelines.

Loose-fill materials will compress at least 25 percent over time due to use and weathering. Additionally, materials must be replenished to ensure the surfacing system remains at the appropriate depth to adequately cushion falls. Generally speaking, 12 inches of loose fill material is recommended under and around playground equipment. Things like shards of glass, other sharp objects or animal waste can get buried in the loose material posing a potential hazard requiring the material to be replenished and/or replaced from time to time.

Get Started by speaking with a Byrne & Jones Playground Expert

If you are interested in learning more about designing and building a recreational or playground space you can reach out to us at  (314) 254-9766 and ask to speak with a playground expert. We will break down the entire process for you and help you choose the best products for your project. Make the world a better place by building inclusive play environments for children and let us help you along the way.

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What to consider when designing and building an inclusive playground

What to consider when designing and building an inclusive playground

What to consider when designing and building an inclusive playground

The ideal playground is designed with the intent for all children, able-bodied or disabled, to play and enjoy their youth. No matter the child’s circumstances, they should have equal opportunity when attending their local park. The most desired parks provide an array of options that give the visitor the ability to choose the experience most suited for them. Parents should feel safe and comfortable when allowing their children to participate in different play activities. The best parks are the ones where children are constantly requesting to go back. We want to help you build your ideal park! 

By leveraging our cross-division synergy, we are able to provide parks departments with the necessary resources to design and build inclusive playgrounds. Below you will find some of our recommended tips for when beginning your next playground project. 

What is an inclusive playground?

An inclusive playground provides a sensory-rich environment designed for all children to develop socially, physically, and emotionally that is easily accessible. They are carefully designed to provide a safe place for children with and without disabilities to come together and play. A true inclusive playground goes beyond the minimum playground requirements to create a truly unique play environment. Communities are diverse. Playgrounds should be too. 

Some components to consider when building an inclusive playground include:

  • Easy access to the playground
  • Select inclusive play equipment
  • Include sensory play elements
  • Provide social areas for all

Provide Easy Access to the playground

When designing a playground with multiple access points, the builder can provide various ways for visitors to enter the playground. An inclusive playground should be easily accessible for all children and parents. One addition would be the construction of ramps. Ramps allow for inclusive mobility into the playground. The surrounding parking lot should include ADA compliant ramps and sidewalks to further create access.

Select inclusive Play Equipment

When selecting the play equipment that will be installed, it is important to consider children with disabilities. For example, swing systems could feature swings that include harnesses,  wheelchair platforms, etc. Selecting ground-level activities is another way to help those who may not be able to climb onto play equipment. By ensuring the playground has play equipment that can be used by all,  more visitors can visit your park.  

Include sensory play elements

Sensory-rich playgrounds allow children of all abilities to integrate and develop their senses. Children on the Autism Spectrum or with Sensory Processing Disorders often prefer sensory stimulation as it allows them to explore and discover their world in an interactive way. When a child is engaged with sensory play, they are working towards enhancing their cognitive and motor skills, stimulating their creativity, and developing social skills. The more they play, the more they develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them.

Provide social areas for all

Is it important to include both individual and group play settings within the equipment. Not all children enjoy or want to play in large groups everyday so it important to give them choices. Including safe spaces can provide children areas for sensory relief. Equally important is the aspect of a playground that offers children the space to interact and play with one another. Play structures that incorporate both of the recommendations above can provide great balance for visitors. 

Get Started by speaking with a Byrne & Jones Playground Expert

If you are interested in learning more about designing and building an inclusive playground you can reach out to us at (314) 254-9766 and ask to speak with a playground expert. We will break down the entire process for you and help you choose the best equipment for your project. Make the world a better place by building inclusive play environments for children and let us help you along the way. 

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The importance of Outdoor Recreational Spaces At Senior Living Communities

The importance of Outdoor Recreational Spaces At Senior Living Communities

Enhancing Senior Living Communities: The Vital Role of Outdoor Recreational Spaces for Health, Wellness, and Socialization.

Enjoyable outdoor recreational spaces at Senior Living Facilities are critical to the health and well-being of seniors.

Outdoor recreational spaces are at the core of all healthy communities – cities, townships, social clubs, schools, etc. – and the same applies to a senior living community. These spaces can improve the quality of life for seniors, providing them with a sense of community and a place to relax and engage in activities they enjoy. The benefits of outdoor recreation are well documented, including improved mental and physical health, socialization, and reduced stress.

The amenities that Byrne & Jones Parks can deliver extend to not only to residents but also their family members and visitors. Offering such enjoyable outdoor spaces also bolsters these residences’ own marketing efforts, making their care community more desirable to be a part of. In recent years, senior living communities have enhanced their outdoor recreational spaces by including the following amenities: 

Sensory Gardens

Sensory gardens are one amenity that can provide a peaceful and relaxing space for residents. These gardens are designed to engage the senses, providing opportunities for residents to enjoy the sights, sounds, and fragrances of nature. Sensory gardens can help to improve mental health, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance cognitive function. Including instruments in these gardens can provide the residents even more peace. Research has found that intergenerational musical play can have physical and cognitive health benefits for elderly adults, particularly those residing in long-term care homes or residential facilities. This type of musical session facilitates mutual teaching and learning and encourages intergenerational relationships, leading to improved psychosocial status and enhanced cognitive function in the elderly participants. The combined effect of music and social participation has been shown to be beneficial in reducing depressive and anxious symptoms in elderly and dementia patients.

Outdoor Social Spaces

Outdoor social spaces, such as game tables, seating, performance areas, and courtyards, provide opportunities for residents to interact with one another and participate in community events. Bocce and Pickleball courts offer residents a chance to engage in friendly competition and physical activity, promoting health and wellness. These spaces encourage socialization and community-building, which can have a positive impact on mental health, improve mood, and reduce stress. In addition to providing socialization opportunities for residents, outdoor social spaces also offer a welcoming environment for family members and visitors to spend time with their loved ones.

Walking Trails

Walking trails are an important aspect of outdoor recreational spaces in senior living communities. These trails provide opportunities for residents to engage in physical activity, promote health and wellness, and enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings. Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that is particularly well-suited for seniors, as it can help to improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of falls, and enhance overall mobility. Walking trails can be designed to accommodate walkers of all abilities, with different levels of difficulty and terrain, and can be wheelchair-accessible.

Outdoor Fitness Equipment

Outdoor fitness courts can also be a great addition to senior care facility campuses. Customized equipment is designed specifically for seniors, with low impact movements and easy-to-use events. They can help residents maintain or improve their physical health, including strength, balance, and flexibility. Fitness equipment can also provide an opportunity for socialization and community-building, with group exercise classes or simply working out alongside friends.

Get Started with your next project by speaking with our parks division

We believe that everyone, regardless of age, should have access to enjoyable outdoor recreational spaces, and we are committed to helping senior care facilities provide these vital resources to their residents. By proactively introducing Byrne & Jones as a resource to senior living communities, our goal is to help making extended campus recreational resources and greater joy & satisfaction a reality. If you are interested in learning more about designing and building an outdoor recreational space at a senior living community, please reach out to us at  (314) 254-9766. 

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Byrne & Jones Launches Parks Division

Byrne & Jones Launches Parks Division

Athletic Facilities

Byrne & Jones Launches New Parks Division

St. Louis-based Byrne & Jones Construction Inc. is expanding operations with the launch of a new Parks Division.  The division will design, engineer and install recreational spaces and amenities for state, county and municipal governments and schools. It will tap the full breadth of Byrne & Jones civil site development and improvement services. Recreational consultant Ben Brown will lead business development efforts for the division, which employs seven dedicated team members, with additional support from more than 50 specialists in other Byrne & Jones divisions. Read More

How to Improve Your Community with Pocket Parks

How to Improve Your Community with Pocket Parks

How to Improve Your Community with Pocket Parks

Small but mighty, pocket parks have the ability to transform a community. In urban areas that lack recreational space, pocket parks offer a solution. With just an abandoned alleyway or vacant lot, these small areas can be reimagined into tiny parks that offer value to the surrounding area.

What is a pocket park?

A pocket park, also known as a minipark or a vest-pocket park, is a small plot of land that is typically no more than ¼ of an acre. Pocket parks are generally located in urban areas with limited green space and can be found as benefitting low-income areas. These renovated spaces allow for unused or run down land to serve a specific purpose for the surrounding community. Pocket parks should be easily accessible for community members, meaning that the park should be walkable. Pocket parks are created in areas in need of this renovation, therefore the parks should primarily benefit the surrounding community.

What is the purpose of a pocket park?

Pocket parks create use for vacant plots of land as well as offer additional benefits. One of the more common purposes of these parks is to create recreational space for youths in urban areas. Whether that is a playground or just green space for children to run around, these parks offer a solution to youths lacking the much needed space. Another common use for pocket parks is the ability for the space to be used as a community gathering. By allowing a common area in a community, residents can have an easily accessible place to come together and build relationships. This area can also be used as a space to go to relax or a place to take visitors. Apart from a physical space to visit, pocket parks offer intangible benefits. These appealing areas can, “increase safety and boost community pride,” according to Pocketparks.

According to the NRPA, pocket parks have four key qualities:

(1) they are accessible

(2) allow people to engage in activities

(3) are comfortable spaces and have a good image

(4) are sociable places where people meet each other and take people to when they come to visit

How do pocket parks help the environment?

In dense urban areas, pocket parks help to encourage more green space. By having an area with grass, gardens, or trees, this space can help to support the ecology while conserving the wildlife. Green space can additionally help to reduce pollution in the area, thereby improving the health of the community. Some pocket parks have even taken to constructing community gardens in their pocket parks, which supports naturally grown foods and a strong sense of accomplishment, which can boost mental health.

What are the benefits of pocket parks?

Pocket parks allow local communities to come together to make a positive change. As a group, residents are given the chance to work as a team to decide on what purpose their pocket park will serve. This process can help to build healthy relationships within the community while offering a sense of accomplishment. Pocket parks can also help to improve the appearance of the area, especially in low-income areas or areas that are run-down. This nicer appearance can help to deter crime and improve the mental health of the community. It has even been found that pocket parks can help increase surrounding property values.

To learn more contact us below or give us a call at (314) 254-9766!