Playground Turf Buyer’s Guide
By Kayla Haas
| Fact Checked By: Sonal Agarwal
Published: November 5, 2017 | Updated: August 4, 2021
When creating your outdoor playground, it’s essential to consider the type of surface toddlers and small children will play on. You wouldn’t want an accident to occur on an unforgiving surface, like concrete or asphalt. The solution – playground turf!
You can rest easy with playground turf, knowing that your outdoor play area is safer for those of all ages, comfortable to walk on, and appealing to the eye. Discover the ins and outs of kid-safe turf like what to expect, how to maintain it, and so much more!
What is Playground Turf?
Playground turf, also known as artificial grass, provides a plush and realistic grass feel to any space. Playground turf often mimics the natural Bermuda grass, which grows throughout the United States’ southern region.
Kid-safe turf is UV, heat, and frost resistant, making it a reliable, year-round playground flooring. It typically has a higher face weight* and more durable fibers than other types of turf. Both of these factors make playground turf a heavy-duty choice for playgrounds.
*The face weight is the amount of material used per square yard in your artificial grass.
|Related Content >> About Artificial Grass|
Playground Turf Padding
For kid-safe turf to be most effective, you must have padding underneath it. The way we measure the effectiveness of the padding is by the fall height. The fall height is the highest point a child can safely fall from without being seriously injured.
The International Play Equipment Association (IPEMA) is a trusted partner in providing the safest play equipment and surfaces on the market. IPEMA’s mission is to promote play, encourage safety, and provide certification programs for playground environments. Manufacturers with IPEMA certified products must comply with the organization’s strict certification processes and safety standards.
Our kid-safe play pads are rated and certified for their fall height rating, which provides the added thickness to the playground flooring. With IPEMA certified play padding, in addition to playground turf, you can rest assured knowing you have a much safer kid’s play area.
Below are standard ratings. However, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s product specifications to ensure your playground will be safe for all who use it.
Play Pad 8: This pad is 50mm thick and is great for commercial use, and offers a 6’ – 8’ fall height.*
Lawn Pad: Lawn Pads are available in various thicknesses. For playground installations, we recommend a Lawn Pad with a thickness between 1-1/8″ and 2-1/8″. For standard turf installations, a 3/4″ thick pad will be substantial.
Approximate Lawn Pad fall height ratings*:
- 3/4″ thick pads – 3′-4′ fall rating
- 1-1/4″ thick pads – 5′-6′ fall rating
- 2-1/4″ thick pads – 8′-9′ fall rating
*The IPEMA fall height rating is measured alongside the substrate, pad, turf, and infill. Individual install conditions vary.
|Related Content >> Playground Flooring Buying Guide|
Pros and Cons of Playground Turf
We understand your kid-safe turf needs to be suitable for your playground setup! While safety is the number one priority of synthetic playground turf, there are other benefits and considerations you may not know about.
Advantages of Playground Turf
- Maintenance: Synthetic turf does not require heavy maintenance. Weekly upkeep, like mowing or watering, is unnecessary for the playground space.
- Fall height: Kid-safe turf is designed to lessen injuries of those who fall from playsets.
- Comfort: Providing a safer play space for children can also be comfortable too. Playground turf provides a soft grass texture that allows children to run and play.
- Eco-friendly: Artificial turf is constructed from recycled materials. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, artificial grass has a measurable, positive impact on the environment and reduces toxic emissions from electric riding and push mowers.
- Bug resistant: Turf does not harbor bugs and insects. You can spend more time on the playground equipment and less time worrying about creepy crawlies.
- Lead and pesticide-free: Our playground turf is free of toxic metals, With its synthetic structure, you won’t have to use fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides to keep your playground space looking fresh.
Limitations of Playground Turf
- Heat: The temperature of artificial turf rises in the sun. Our non-toxic Hydrochill infill and Catalina Turf Rolls, mitigate the heat and keep the synthetic playground grass cooler to the touch.
- Price: Upfront costs may make you hesitant. However, with a long-term investment, like synthetic grass, you won’t have to worry about upkeep or deterioration during seasonal changes.
Playground Turf Materials
Playground turf is usually made from polyethylene or polypropylene. This fiber can hold a lot of wear and tear compared to other types of outdoor playground flooring.
- Polyethylene: The UV stable fiber Polyethylene makes artificial playground grass for both indoor and outdoor use. The heavy-duty fibers resist deterioration from the sun while also staying soft to the touch.
- Polypropylene: This fiber makes soft, easy-to-clean turf. Children love getting their hands dirty while playing, but that doesn’t mean they should feel discomfort on the playing surface. Hands and elbows will stay better protected from scratches and surface burns with our polypropylene-based turf.
Traffic Ratings for Playground Turf
Playgrounds endure heavy, continuous use. Therefore, the amount of traffic your fake grass can reasonably handle depends on its face weight. Below is a chart of how the face weight impacts playground turf’s traffic rating.
- Low-traffic playground turf: 40 oz. and below
- Medium-traffic playground turf: 41 oz. – 60 oz.
- High-traffic playground turf: 61 oz. and above
What Is the Best Playground Turf?
What all of the best playground turfs have in common is an extra durable and thick face weight. With so many options available, it can be challenging to decide between them. To help you determine what’s best for you, check out our top recommendations below.
Pacific Safe Play Turf Rolls
With an attached foam pad and deluxe texture, these rolls are the perfect choice for your personal or commercial playground. In addition, this UV-stable turf has excellent drainage capabilities, which make it great for indoor/outdoor use.
- Foam pad attached
- Acid-resistant to chemicals
- 15-year warranty
Playsafe Turf Rolls
These turf rolls are great for residential playgrounds. They have a face weight and thickness perfect for landscaping. With an extended warranty, your playground will be around for a long time.
- Commercial or residential playground flooring
- Safe and durable
- Perforated for drainage
Playsafe Premium Turf Rolls
A step above our Playsafe Turf Rolls, these turf rolls have a higher face weight and an increased thickness for more durability. More durability equals more time playing in the jungle gym.
- 10-year warranty
- The perfect alternative to rubber, asphalt, or rocks
- Made in the USA
All Play Pet Turf Rolls
People may inevitably bring their pets to playgrounds. You’ll want an extra-durable and soft playground surface that works well for both kids and furry friends. Their 15-year warranty ensures a long lifetime, even for the roughest of playtime.
- Pet-friendly turf
- 3D wide wave shape blades.
Daytona Turf Rolls
Daytona Turf Rolls are the cream of the crop. They have a 15-year warranty and an extremely high face weight and thickness. This is the turf that can keep up with any kid.
- Exceptionally dense and plush
- “Memory” foam fiber technology
- Lead and metal-free
Playground Turf Accessories
To keep your faux grass looking great, you’ll need additional turf products! Always confirm with your manufacturer’s product specifications to ensure you have all the tools and required accessories.
- Weed fabric: To prevent unwanted weeds from poking through your lawn, you’ll need an overlay of weed fabric.
- Infill: With the heavy traffic of shoes in playground areas comes the potential for your turf to become matted. We recommend infill to hold your turf down and keep the blades up for a natural look.
- Staples and nails: To secure the edges of your playground turf, staples and nails are the way to go. You’ll need a mix of both.
- Seam tape and adhesive: Worried about inserting nails? You can always use seam tape to stick turf to your subfloor.
- Lawn pads or play pads: Applying additional cushion underfoot never hurts! We have a variety of different fall height-rated lawn pads to meet your needs.
How to Install Playground Turf
Before beginning installation, check to make sure you have the following: turf cutter, shovel, gravel for turf base, broom, sand, and plate compactor.
Prepare the Area
- Start the process: Remove natural grass and weeds from the surrounding area and the top layer of soil. After you’ve removed three to four inches from the top, walk over your designated playground space or apply pressure to compact the soil.
- Prepare the base: To keep your playground from looking uneven, use a shovel or wheelbarrow to spread 3/8” or smaller bits of gravel across the ground. After the gravel, apply a sand layer that’s about 10 to 15 mm thick on top.
- Compact the layers: Your base must be level to ensure the longevity of your playground turf. Use a plate compactor across your space to compact it entirely. *Depending on the size of the installation area, you may cut a hole in the base the depth and size of your turf play pad to bury it. The maximum space above the base should be 1/4″.
Lay the Turf
- Lay turf pad: Lay your play pad directly on top of your compacted dirt. No weed barrier is necessary for installation.
- Apply playground turf: Lay your turf and allow for at least three hours for your turf to settle. After that, connect your playground turf pieces with tape or glue, whichever is manufacturer recommended.
- Fit and trim edges: To ensure a tight fit, cut the edges of your turf with a utility knife for a neat, professional look. Note: When seaming the turf over a turf pad, you will want to use our turf seam tape or our turf seam tape & adhesive pack, which features turf seam tape and a gallon adhesive bucket.
- Pin your turf: It’s now time to pin down your turf with nails and staples. For landscape pins or galvanized stakes, place them around the perimeter of your playground turf area and along the seam. Hammer the nails down, but be cautious of overdoing it. Your playground turf will dip noticeably if you nail it down too close.
- Apply infill: With your chosen infill, evenly cover your playground turf. This will keep your turf strands looking naturally upright and increase the surface hold.
- Brush over: For the finishing touch, brush over your playground turf to ensure your infill is well integrated.
Pro-tip: Brushing over your turf helps refresh its look, and you can always apply more infill when needed.
How Much Does Playground Turf Cost?
Our playground turf starts as low as $2.29 per sqft and to $3.99 per sqft. Remember that the quality of your kid-safe turf material and the padding thickness impact the cost significantly.
With increased durability and safety, your faux grass product will be enjoyed by friends, family, and furry friends for years to come.
For additional help, we recommend Home Advisor’s Turf Cost Guide for cost and installation of turf.
Your kids’ playground will always be their oasis. They’ll climb, tumble, and fall, and to make it more stress-free for you, playground turf is the way to go. They’ll stay safe during their activities while you sit back and relax.