The architect had given us a surprise/present of providing rolled out grass instead of us having to wait for grass seed to grow.
It was lush & green & looked fabulous but the down side is that when it wears away there is nothing underneath to replace it. If you look at these series of photos you will see a pristine playground evolve over 6.5 years. I can see why some parents who had children in the class who first moved in were horrified to come back with another child in 2012 & see how 'dirty' the playground had become.
However, we never wanted it to be a space that the children didn't 'own', they took over every space & made it theirs, it's not pretty but it is used 100%.
We are trying to recreate a more natural, soft environment & so have introduced lots of 'loose parts' like tree stumps, logs, bark chippings & most recently christmas tree branches.
In 2007 we lucky enough to get 3 willow dens built - this has allowed us see seasonal changes first hand & they have added another dimension to play.
They give a 'forest feel' to the playground.
I love looking at how the idea of a mud patch has evolved to where pretty much the whole grass area is a mud patch but we still try to define the actual mud patch with logs etc.We started off with a small sandpit - at the time we were happy to just have one! But now we couldn't imagine going back to the tiny 50p shaped one we had & if we were doing it all again we'd have an even bigger one!
Even our outdoor clothing has evolved - we started off with just ponchos then added trousers but quickly realised the ponchos just weren't good enough for heavy rain or water play. We have also learned it's best to tuck trousers into welly boots & then put the rain trousers out over the boots - and the coats are much better over the trousers! Now we have 2 sets of rain gear to allow maximum time out in the rain without having to wait for 1 set to dry.
Who knows what it will look like in another 6.5 years!
I've linked this post up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.