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climbing frame with bark

Safety Surface Bark

Bark from different tree species have quite different characteristics in terms of texture, performance and durability it's important that you don't use ornamental bark as this will not be suitable safety surface. It's also important to check expected lifespan of any bark you purchase.

Weed control membrane or underlay that is needed to make sure that any plant life doesn't grow through. This is not only an aesthetic thing, but this would bind surfacing together reducing its effectiveness of the surface to reduce impacts. It would essentially become a grass area, whilst this is fine it would defeat the object of putting down bark.

Two common types of bark used in the UK are:

Granular Bark -

Predominantly pine species (Pinus) once laid bark is largely self-levelling however in areas of heavy play weekly raking is needed to even out the loose top layer. In practice, the bottom 200-300mm layer will become compacted to form a firm base with some give. Top layers of bark will stay loose giving easily under initial impact. The upper surface will wear down due to pieces being dislodged or becoming compacted down. These need replacing creating a new loose top layer. Having a ready supply of bark for replacing this to keep a desired critical fall height suitable for your play equipment and protection for a falling child.

This natural, eye pleasing safety surfacing is designed to blend seamlessly with your natural garden environment

Elastic or Supple Barks -

Predominantly spruce species (Picea) this bark will compact forming a firm layer that reducing its effectiveness and reducing the drainage ability. Regular forking and separation will be needed to keep texture consistent throughout. However, a combination of new and old has the most structure and initially improves drainage. Regular top-ups are required and total replacement after a few years. This will be time consuming and increases maintenance costs.

Check for absorption recommendations as set out in the British Standards requirements:

  • BS EN 4790:1987 Fire Tested
  • BS EN 1177 Play Certificate