It is easy for us as parents to think we have enough space in our backyard or garden for a play centre. The reality is, unless you measure it, you may end up getting a set that is a little too big to be really safe for your kids. And here’s why.
The image up here is good guide of how much space is you really need when setting up a Cubby House or Play Centre or Swing Set. Without being too prescriptive, the general rule is that you need a border of around 1.5 – 2m around the play centre as safety.
But why do you need a safety zone?
If you think about how any child plays, they will be running round the play area, and if with siblings or friends, trying to catch or avoid one another in their games. That requires space of around 1 and a half shoulder length of children, which roughly works out to around 1.5 to 2m. Then, if you imagine a child sliding down a slide, most will land right in front of the slide, but occasionally they will shoot out further. So you need at least a full body length in front of the slight for them to land and not hit anything like walls, posts, or gravel.
Next imagine how a swing… well swings. It goes out to a maximum of the length of the swing, which is usually around a 1.3 – 1.5m drop. So you need at least the length of the slide plus some in front and behind the swing so that you know your kids aren’t swinging into a wall or bush or fence. On a rare occasion when some kids try to perform stunts, purposefully or accidentally, and fly off the swing, they can land up to 2m away from where they started due to the force of a swing.
If you put all that together you’ll realise that the 1.5 – 2m border around the play centre is really modest.
Another thing to consider is overhead power lines. Australian homes have power lines dangling from the street posts into the home. When assembling a tall cubby house or play centre, you need to make sure that you have a good clearance from these power lines, obviously, for safety.
If you consider all these factors, then you will start to see that there may be less space in your yard then you imagine.
For example, take a medium-sized play centre, that is around 3m by 3m. The actual area you need now needs to be around 5m by 5m with no low hanging cables above the play area; to make sure that you have enough space for the safety zone. This becomes a real factor for many suburbs nowadays where higher density homes of around 250 – 360 sqm. They have yards of no more than 5m by 5m or are oddly shaped to squeeze every inch of space for the home and a small yard, and a shed.
Of course if you are only planning to have a single level cubby house, then the safe zone can be around 1m all round since most of the play will happen only in front and or the sides with the windows. However, it is good to consider that if you were to put a cubby against a wall or fence, with less than a 1m gap between. Airflow between the Cubby and the wall or fence tends to be restricted, creating a lot of humidity. Which means that the chance of wood rot and termites increase due to the damp wood. To mitigate that, you will need to protect the wood with more paint to seal it properly; though with less then a metre of gap, future maintenance of the cubby become difficult.
So there is a lot to think about, when it comes to creating a wonderful play space for your kids that is safe, and fun. Bubby Cubby is happy to help you look through your considerations, and help you find the best outdoor play equipment(s) for your space.