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Synthetic Turf Playground Surfacing


Synthetic turf or grass is one of the fastest growing playground surfacing options for many good reasons.  Not only is it one of the safest, cleanest and most aesthetically appealing surfaces, but it is also highly accessible and ADA compliant.  Plus, while its installation costs are among the highest of any playground surfacing option, this cost is offset over time by its low maintenance requirements and long lifespan. 


Evaluation Criteria

Learn more about the details of the evaluation criteria.

Care & Maintenance
ADA Compliance & Accessibility
Aesthetics & Design
Installation Cost
Lifetime Cost
Synthetic Turf


Safety Rating:

Synthetic turf is one of the safest playground surfacing options available as it is a comfortable and extremely uniform surface built on top of a foam underlayment product designed specifically for the playground market.  This foam underlayment helps reduce the impact of falls - significantly reducing both the quantity and severity of injuries.

Plus, synthetic turf playground surfaces:

  • Do not hide dangerous foreign objects
  • Do not get in the eyes, mouths or hair of children
  • Do not scatter onto walkways and cause tripping or slipping hazards
  • Maintain a uniform impact resistance even in high traffic areas - do not get displaced like loose fill surfacing options
  • Maintain effectiveness even in high humidity and cold temperature
  • Do not support microbial growth - can even include an antimicrobial infill for an added level of protection against bacteria, mold and mildew

Safety Concerns Examined


Some concerns have been raised that synthetic turf surfacing has a static-buildup that can "shock" children and potentially damage hearing aids.  Our experience is that static build-up is an extremely minor issue evident mainly in newly-laid turf that can be easily rectified by spraying the surface with fabric softener.

Extreme heat

Another concern with turf is that it retains too much heat and can be uncomfortable for children.  This is a legitimate concern that affects all synthetic surfaces and most playground equipment.  XGrass has worked to minimize this concern by developing specialized yarns and patterns that reduce the amount of heat absorbed into the turf blades, but caution should be taken when playing in extremely high temperatures.

Note: For the highest safety standards, ensure your synthetic turf surface passes the ASTM F1951 lab test after installation. In order to evaluate the safety of synthetic turf when compared to other playground surfaces view fall heights.

Synthetic Turf


Cleanliness Rating:

One of the largest benefits of installing synthetic turf for children (and parents) is its cleanliness. While bark mulch and engineered wood fiber (EWF) may be initially clean during installation, they quickly pick up dirt, plant matter and debris over time, which transfers to children’s clothes as they play. Synthetic turf is also much cleaner than pea gravel and sand, which can fill shoes and be tracked inside. In addition to these benefits, synthetic turf also:

  • Cannot be thrown or displaced in any way so playgrounds stay clean and safe
  • Drains well and dries quickly
  • Resists bacteria, mold and mildew
Synthetic Turf

Care & Maintenance

Maintenance Rating:

Like most unitary surfaces, synthetic turf requires significantly less maintenance than loose-fill materials since it cannot be displaced.  Aside from periodically blowing off leaves and the occasional replacement of infill, synthetic turf is largely a maintenance-free surface.

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Synthetic Turf

ADA Compliance & Accessibility

Accessibility Rating:

Synthetic turf not only meets ADA requirements for wheelchair accessibility, but it is a very smooth and even surface. It does not displace like loose fill materials or have gaps like rubber tiles and it has no surface imperfections like bonded rubber. These qualities make it an ideal surfacing option for playgrounds designed for younger children and toddlers that don't have as much dexterity as older children.

Synthetic Turf

Aesthetics & Design

Aesthetics Rating:

Synthetic turf offers a natural looking alternative for those who love the appearance of grass without the hassle of maintaining it. Walkways and landscape features can also be incorporated into the design of turf to help direct children around play areas and give your space a unique look.

Synthetic Turf

Installation Cost

Installation Cost Rating:

Properly installing a synthetic turf playground surface requires several steps that should be performed by an experienced professional to ensure its longevity. First, the installation site is prepared for rainwater drainage with corrugated pipes and two layers of compacted stone. Once this is complete, a foam underlayment pad is laid to give the turf its impact-absorbing abilities. The synthetic turf and infill is then installed over the foam padding. This process typically takes only a few days for most installations but can take longer for large-scale projects.

Synthetic Turf

Lifetime Costs

Lifetime Costs Rating:

As with all unitary playground surfaces, the initial investment in site preparation and installation is higher than for natural materials, however this cost is largely recouped over the turf’s lifetime as it requires minimal upkeep or maintenance. One must also consider that there are a variety of synthetic turf and padding options, which can have an impact on cost. Consult with a synthetic turf supplier to determine the best options for your application.

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