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Turf - Clay - Play??

Hi All, need a bit of advice.
Basically small south facing garden in London Clay, despite the southerly aspect, neighbours trees, homes and fence cast a lot of shadows.

Garden turfed area is going to be about 4 to 5m by 8m square.  The area will be home to a swing and a slide and hopefully not a trampoline.

We returfed about 2 years ago and almost bare now, hardly used the garden and its like the Somme, slippery and muddy.  With our child playing in this, it's going to be a case of muddy puddles.

1. Will turf work and if so what to do to the soil, seeds etc
2. Will the grass mats help save the grass under swing or use it on the whole patch
3. Any alternatives to grass, other plants?
4. Use artificial turf except for the borders?

I have a different thread going on the actual area design if it can help

Many thanks for all your kind help


  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,058
    I agree that grass is going to get hammered. Grass mats will probably end up looking ugly as the grass will still be worn away, exposing the mats. You could do artificial turf. Alternatively think out of the box, and create play zones with bark surfacing and paths/hard areas surrounded by luxurious (tough) planting - forgetting the idea of a lawn entirely. Break up the space with fairly tall planting to create a sense of exploration. (Miscanthis is great for this, or bamboo if you can constrain the roots).

    Play bark is a bit messy and needs topping up regularly, so something like Tigermulch would be more low maintenance (but more expensive).
  • Thanks a lot, so kind of confirms my fear about grass not being able to survive!  I like the ideas and just googled and found out what Tigermulch is :) Thanks!
    Lots of food for thought
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