Timber – An undervalued playground material

Timber is a fantastic medium for playground equipment. Aside from the aesthetic and tactile advantages (see below), the timbers used by Andrew Smith Timber Creations are hardwearing, long-lasting and resistant to fire and pests.

A common misconception is that timbers do not last as long as plastic and metal play equipment. All playground materials do eventually break down, and while plastic will split and metal will rust, creating laceration risks, timber will deteriorate softly and gradually, meaning the equipment is still safe to use while repairs are organised. With an annual check-up, timber play equipment is extremely long lasting.

Andrew Smith Timber Creations Pty Ltd use sustainably sourced and recycled Australian timbers.
Over time, we have been able to source more Red Ironbark and White Cypress to improve the quality and the longevity of our elements.

White Cypress

Timber Creations have a sustainable source of white cypress that is regularly available for use. White Cypress is a great softwood timber for playgrounds as it is highly durable, not susceptible to Lyctid Borer, resistant to termites, and has an extremely low shrinkage rating. It also has a wonderful scent!

White Cypress has many interesting features like dark brown knots, but a great, very fine texture and beautiful grain that children love to explore, making it perfect for play sculptures.

For more information, download our factsheet, with information sourced from the Australian Standards for Timber – AS1720

Red Ironbark 

We currently have Red Ironbark available, sourced from discarded, recycled trees. Red ironbark is an Australian Hardwood which is highly durable and hardwearing. It is fantastic for outdoor structures, as it is sturdy, reliable, durable and long-lasting in weather-exposed structural applications.

Red Ironbark is also a very beautiful timber, with heartwood colours ranging from a deep red to red-brown, and a distinctive yellow sapwood. It blends seamlessly in outdoor environments.

For more information, download our factsheet, with information sourced from the Australian Standards for Timber – AS1720

Benefits of Timber Elements

Environmental effects

Timber Creations uses recycled timber for all our products, which has a very positive environmental effect. Recycling wood saves massive amounts of heat energy as well as reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Apart from the fantastic environmental advantages of recycling discarded timber (of which there are many), timber products contribute to a wonderful sense of place and beautiful environmental surroundings. Timber elements provide visual continuity with the landscape gives a feeling of spaciousness and tranquillity. Natural materials result in no jarring of colour which creates feeling of peace.

Child Development

Connection to Nature

Children have an inborn inclination and interest in the natural environment and its elements. It makes them feel comfortable and appeals to the senses as it is our biological home; we have an organic connection to nature that we often underestimate (Pelo, 2008).

It has been shown in multiple studies over the last decade that natural settings enhance cognitive abilities, in particular executive functioning. For children and young people it has been shown that exposure to natural elements leads to an increase in attention span and focus, creative thought processes, problem solving abilities, self-discipline and self-regulation as well as reduced stress levels and increased physical and emotional health (Driessnack, 2009).

Developing Naturalistic intelligence

One of the biggest problems of today is concerned with children perceiving themselves as separate from nature. Nature is the dirty, scary thing somewhere out there – no relation at all to their own lives of school, homework and TV. Children need to be able to connect more with nature; studies say it is a necessity for general well-being. The first step towards this is the incorporation of natural elements into their everyday lives; a connection between the scary nature out there and the structural safety of the school playgrounds and parks that they are used to (Dore, 2010).

References
Dore, B. (2010, September 13). Nature helps children learn faster. Hindustan Times. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Driessnack, M. (2009), Children and Nature-Deficit Disorder. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14: 73–75.

Pelo, A. (2008). Rethinking Early Childhood Education. Rethinking Schools, Ltd. Milwaukee, WI.

Upcycling!

Teach students a valuable lesson about reusing and recycling.

All NSW public schools have been directed by the DEC to perform more rigourous checks on the safety conditions of trees on school grounds.

This is important for safety reasons, but may result in taking away the only small connection students have to nature and natural materials!

Trees are also decorative play elements within the school, and students develop attachments to particular trees that they would be sad to see take away with no replacement.Many schools are now in a situation in which they have to remove multiple trees from their grounds.

So keep the trees, but make them safe!

Timber Creations can take potentially dangerous trees and transformCondemned-Trees them into beautiful, functional, natural seating and play pieces that conform to the rigourous KidSafe safety standards.

Often, the work can be completed on-site, and the trees never has to leave the grounds. If this is not practical (such as during school terms when students need to use the area or when specialised workshop equipment must be used), the trees can be delivered to the Timber Creations workshop and are returned as fun, safe play equipment that retains the natural shape and beauty of the tree the students and staff loved.

Turn the departmental directive for the removal of trees into a positive and creative venture by:

  • Keeping durable, quality timber on the site of growth
  • Using the cutting down of trees as an educational programme on-site
  • Creating the “cradle to grave” story of sustainability with trees
  • Less cost than removal from site
  • Having a positive and creative message for parents
  • Community acceptance in lieu of criticism
  • Less use of fuel and transport in removal
  • On-site storage of carbon in lieu of landfill or smoke emissions, less greenhouse gasses
  • But, best of all, the opportunity of your school achieving beautiful assets in your school grounds