It’s a question we often get asked when we are planning someone’s back garden play area.
“How much space do we have to leave around the equipment ?”
Well, the correct answer is what the standard (EN1171 if you are curious) lays down. And that is 2m all round.
Now obviously its not as simple as that. Firstly, being the UK, not everyone has a huge back garden to devote this much space to their play equipment. Especially when there are other competing demands for the precious back garden – patio, BBQ, room to kick a football around or just lawn, shrubs and trees.
Secondly, there are usually some sides of the equipment where there is no danger of falling; the end of the swing beam for example. But, having said that, we would never recommend compromising on a couple of key areas
– in front of the slide
– in front of/behind the swings
Ideally we would want 3m in front of/behind the swing beam and 2m in front of the slide. Usually we can manage the swing safety margin without too much difficulty as the way our equipment is designed allows some flexibility on the actual layout. Then we like 1.5m at the end of our climbing ramps and nets (which, coincidentally is what the commercial playground standards require).
Don’t ask why the residential standard (where a couple of children are playing in a back garden) is more demanding than the commercial standard – where you could have dozens of kids of all ages, sizes and abilities playing on the same apparatus. We don’t know of a sensible reason for that.
So what we preach is flexibility and common sense. Don’t compromise in the key safety areas but be aware of where you can give a little. But one word of caution. The final responsibility for the siting and orientation of the play equipment has to lie with the client; and although we can give advice, the EN1172 Standard still applies (see above) .