I had not planned to do a major renovation of our outdoor play space this year. My husband and I have been talking about it for a few years now but no date had been set because we were still unsure what we were going to do. The problem was the ground level deck. It had originally been built more than 12 years ago – back when the ancient maple tree was still there;
Over the years there had been many changes including the removal of most of the old tree and the addition of a covered seating area.
Most recently the old tree stump was completely removed to make room for the new fence and the plexiglass painting area was added to the seating area;
Through regular maintenance several deck boards had been replaced and the deck had been stained or painted many times. It had gotten to the point where any further cosmetic repairs were futile because the underlying structure was near the end of its life.
I priced out the cost of rebuilding the entire deck and discovered that the lumber alone would be more than four times the total cost of the original deck and so labour intensive. If we were going to have to pay that much then maybe there were other ground surface options.
We discussed the possibility of making a patio but didn’t like the idea of cement bricks. I really liked the rubber patio pavers that I had been using on the deck but I worried that they would get too hot if I covered the entire area with them.
I liked many of the eco friendly – and local – products available at http://reliabletirerecycling.ca but their site doesn’t list prices. My email requests were answered promptly but only resulted in a suggestion that I come down in person – they are not open evenings or weekends when I can get there.
Then I remembered something that I had heard about at MCCA’s conference last May. I quickly scoured my notes to find it. The workshop – presented by the amazing Bienenstock’s – had been about designing natural outdoor play spaces and we had spent part of our time creating models like this;
Many of my friends and colleagues questioned why I chose that workshop since I already seem adept in this area. However, I knew I’d enjoy it and there is always a chance to learn something new – and I did. During a discussion about the wear and tear on grassy areas we heard about Durolawn.
Now, I will admit that I am not patient enough to wait once I get one of my ‘ideas’ so of course I needed to start work on this immediately. 🙂 No time to order supplies especially when I knew a place I could get a similar product today. The salesclerk at Jysk seemed somewhat stunned when I bought 50 rubber mats. Pictured upside down on their site here these mats do really look exactly like Durolawn and they were on sale too!
So now, after four solid 12 hour days of yard work over two weekends our deck area looks like this;
I created a pattern with the two different types of tiles. The brown rubber tiles will remain solid rubber but the spaces in the black mats will eventually fill with grass. I just planted the grass seeds yesterday but I’ve already checked several times to see if any grass is growing – remember, waiting for results is not my forte.
We’ve also reused the old bathtub and door from our bathroom remodel as a water table and art wall. The plexiglass painting area has been moved to form a new wall to support the arbour extension over the walkway and provide a border for the gravel area;
We also have a lovely new water barrel from Fort Whyte – yeah, more recycling;
My husband decided I needed an overhead view of the yard so he took my camera and climbed up on the roof;
In the future I hope to have some more pictures of the various areas ‘in use’ and of course – some grass too. Hey, maybe I’ll host the next committee meeting for the upcoming Manitoba Nature Summit — we could play outside while we plan for ways to engage children with nature.