TM 5-803-11/AFJMAN 32-10139
f. Erosion Control. Both weather and children at
play can cause significant erosion in play areas.
Plants and natural ground covers add diversity
Plants with shallow, lateral root systems bind the
and seasonal change to children's outdoor play ar-
soil to resist erosion. Creeping species of ground
eas. Plant materials should be integrated into play
cover generally have good powers of rejuvenation
areas. Plant materials enhance site aesthetics, pro-
and are suitable for heavily used areas. Ground
vide shade, and support memorable play experi-
covers with wide leaves rather than fine leaves are
ences. People of all ages respond to natural ground
more durable. Broad-leaved deciduous trees help
covering, flowering shrubs, deciduous trees, banked
control erosion by extending the runoff time and
borders of flowers, herb gardens, and imaginative
promoting percolation of water back into the
garden designs. This chapter describes the uses of
ground. Tree roots stabilize soil on hillsides and
plants and natural ground covering in children's
outdoor play areas, play activities supported by
Trees and shrubs used as windbreaks mitigate the
plant material, and plant selection criteria.
erosion caused by wind.
12-2. Uses of Plant Material.
user contact with plant materials should be pro-
The variety of functional uses that plant material
vided while protecting plants from permanent dam-
can serve should be considered when developing a
conceptual design for children's outdoor play areas.
Additional guidance is provided in TM 580313/
(1) Barriers. Barriers, such as low walls,
should be used to protect plants from excessive
a.. Barriers. Plant material should be used to cre-
damage and provide children with plant contact.
ate or enhance barriers and enclosures. Turf and
(2) Plant Selection. Plants best suited for sur-
ground cover create natural edges to define play
vival in children's outdoor play areas should be se-
component areas. Plants provide more depth, inter-
est, and spatial variety than fencing.
(3) Circulation. Pathways that consider antici-
b. Screens. Plant screens of evergreen trees and
pated circulation routes should be provided to avoid
shrubs can serve as visual barriers. Vine-covered
unnecessary erosion and replanting.
fences and densely branched deciduous plants may
(4) Restrict Access. Human access to planting
also serve these purposes. Design requirements and
areas should be restricted when necessary to reduce
the plant's natural characteristics, such as height,
environmental impacts. Foot traffic may be discour-
spread, and density, should be matched to create a
aged by providing plant materials with denser
c. Transitions. Transitional plantings alert chil-
h. Play. The use of' plant materials to support
dren to changes in activities or use of spaces. Plants
play activities is described in detail in this chapter.
soften the transition between indoors and outdoors,
i. Sensory Stimulation. Plants and ground covers
allowing people to adjust more easily to changes in
provide greater sensory stimulation than synthetic,
manufactured objects, Plants respond to weather
d. Landmarks. Objects with a clear visual iden-
variations and seasonal cycles, and provide varied
tity, such as trees, large shrubs, and familiar group-
textures, colors, forms, fragrances, and sounds.
ings of plants, function as landmarks. Landmarks
(1) Identity. Distinctive plantings and speci-
provide the user with a memorable sense of place
men plants should be included to provide visual
and a feeling of security.
identity and to create a sense of place in children's
e. Climate Modification. Vegetation is an effective
outdoor play areas.
climate modifier. Plants provide a greater variety of
(2) Seasonal Change. Plant types that display
microclimates than manmade structures. For chil-
seasonal change should be selected to provide sen-
dren's play areas, adequate shade is extremely im-
sory stimulation and educational opportunities. The
portant in hot climates. Natural shade in play areas
effects of seasonal change on climate modification
encourages day-long summertime use. Trees and
efforts should be considered.
shrubs also provide shelter from the wind. Spread-
(3) Movement. Plants can enhance the experi-
ing, deciduous tree species provide shade in sum
ence of movement through the play area. Plants can
mer and shed leaves to let in winter sun.