Play Area Surface Comparison


CPA Horticulture are pleased to offer a wide range of play area safety surfaces. All of our play area surfaces are fully certified in accordance with British Standards. Our range includes play sands, both recycled and virgin timber play products and a selection of pine play barks. To learn more about the British Standards and safety recommendations, Wicksteed have produced a great document explaining them which you can download here (

Our wood chipping and bark based products go through various of stages of screening, removing the oversized and dangerous particles.

Play Sand goes through a rigorous process to wash and round the particles, removing any iron content which can stain clothes or damage little one’s eyes.

Every play area is different. If you have large climbing frames, Critical Fall height must be considered when making your choice. If not, the choice will come down to aesthetics, cost and utility.

Some of our products will win the price war on loose loads and lose when bagged so a lot of it comes down to whether you need a bulk load of your play bark or just a few cubic metres.

RoSPA recommend 300mm depth minimum for public play areas, and 150mm for domestic. However these figures should also balanced against the products performance when high standing play equipment is in use.


Whilst also making an effective surface to fall on, play sand’s main function is to develop creativity. It allows children to sculpt, design and strengthen their creative abilities. Play Area Bark and Wood chippings are a free draining, decorative and effective safety surface, ideal for both amenity and domestic home garden areas.


Critical Fall Heights

Play Sand

Our Play Area Sand products are certified for a critical fall height of 4 metres at a depth of 400mm.

Recycled Play Products

Our Amenity Play Fibre has been tested at 200mm depth, 300mm depth, 400mm depth and 500mm depth with a critical fall height at 3.8m, 3.9m, 4.1m and 4.2m respectively. Cushionfall has been tested at 100mm depth and 200mm depth with a critical fall height at 1.4m and 2.5m respectively.

Virgin Timber Play Products

Our Hardwood Play grade chippings have been tested at 100mm depth, 200mm depth and 300mm depth with a critical fall height at 1.8m, 3.7m and 5.2m respectively. Making the hardwood play grade chippings the highest scoring at 300mm depth. Our Softwood play grade chip has been tested at 100mm depth, 200mm depth and 300mm depth and has a critical fall height of 1.6m, 4.4m and 5m respectively.

Play Area Bark Products

Our Pine Play Area Bark chippings have been tested at 100mm depth, 200mm depth and 300mm depth and have a critical fall height of 1.5m, 4.3m and 5m depth respectively. Our Pine Nuggets have also been tested at 100mm, 200mm and 300mm and score slightly differently at 1.6m, 4.1m and 5 depths.


Cost Considerations

Bulk Loose Loads

When ordering loose tipped bulk loads of loose fill play surfaces, as a general rule the recycled wood fibres, wood chips and play area barks go up in scale accordingly. CPA Horticulture has a network of depots to pull from, and this can sometimes change based on the size of vehicle and the distance the lorry has to travel. A sales agent can help you pick the most suitable product based on your individual requirements.

Bagged Bark / Woodchip products

Depending on the volume required for bagged products, it is sometimes cheaper to buy large pallets of smaller bags compared to bulk bags. This is because on a standard pallet, we can fit the equivalent of nearly three bulk bags on, as opposed to just two of most products, which can reduce the price significantly. For large bagged orders (24M3+) large discounts can be arranged as dedicated vehicles will be required.

Bagged versus Loose

Often, when ordering less than 15 cubic metres it will be better to purchase your loose fill safety surface bagged and have it travel through a national palletised freight network. However, this is not always the case, as it depends how close you are to the depot.




Aesthetics will play a large factor in your decision. Our Softwood chippings are a clean, light creamy colour. The hardwood a rich golden colour and the pine play area bark an attractive deep red and purple colour. The deluxe range are similar to their equivalents, however they have had all of the white wood removed and are more uniform in size.

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