Archive | April, 2016

Early Years Play Frame

One of my favourite natural play projects, this simple early years play frame provides such a divers range of play opportunities it became the focal point within the garden.

The frame is made from very durable sustainably sourced local hard wood and is very simple to install. Supplied with a variety of smooth poles and planks the children are able to set about transforming the frame into all sorts of wonderful things.

To keep with the natural feel of this play area we installed a timber edge and laid play bark for the surfacing, although this bark does need topping up occasionally I do like it as a play area surface. Although it can be a bit of a pain to top up it is a relatively cheap option as installation time is so quick.


Natural Play frame, den building frame

Natural Play, Early years play frame

A similar play frame being put to good use.

Early years play frame, den building area

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School Grounds

In 2010 -2011 Copper Beech were fortunate enough to be awarded a contract to landscape the school grounds of the new Steiner Academy Hereford. The project took a total of 18 months and included several play areas, kindergarten play spaces and gardens along with teaching spaces and the main school courtyard.

The courtyard, pictured below, is a focal point of the school, a meeting space and teaching area. Part of our brief was to use natural materials for the seating, walls and paving. We used stone from a quarry less than ten miles away to pave the courtyard with traditional “pitching” a technique you may have seen when walking on mountain paths. As you can imagine this took an age but I think it looks great.

School grounds project, Steiner, landscaping

A striking feature in the school courtyard.


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Water Play Rill

I’ve attached a few photos of different styles of stone rill we have made for water play spaces. One rill, at home, was simply ground out of the stone to create a smooth, shallow depression across the patio (much to Helen’s delight!) and several others involving either staggering the paving, laying sets to create a channel or deeper carving of the stone.

I am often asked if the stone becomes slippery after time, surprisingly its never been an issue, however if the water play rill was uses an lot it may be necessary to give it a blast with a jet wash now and then. I really enjoy installing these water play features in private gardens and school playgrounds, I was lucky enough to have parents that would allow me to run the hose pipe for hours while making rivers and dams through the neighbouring woodland so know just how much fun playing with water can be. These days I encourage people to use rain water or recycle the water with either a hand pump or electric pump.

Stone water play channel, natural play, water play rill

The smooth channel running across our patio at Copper Beech central. The water is fed from a large rain water storage tank at the back of the house. Our boys 9 and 11yrs still love to play in this on sunny days and little Anna 1.5yrs finds sitting in it to be delightful, especially just as we are about to go out!

Water play, natural play

With the slate paving set slightly apart we were able to make this small water play rill that again runs from a rain water tank and ends up running into a large sandpit.

Water Play, natural play, playground

As part of a water play space installed at a school in Nuneaton this stone set on edge created a very textured surface, we were able to create a channel that ran around the edge of the circular play area.

natural play products, water play rill

Cut into flagstones this rill could be made any length, the channel is about 10mm deep and the surface is quite textured making lovely ripples and an extra non-slip surface.

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Den Building Kit

I took this photo at the weekend, a den building kit nearly ready for dispatch.

The main frame is pealed and sanded and ready for oiling, all the stainless steel bolts have been cut and labelled. These frames are very easy to assemble, requiring just three holes to be dug and four bolts to fasten the frame together. We are happy to install these frames or sell them with detailed installation instructions and plans.

Each kit comes with rustic poles and planks for endless den building adventures and with a natural canvas cover children will be able to enjoy their constructions in all weathers.

Den Building Kit, natural play, forest school

Hard day in the office!

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Pub Garden Play Frame

This pub garden climbing frame needed to be suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities while fitting into a fairly small area. We incorporated a large sandpit along one side of the area for the smaller children.

The owner of the pub gave us some great feedback with customers really appreciating the addition of this natural play area.

All of our play frames are made form locally sourced hard woods, they are sanded and oiled to give a smooth tactile surface that is durable and hard wearing. With minimal maintenance these frames will last for many years and provide a great play environment for your children.


Pub garden, play frame, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame

pub garden, climbing frame


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Small world play

Further to the previous blog, Anna Olive finding the fairy house and checking out if any one is home! these mini houses are idea for early years small world play and natural play areas.

Small world play

Anna discovering the fairy house

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