It’s been a while since Curt watched Calvin scramble up a climber at the park. Nowadays it’s trees he shinnies up, but he knows that the local park played a role in his son Calvin’s development. So when Jeff Crosby contacted him last fall for assistance in a little project he was undertaking, Curt was all ears. Crosby Landscape and Design had won a tender to rebuild a playground for the Thames Valley School District (TVDSB).
Where did CLC Tree Services come into the picture? Jeff wanted to know if Curt had any wood.
“Of course!” was Curt’s enthusiastic response.
Several truckloads of logs have been delivered since then. Jeff needs a lot of wood for the playgrounds he constructs. They aren’t your typical metal and plastic climbers. In fact, while these designs still hold some traditional elements, like slides and climbing structures, they are a far cry from the metal climbers which burned the hands and bums of youth a few years ago. The vision created by the architect and TVDSB was of playspaces filled with natural elements, open-ended items which children could use their imagination to expand their play with, and a softer space for safer fun to be had.
Crosby Landscape has fulfilled that mandate and taken it further. For every truckload of logs that CLC Tree Services has dropped off, Crosby’s team has built musical instruments, custom art walls, sandboxes, tables and chairs, stages complete with audience seating, climbers made from different heights of stumps, retaining walls, stepping-stones, and so much more.
Gone is the pea gravel, as thick layers of mulch now coat the ground around balance beams. Sand boxes are framed in by thick logs or natural stone slabs. Wooden stages encourage children to embrace their creative side. Or to just enjoy the show from stump seating installed in front. It is all designed to spark play and so far it’s working. Crosby Landscape has built upwards of nine playgrounds already, with another four more in the works before the summer is done. And Jeff is hoping to see a few more tenders sent his way this fall as well.
Byron Somerset Children’s Centre was the recipient of one of those playgrounds this past June. So far it’s a hit with staff and children alike. They love their new play space. It incorporates gardens and planters for the children to plant flowers and edible plants, complete with wooden slab stepping-stones. A quaint wooden bridge is flanked by soft mulch; much easier on tender toddler knees still prone to topple. The art wall is used regularly, as are the play tables, which are perfect for plenty of sensory play.
While one of the favourite places for the children is the sandbox, Jeff has another feature which he is proud of—the Crosby Bear. Every playground he builds has one and they are all unique. At Byron Somerset, it hides in a log planter. At Victoria Public School, where they are working this week, the Crosby Bear will be installed in a totem pole of sorts, complete with a Viking—the school’s mascot. The bears are created by local chainsaw carver Mike Winia and donated by Crosby Landscape. They add another personalized and playful element to a space kids can’t help but love.
The success of the playgrounds has been noticed. Crosby Landscape has been part of playground installations for the Catholic School Board and playgrounds as far away as Sarnia and Corunna. It certainly keeps Jeff’s dedicated crew of 12 busy on top of his other landscape and design projects. And for that he is grateful.
So if the phone rings again at CLC Tree Services with a request for a few more logs for Crosby Landscape, the answer will be yes. Outdoor play helps to build healthy minds and bodies. And if CLC Tree Services can be even a small part of helping make that happen, we are proud to lend a hand. Bring on the Play!