Did you know that safety in the playground begins from the ground up? So, if you’re considering a playground, you need to get the ideal groundcover. Most importantly, the groundcover should promote safe play and help to prevent/reduce any injury.
Therefore, a good playground material should do more than boost the desired aesthetics. However, choosing the best mulch for playground under a swing set or the whole playground can be overwhelming.
Even with the endless options available in the market, some materials are better than others in preventing life-threatening injuries.
Count yourself lucky today! This easy-to-read guide allows you to choose the best material for your playground groundcover.
So, if you’re still on the fence, keep reading to the end.
Also Check: Best Rubber Mats For Playground
Top 7 Best Mulch for Playground
1. Rubber Nuggets Mulch
Thanks to its comprehensive color options and reliability, rubber nuggets mulch is the ultimate choice for playgrounds. See why it tops this list;
- Best impact absorption: Generally, rubber mulch for playgrounds has the best absorption of all materials. The required depth of 6 inches can protect even the highest falls of up to 10 feet high. However, rubber nuggets mulch requires carefully monitoring to ensure adequate ground cover, especially in highly-trafficked areas due to the increased risk of displacement.
- Zero maintenance: When it comes to caring, rubber nuggets mulch requires the least amount. That’s why it comes with a high upfront cost.
- Durable: Rubber nuggets can last you for the longest time possible. Therefore replacement is the least of your worry hence low cost eventually.
- Wide color range: Though it doesn’t appear as natural as wood mulch, it comes in a wide color range, including earth tones. Therefore, you can have a favorable choice to match the playground equipment, landscape, and décor.
- Low maintenance
- It prevents weeds and fungus
- It doesn’t wash or blow away
- Easy to install
- It contains chemical components hence not ecological
- It doesn’t decompose even after use
2. Wood: Pine Bark Mulch
The pine bark mulch for a playground is your best bet if you’re looking for a choice that’s durable and good-looking at the same time. Find out the advantages of pine bark mulch above other natural options below;
- Safe to use: Pine bark mulch for the playground is averagely safe. First, it provides proper shock absorption with a required depth of 9 inches to protect falls from up to seven feet high. Also, its slip resistance is admirable, not to mention its ability to absorb and drain moisture.
- Easy to maintain: For maintenance, pine bark mulch requires frequent replacement. This is an organic type of mulch, and it decomposes quickly and hence wears down. Still, you’ll have a regular cleaning task with wood mulch due to its messy side ending up in the wrong spots. However, frequent redistribution is necessary for wood mulch because it moves around quickly in areas with high traffic.
- Readily available: Generally, wood mulch is cheap, readily available, and easy to install. Even with the lower cost than the other options, in the long run, wood mulch becomes expensive. This is because it requires yearly replacement and continuous raking for optimal coverage.
- Pleasant appearance: It offers a pleasing natural aesthetic that blends easily with any landscape. Though this pine bark doesn’t have other color options, it retains its natural brown color longer. Still, you can get it from small to larger pieces in different hardness.
- Naturally beautiful
- Easy to install
- Low upfront cost
- Slip and shock-resistant
- Maintains moist soil
- Environmentally friendly
- It has high maintenance needs
- It’s a choking hazard for younger kids
3. Pea Gravel Mulch
Pea gravel is the way to go when you want to save on cost and avoid options that can easily wash or blow away. There’s more;
- Adequate support: Although pea gravel doesn’t come with the best impact absorption, it still has some support of nine inches depth for five feet high protection. Also, it requires frequent raking because it redistributes on heavy use.
- Clean: In terms of cleanliness, you’d be happy to know that pea gravel maintains enough cleanliness that keeps away germs.
- Durable: Pea gravel provides a lasting service thanks to its stony surface. However, once the pieces break into smaller pieces, you need to replace the pea gravel immediately as it can be dangerous to fall on.
- Low upfront cost: Pea gravel has low upfront but high maintenance costs. Because it breaks down eventually, you need frequent replacement to guarantee extreme safety, which brings the price up over time.
- Naturally attractive: Pea gravel features several natural colors and shapes that make the play area attractive. Still, it provides a natural look that matches the existing landscape.
- Wide color range and shapes
- Cleans and prevents germs
- Fair support and shock absorption
- It’s not accessible for disabled children, especially those with wheelchairs
- It’s a choking hazard and not safe for high playground equipment
4. Artificial Turf Mulch
Artificial turf grass is among the best choices for children’s playgrounds globally. It mimics the appearance of natural grass and eliminates mowing, watering, and weed application.
- Slip-resistant: Artificial turf has better slip resistance even for disabled children than ordinary natural grass. Remarkably, synthetic grass is safe for children’s playgrounds because it’s more soft-cushioned than grass.
- Less maintenance: After installing the artificial turf, the maintenance required is less. However, to ensure it maintains a new and excellent look at all times, you must occasionally rinse to remove dirt. Additionally, parents don’t have to worry about kids dragging dirt and grass in the house after playtime.
- Long-lasting: Because it’s artificial, rest assured of durability because it deteriorates less often. This is because factors like extreme weather conditions won’t have a harmful effect like on natural grass.
- Easy to install: Synthetic grass doesn’t come cheap. However, the ongoing maintenance is low and eventually saves you both time and money.
- Ever-green aesthetics: The aesthetics of artificial turf are on a higher level than natural grass. Because it’s always green, it appears fresh, hence blends and complements your landscape and play area. But, also ensure the surrounding turf is well-kept so as not to make the synthetic grass look misplaced.
- Soft and well-cushioned
- Less maintenance
- Excellent slip resistance
- Beautiful and fresh looking
- High quality and durable
- Easy to install
- It comes with a high initial cost
- It heats up in the sun
5. Rubber Tiles Mulch
Overview: Poured rubber or rubber tiles offer utmost protection for high-quality impact absorption in the playground, and it doesn’t splinter. Check out below why it’s a favorite for most parents.
- High safety standards: Fortunately, this type of rubber tiles meets the ASTM standards as it’s a high consideration for purchase. Unlike rubber mulch, poured rubber ensures utmost safety where nothing harmful can drop and hide in-between. RevTime is also adequately thick, making it an ideal solution for toddlers in the playground.
- Comfortable and durable: It’s durable, wear-resistant, and has excellent elasticity, making it feel very soft when stepped on. Even in the rain, the construction material is microporous, breathable, absorbent, and slip-resistant. This is an excellent outdoor ground cover choice, especially for playgrounds.
- Easy to maintain: It’s easy to install and care for. It requires sweeping or washing and replacement only when necessary. But generally, this rubber tile is long-lasting with most minor upkeep demands.
- Cost-saving: The installation process is also cost-saving because it doesn’t require you to buy any adhesive. Also, it comes as a value pack of 4, which reduces the cost of buying one piece separately.
- Easy to install: It features a pole-connecting design that provides excellent stability and stretches to cover larger areas.
- High-quality: RevTime offers value for your money. The quality is unquestionable as it’s resilient enough to withstand easy wear and tear and changing weather conditions.
- Comfortable and attractive: It doesn’t absorb a lot of heat. Hence comfortable to step on and skin-friendly to avoid scratching and bruising in times of falls. Plus, RevTime has an attractive color that easily blends with the surrounding landscape and playground equipment.
- 1-inch thickness for impact absorption
- High-quality material for durability
- Radiant color and skin-friendly texture
- Cost-saving with a value pack
- Extremely safe, not hiding anything harmful
- Slip-resistant even in the rain
- It fades eventually from sun exposure
- It cannot blend with the loose ground due to unevenness
6. Natural Grass
Grass offers a friendly and familiar feel, and its natural appearance makes it ideal for playground ground cover. Better still, it’s very affordable and available.
- Prevents soil erosion: Growing binds the soil together with its root system. As a result, it grows as a protective layer able to prevent soil erosion in different ways.
- Air-freshening: Natural grass filters the air by trapping and removing dust and impurities from the air. Through photosynthesis, grass absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen for human use.
- Easy to grow: Smart Seed natural grass comes with adequate fertilizer to help boost the growth of your seed. This way, there’s guaranteed growth.
- Durable: It is durable thanks to its ability to resist drought and diseases. So, you won’t need to replace it often since it’s resilient.
- Affordable and available: A 7lbs bag of Smart Seed covers up to 2,330 sq. ft. and takes a maximum of 21 days for complete growth. This reduces the cost of buying many bags and money and time-consuming routine for a long time to achieve desired growth. But, the high amount of maintenance makes it a costly option with time.
- Naturally beautiful: Nothing beats the natural appearance of well-growing grass in the playground. It provides an inviting and fresh look. Still, it blends well with any surroundings and play equipment available.
Just ensure you keep up with the upkeep routine so as not to cause browning or drying of the grass. This destroys the appeal and affects safety.
- Absorbs carbon dioxide to provide fresh air
- Prevents soil erosion
- Relaxing appearance and scent
- Easy and quick to grow
- Soft landing compared to wood
- It requires a high amount of maintenance
- It’s dangerous when wet
7. Sand Mulch
Overview: Sand is a standard option for playground ground covers since it’s readily available, affordable, and familiar. What’s more?
- Safe for falls: Unlike a hard or rigid surface, sand is more compressible ad deformable. So, it reduces the momentum of the fall hence more minor injury.
- Easy to access: Sand is a highly affordable option that you can find in many areas. It’s also effortless to install sand mulch as ground cover in your playground.
- Aesthetics: If you’re after that natural aesthetic, sand mulch takes the trophy. It blends well with most landscapes as long as it remains clean.
- Affordable and readily available
- Easy to install
- Naturally attractive
- Safe for low height playground equipment
- It requires treatment to ensure no growth of bacteria and insect infestation
- You must use a lot of sand to provide adequate impact absorption
Deciding on the best mulch for the playground can be difficult. Besides, you don’t want to make a wrong decision and regret it forever.
Therefore, it would help to consider the below considerations before purchase.
The most crucial reason the above options are on this list is safety. Therefore, it’s best to find out their level of protection for playground use depending on the age of the children.
Nonetheless, natural options are the best for safety because they have no chemicals. But, it’s also important to consider impact absorption because most playgrounds have play equipment that could make kids fall from high levels.
While maintaining cleanliness in the kids’ play area is crucial, you don’t want mulch that would have you close down for an extended period for maintenance. Most importantly, it would help if you looked for easy-to-maintain options that are also easy to repair in case of any damage.
Still, it would be best to get an option that requires little to no financial input anytime you need maintenance. Above all, look for the ideal mulch that ensures no closing of the playground anytime you want to clean or repair it.
Playtime is a fun time for kids and even parents. Therefore, when choosing the perfect playground cover, ensure you go for an option that doesn’t look gloomy.
You want a beautiful play area that makes kids look forward to playtime. Still, an attractive playground improves the appearance of your compound or neighborhood.
Regardless of the many options available for playground mulch, ensure you choose one that fits your budget. But, how do you do that?
Firstly, take your time to research the favorable options available. Before jumping on the cheapest option, ensure you factor in safety, maintenance, installation costs, and durability.
Remember not to compromise on the crucial factors just because you want cheap playground mulch. Sometimes, cheap comes with undesirable results; hence not worth it after all.
What’s The Best Material to Use under a Swing Set?
The best material to use under a swing set is rubber mulch. However, it can vary based on the height and location of the swing and the age of the kids.
Which Is The Best Playground Mulch?
According to thorough research, wood playground mulch is an excellent option for playground mulch. It offers adequate shock absorption and good slip resistance. Plus, it drains and absorbs moisture properly.
How Deep Should Your Playground Mulch Be?
Generally, the proper depth for playground mulch is about 8-12 inches, but playgrounds are different. This is because other materials and equipment heights have varying depth requirements for safety surfacing.
What Is The Safest Playground Mulch?
Rubber nuggets are by far the safest playground mulch to use. It’s non-toxic and safe to use around kids and pets. Also, it provides high-impact absorption for falls as high as 10 feet.
What Is The Most Effective Playground Mulch?
Pine bark is the most effective playground mulch with excellent abilities to cushion impacts and falls. Moreover, it’s easy to install at the desired depth and easy to maintain. Pine bark is also readily available in most local stores at an affordable rate.
What Can I Use Instead Of Rubber Mulch For Playground?
If you need an alternative for rubber mulch for the playground, go for pine bark or wood chips. Like rubber, this is an excellent choice for playground cover because of the great shock absorbency that reduces and prevents injuries from falls. Plus, wood chips shed moisture, which is useful for soil quality.
The above listed are top-rated options of the best mulch for playgrounds. All the possibilities feature distinct pros and cons and are ideal for different situations.
While the choosing process can take time and money, it’s worth remembering that nothing beats the safety and comfort of your kids during playtime.
Therefore, it’s your responsibility to choose the best fit according to your plans. But rest assured of satisfaction regardless of your choice.