Can You Use Regular Mulch For Playground

Can You Use Regular Mulch For Playground? +[Dos and Don’ts]

You have kids, and you understand the importance of exercise on kids. However, there’s a problem -your kids’ playground is a mess and hazardous. It’s urgent, and you need a permanent fix. 

But here’s a million dollar question, can you use regular mulch for playgrounds? 

Yes, regular mulch is great for playgrounds. Plus, regular mulch is safe for children to play on, and you only require a depth of 12 inches to install. Also, regular mulch provides a shock-absorbing surface to avoid injury. However, it can obscure hazards like broken glass. 

We’ll discuss in detail the solutions to our question above. Also, at the bottom, you’ll find answers to some major questions. 

You would, therefore, do well to read till the last line of this comprehensive article. 

Can You Use Regular Mulch For Playground?

Yes, you can use regular mulch for your kids’ playing ground. Nevertheless, it’s important to check the properties of your regular mulch. Some do contain toxic chemicals. After ensuring your mulch is toxic-free, go for the fine-sized regular mulch. 

Why? It gives you a springy playground surface that protects the frolic youngsters while playing. 

Did you know that 3.5 million of the accidents on playing grounds result from falling? To prevent this, mulching your playground with regular mulch provides a shock-absorbing surface. Consequently, preventing injury when a child falls off a high swing seat.

What’s more, regular mulch is clean. Thus, you need not be troubled about your kids getting dirty. Plus, it has a decorative effect on playgrounds that gives it a natural-colored taste that blends with any compound.

Also Check – How Much Is Playground Mulch?

Is Regular Mulch Safe For Children To Play On?

Using regular mulch is safe compared to having no protective cover on a playground. Surprisingly, most people know the only use for regular mulch as topping plants in gardens or landscaping projects. Thus, raising the concern of parents about what to look for when purchasing regular mulch for playgrounds.

It’s, therefore, important to consider the quality of the regular mulch before installing. So, what should you consider?

The Size Of The Regular Mulch Chips

Large and rough chips in a mulch are not a good idea. Here’s what I’m saying – large chips can cause splinters on your child’s skin. It may not be a major deal to some. However, it’s something to consider, especially for toddlers with soft skins. 

Fine chipped regular mulch is what you need to keep those soft hands and knees safe while crawling and jumping up and down on the playground.

The Composition For The Regular Mulch

Some regular mulch does contain toxic chemicals like chromated copper arsenic. The composition of your regular mulch majorly depends on where you source it. Therefore, before buying any regular mulch, know its composition. Know what it was used for before purchasing it. Purchasing contaminated regular mulch can be harmful to your kids.

It’s also significant to check whether your child is allergic to the regular mulch as most are composed of natural products like wood, tree berks, and yards. After all, the kids’ safety comes first.

How Do You Install Regular Mulch For a Playground?

Installing regular mulch is a DIY project. You don’t need to hire experts -you only require some muscles, something to level the ground with – a rake will do, your regular mulch, and a weed barrier fabric.

That’s all, and you’re good to go. Even so, you may need protective gear to wear too.

Before you install the mulch, it’s important to aim for one thing — QUALITY. Remember, the goal of the project is to have a safe playground. Therefore, ensure your playground meets the required standards when you’re through installing the mulch. 

Surprisingly, some countries even require you to have a certificate for your playground – it’s that serious.

Here’s the guide to follow through. Check it out.

Step 1: Measure Out Your Playground

Mark out the size of the playground. These measurements will help to calculate the amount of regular mulch you require. Remember, the depth of the mulch should be 12 inches. 

If the playground has a definite shape, it’s easy to make the calculations. But if yours isn’t, just make a rough estimate, maybe reduce a bag or two. The aim is to get the right amount of regular mulch that suits your playground.

Step 2: Prepare The Ground 

Remove stones, stamps, and any debris from the area. If you’re beginning from scratch, you need to remove all grass and ensure the ground is well leveled.

Also, ensure the ground is balanced with good drainage. Regular mulch can be wet, especially after rain, and without good drainage, it takes time before drying up. Drainage is key in this stage.

You may need to excavate the ground if you want the mulch to be the same height as the surrounding. Or, you may opt for just clearing the ground and setting a barrier around to keep the mulch in place. 

You may choose to dig a depth of 12 inches or make a barrier of the height of 12 inches, either way, it’s okay.

Step 3: Lay Down a Weed Barrier

After preparing the ground, install a weed barrier fabric. The barrier prevents weeds from growing through the regular mulch, which makes it hard to maintain the mulch. Plus, it’s not easy replacing the regular mulch if you have weeds growing on it. 

Moreover, the fabric barrier helps in drainage, keeping underground from oozing up and mixing with the mulch. Also, it drains rainwater to the desired side.

While installing the fabric barrier, it’s important to have sandbags or anything to hold the fabric in place. It’s not funny when the wind carries the fabric away or tears it up. 

Step 4: Distribute the Regular Mulch

Now you’re on the final step. Bring in the regular mulch. Remember we said the mulch should consist of fine chips and should be enough to reach a height of 8-12 inches

Pour the regular mulch over the fabric barrier and distribute it evenly. Ensure the mulch reaches a depth of 8-12 inches. 

Add more regular mulch on the areas with more traffic. Areas like under the swing seats. Note that you’ll continually need to reassemble the mulch from time to time in these areas.

How Often Do You Need To Top Up Regular Mulch for Playground?

After six months, nevertheless, it depends on the condition of the mulch. Generally, after six months, the chips start to decompose, needing to be topped up. However, in dry areas, the mulch can last for more months, unlike in cold areas.

Again, with the constant traffic on the playground, the standard depth of the mulch does reduce over time. Therefore, it’s important to top up the playground with new regular mulch after six months for depth consistency. 

Else, annually replace the whole old regular mulch with new mulch. Why? When kept over a long period, regular mulch starts to mold. The molds can produce toxins, which can make the playground not safe for children. Plus, mold makes the regular mulch lose its beauty.

Therefore, after 12 months, replace the entire batch with fresh regular mulch. Also, at this time, you can inspect the weed fabric barrier. Consequently, you can patch up the worn out areas, or even level out the foundation to allow drainage before installing the new mulch.

For countries that require certificates from playground owners, topping up your playground means you get to keep your playground and your children continuing to enjoy themselves.

After a year, replace the whole old regular mulch with new mulch. The replacement helps remove the decomposed mulch. At this time, you can repair the weed fabric barrier if it’s worn out.

Pros and Cons Of Using Regular Mulch For Playgrounds?

We’ll consider the advantages and the disadvantages of regular mulch under four subheadings, namely:

  • Cost 
  • Quality
  • Maintenance 
  • Safety

Cost of Installing Regular Mulch on Playground


  • Unlike other mulching materials like rubber mulch, regular mulch is the cheapest. It is also locally available; therefore, there’s no need to spend money on expensive synthetic mulches.
  • The process of producing regular mulch is cheap and affordable, as the materials needed are organic and readily available in most places.
  • In most countries, a square foot of regular mulch goes for about $3 


  • Regular mulch requires topping up after every six months and replacement annually. Meaning you incur the expense of topping up and reinstalling the mulch yearly. 

The Quality of Regular Mulch


  • Regular mulch is 100% organic. It’s, therefore, safe for children to play on without the risk of intoxication. 
  • Regular mulch is decorative. The mulch composition has a natural visual appearance that matches almost any landscape.


  • Regular mulch overtime decomposes and loses its visual effect
  • Regular mulch takes time to dry, especially during cold seasons and doesn’t go well with the kids’ clothes.
  • Kids can get splinters while playing on the mulch.

Maintaining Playground Regular Mulch


  • It’s a DIY project; there’s no need for hiring workers.
  • You only require a garden rake to level the regular mulch.


  • Maintaining regular mulch isn’t a do-it-and-forget-it project — it’s time-consuming.
  • It requires constant attendance like leveling and tiling the mulch after a while 



  • Regular mulch acts as shock absorbers, therefore, a child can safely land from a height of 3 meters.
  • It’s certified as safe for use on playground surfaces by the American Standard Testing Methods.


  • Regular mulch can veil hazards, like broken glass or pins.
  • Risk of choking. It would be best to keep an eye on the kid while playing. Eating the wood chips can cause choking or contamination. 

How To Maintain Regular Mulch on Playground

To ensure your kids are protected from injuries that result from falling, maintaining the regular mulch is essential. Additionally, traffic on the playground eventually causes the mulch to be displaced, needing to be evenly redistributed, especially under swings.

A garden rake comes in handy in maintaining the regular mulch. Use a rake to redistribute the mulch evenly to maintain an 8-12 inches depth in every section. Level the ground as often as possible, but you can still do it once or twice a week. 

Additionally, regular raking breaks the compact mulch and loosens it to offer the softness the children need while playing. 

Maintaining the regular mulch also involves removing debris and clearing drains. It’s also important to check the landscape surrounding the mulch. Pruning trees around the playground provides regular mulch with adequate exposure to sunlight. Hence, keeping the regular mulch dry.


What Do You Put Under Regular Mulch for a Playground?

A water-resistant fabric. The protective layer under the regular mulch prevents weeds from growing through the mulch. 

Can I Install the Mulch Without a Fabric Underneath?

Yes, but it’s not a good idea. Why? You’ll have a difficult time maintaining the regular mulch. For you’ll have weeds growing on the mulch, which will be hard to weed, and during the rainy season, the mulch easily mixes with mud. You don’t want such a mess near your kids! 

Can You Color Regular Mulch?

The short answer is you shouldn’t color your regular mulch. Why? Dyeing regular mulch involves using strong chemicals such as iron oxide-based dyes or carbon-based dyes. Moreover, these chemicals haven’t yet been certified to be safe. It’s, therefore, safe not to do it all. Besides, the natural color is just beautiful.

Does Playground Regular Mulch Get Hot?

Yes, playground regular mulch gets hot, especially the layers covered under the mulch. However, this is something that shouldn’t worry you -it’s harmless. It’s as a result of moisture sealed underneath. 


Regular mulch is safe for any playground surface. The softness works as a shock absorber, protecting your child from falls, even from high heights. 

Moreover, regular mulch is composed of organic matter, hence safe for children. Besides, it has a great natural aesthetic view. 

What’s more? Regular mulch is locally available, making it cheaper than synthetic playground mulches. The advantage of using regular mulch is that installing and maintaining it is a DIY project — no need for hiring experts. 

However, maintaining regular mulch can be time-consuming, as it requires constant leveling and tiling. 

Related Posts:
How Much Is Playground Mulch? + [The Best Type For Playgrounds]
Best Mulch For Playground In 2024
Rubber Mulch Depth For Playground – [How Deep?]
Rubber Mulch Vs. Wood Mulch Vs. Rock: Which Is Better?
All About Mulching + [The Ultimate Guide]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *