How Deep Should Rubber Mulch Be

How Deep Should Rubber Mulch Be?

It’s time for an upgrade! 

Playgrounds, gardens, and landscaping have come a long way. A few decades ago, wood chips, straws, and gravel were the common mulches used.

Fortunately, times change-making people go for lasting, aesthetic, safer, and eco-friendly choices. So, if you’re considering change, rubber mulch qualifies as an excellent option for multiple purposes.

Even with numerous advantages over other mulches, most buyers want to know; how deep should rubber mulch be?

Rubber mulch for landscaping and gardening should be 1-2 inches deep. Playground rubber mulch requires a depth of 3-6 inches to sufficiently cushion falls from 6-12 feet, meeting the playground safety standards. Nonetheless, several factors determine the proper depth for your surface.

Keep reading to learn more about rubber mulch installation.

How Deep Should Rubber Mulch Be?

The recommended depth for rubber mulch depends on the particular use. A maximum of 2 inches for gardening and 6 inches for a playground is ideal.

Though not as effective as organic mulches around plants, 2 inches of rubber mulch is excellent for landscaping because of its durability and wide color range. Still, some gardeners use rubber mulch around their plants for a few reasons. For example; it doesn’t attract pests and diseases, and it doesn’t rot. This thickness also adequately retains moisture in the soil and improves the effects of fertilizer on plants.

Conversely, the standard rubber mulch depth for playgrounds depends on the size of the area. Usually, a commercial playground requires a maximum thickness of 5-6 inches all over the zone. 5inches provides adequate protection from a critical fall from 12 feet high, while 6 inches cushions from as high as 16 feet.

Most importantly, ensure even distribution of the thickness of rubber mulch when installing. The uneven thickness creates gaps in some areas hence less protection and danger in case of a fall.

How to Measure Rubber Mulch for Playground

Break your zone into small rectangles to effectively measure the amount of rubber mulch you need for your playground. Then, take the length and the width and multiply them to get the square footage of each rectangle. 

Let’s expound;

For instance, a rectangle of 16 feet by 5 feet equals 80 feet square. Next, add the square footage of all the rectangles to get the total square feet of the whole zone. After that, get the product of the total square feet and 14 to know how much rubber mulch you need.

Nonetheless, maths isn’t for everyone. So, online calculators are an easy way to help you calculate how much rubber mulch you need. Using the calculator requires inputting the zone length, width, and depth for mulching.

Remember, the depth of the rubber mulch determines how much you’ll use.

How to Install Rubber Mulch for Playground

Rubber mulch is ideal for a fun and zero-maintenance play area surface. Additionally, it’s essential to know how to install playground rubber mulch. This way, you’re sure of maximum protection and fun memories for the kids.

Though playgrounds are different, rubber mulch is a great surface material for most residential and large-scale play parks.

The step-by-step guide below helps you accomplish a DIY playground mulching in the shortest time possible yet practical. But, it would help to have a professional look at your ready playground before it’s open for use. Consulting a professional ensures your playground meets the required standards within any local permits.

Let’s begin.

Tools needed;

  • Landscaping rake
  • Outdoor scissors or shears

Define Your Play Area

If you’re starting to construct a playground from scratch, you need to have a defined play area and install the necessary equipment.

Preferably, have a playground within surrounding walls to help define the edge. This way, kids understand how far they can use even in areas without play equipment.

Sort Proper Drainage

After defining your playground, it’s vital to ensure it has proper drainage. Proper playground drainage means having a consistent slope for water to shed in one direction from the play area.

If you have no slope, it helps to have more than one drain. Besides, some people use both a landscape surface drain and a slope to help trap the water as it goes to the playground edges.

However, having drains in many playgrounds is usually overkill. Ensure your slope is smooth and consistent without any slow spots. Slow spots cause water pooling, becoming a mosquito breeding spot, or making your rubber mulch turn into a rubber mulch soup. That’s bad, right?

Also, strip down the mulching area, ensuring a firm and dirt surface. Ideally, remove existing sod and press down the surface for a final even dirt base.

Put Borders

Borders are crucial in any play area to ensure the shredded rubber mulch remains intact. The lack of adequately installed fences allows the rubber mulch to wash or blow away.

Moreover, borders enable proper depth of mulch to cushion falls. Here’s how.

A playground with no borders allows the mulch to spread thin in areas with high traffic. Consequently, it becomes risky to trip or fall in those places.

Like rubber mulch, you can buy borders in any shape, material, and color you desire. This way, it’s easy to make your playground look tidy and colorful, just the way kids love. Plus, installing borders is a breeze using a secure interlocking design.

Lay Down Weed Barrier

Whether your land is prone to weeds or not, installing a weed barrier is essential. So, after putting your borders in place, lay down a weed-blocking fabric over the readily-prepared dirt. Usually, a weed barrier is the last step in preparing your refreshed play area for a better outcome.

According to the experts, a weed barrier helps significantly prevent the growth of weeds, especially under the rubber mulch. Thus, you achieve an attractive and clean playground that requires little to zero maintenance.

Spread the Rubber Mulch

Finally, the fun part!

Spreading the mulch should be easy and convenient. Therefore, ensure your supplier delivers the required rubber mulch to your playground area. This provides a few short trips of carrying the bags of rubber mulch for spreading all over the playground.


Take your garden scissors and cut open the bags to make little piles within the newly installed borders in your playground. With your lightweight landscaping rake, spread the piles of shredded mulch around the zone.

Choose a depth. Typically, the depth depends mainly on the expected height of falls. But, a height of 5-6 inches meets the safety recommendations of playground rubber mulch.

Most importantly, focus on the fall zones to achieve extreme safety.

Well, don’t stop yet. Because you want the perfect, durable and safest playground, you can also invest in playground mats for specific areas like under swings and high-traffic spots. Apart from improving the appeal, playground mats also keep the rubber mulch in place for a prolonged period.

Go ahead and jump in; feet first!

Parting Shot

How deep should rubber mulch be? 

Thanks to rubber mulch, weeds in the garden are non-existent, the landscape is durable and beautiful, and most importantly, kids are safe in the playgrounds. Now, you won’t hear of skinned knees, scraped elbows, or severe head injuries.

As explained above, all it takes to obtain the desired results from your rubber mulch is spreading the correct depth/thickness. How do you want to use your rubber mulch?

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Does Rubber Mulch Attract Termites? + [How To Keep Them Out Of Mulch]
How Many Bags of Mulch on a Pallet?
All About Mulching + [The Ultimate Guide]

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