Have you been wondering how to put down rubber mulch for playground? Installing rubber mulch is a DIY project that you can do on your own or as a fun family activity. There are easy-to-do and straightforward steps that you can follow.
Before you put down rubber mulch for playground, prepare the ground for rubber mulch by clearing the area. After achieving an even and compact ground, you then put down the rubber mulch by spreading it throughout the area. Keep the rubber mulch in place by putting a rubber barrier around the ground.
Rubber mulch is an excellent choice for playground surfaces due to its numerous advantages. Read on to find out how to install and maintain rubber mulch on the playground.
How Do You Prepare the Playground for Rubber Mulch?
Before laying down the rubber mulch, prepare the playground. A well-prepared ground lays an excellent foundation for a well-done installation.
Here are some of the steps that can guide you on how to prepare your ground:
- Excavation: Excavate the area you identified to lay the rubber mulch. Remove all the grass and the weeds by spraying the ground with weed killer.
Additionally, clear any old playground mulch that can be harmful to a child in the event of a fall.
- Grading the site: It would be best to provide a firm base when preparing the site. Strip all the sod from the site. Then, make the ground compact and even.
- Making the drainage: One of the crucial steps in installing the rubber mulch is ensuring that the site has adequate drainage. You can create a slope to help water drain in one direction.
Alternatively, you can use several drains if a consistent slope is difficult to achieve.
Poor drainage in the playground leads to water pooling. As a result, the area becomes unusable until the water dries out.
- Creating borders: After preparing and grading the site, it’s now time to install borders. The boundaries help to contain the mulch. It’s recommended that you use rubber borders that are safer for kids if they fall.
- Putting down a weed barrier: Weeds can pose a challenge, especially if the playground is on a fertile piece of land. Hence, I recommend installing a weed barrier to keep the freshly-installed rubber mulch tidy.
How to Put Down Rubber Mulch for Playground?
There is a lot of conflicting information on how to put down rubber mulch for playground. However, below are the basic steps to follow when installing the mulch:
1. Laying of the Geofabric
Once you’ve prepared your playground and put the borders in place, lay down the geofabric. Use the landscaping staples to secure it to the ground.
Dig a broad and deep trench enough to bury the edging material halfway for maximum stability.
Geofabric acts as a barrier between the soil and the rubber mulch. As a result, the rubber mulch doesn’t absorb mud from the ground. Mud reduces its shock absorbency.
Additionally, the geofabric also prevents the weeds from growing and blocking the drainage.
When choosing the geofabric, pick the thick non-woven type. It allows water to pass easily through it and keep the soil out. Hence, the geofabric acts as a filter.
2. Spreading the Mulch
Once you have the geofabric in place, spread the mulch. The fastest way is to use a skid loader to lift the supersack containing the mulch from the top.
Then, cut the bottom of the supersack, allowing the skid loader to spread the mulch in large piles throughout the playground.
Also, you can use a wheelbarrow to carry the mulch and make it relatively easy to work with by hand. After spreading the mulch in piles, use shovels or rakes to even out it to a regular depth of 2-4 inches.
Spread and smooth out the rubber mulch to cover the entire area. You can use a wide-tined garden rake to achieve a smooth consistency.
It would be advisable to add more mulch to the areas within the playground where there is a lot of movement. These include areas such as underneath children’s swings and below the exits of slides where mulch is often displaced.
How Do You Keep Rubber Mulch in Place in a Playground?
Loose rubber mulch can be easily displaced when children are playing. Consequently, it increases the chances of falling. Therefore, preventing the mulch from spreading into the surrounding areas is essential.
There are various ways to keep the rubber mulch in place in a playground. A few examples are as below:
- Put a rubber barrier of 6 inches in height around the area you have measured to lay the mulch. It helps you not to spread the mulch too thinly. Also, the barrier prevents the mulch from drifting into the area surrounding the playgroup.
- Additionally, a 6 inches height prevents the children from tripping when running out of the playground.
- In the geofabric, cut holes to allow the swing supports to pass through. As well as any flowers you may have on the playground. To avoid the fabric seams from coming apart, overlap them by 3 inches.
- Attach your fabric securely to the edges of the area surrounding the rubber mulch. Therefore, preventing the cloth from wrinkling and bunching when the children are playing.
- Choose grade geotextile fabric for your playground and not plastic. This type of landscape fabric prevents weeds from growing in the area. Plastic is also not porous and can become a breeding ground for fungi.
- It would be best to regularly rake the mulch back into place to maintain its depth. The compacted safety depth of the mulch is 12 inches. If it falls below this, it can be hazardous to the kids playing in the playground.
Pros And Cons Of Rubber Mulch For Playgrounds
There are several advantages and disadvantages of using rubber mulch on a playground.
Below, I’ll discuss each of them so that you can consider if you’ll use rubber for playgrounds or not.
- Durable: Rubber mulch is made from old tires. Hence, it’s pretty durable and lasts for a long time. After bonding the rubber mulch, it retains its position. Therefore, you don’t need to replace the mulch regularly.
- Indeed, rubber mulch saves you effort, time, and money in replacing and installing products.
- Has Various Types and Colours: Unlike with other mulch types, there are various options. Hence, you can choose the one that fits your recreational look. You can choose from several designs and colours. The rubber mulch maintains its vibrancy even after stomping by kids.
- Minimal Maintenance: Rubber mulch is not only durable but is flexible as well. Therefore, it requires minimal effort in maintaining it. However, it would be best to sweep the playground regularly, eliminating any dirt that may stick to the mulch.
- Also, it would be best to pressure wash the playground once in a while to scrub away the grime that sticks on the mulch surface. Moreover, remove spilt oil and stuck gum as soon as possible.
- Endures Through Different Weather Seasons: Rubber mulch can withstand wind, hail, snow, and rain. It has a dense weight; as a result, the mulch remains strong even during flooding. Unlike wood, it can withstand wind and isn’t as quickly scattered.
- Shock Absorbent: Kids jump from high places when playing. As a result, using rubber mulch reduces the injuries in such scenarios.
- Environmental Friendly: Rubber mulch is made from old shredded tyres. Hence, it’s an eco-friendly solution to disposing of old tyres. Using rubber mulch keeps tyres from being dumped into landfills.
- Pest Resistant: Rubber mulch doesn’t attract outdoor bugs such as ants and termites as it’s inedible. Also, the absence of algae and fungi discourages the breeding of snails on the playground.
- Costly: Compared to other types of mulches, rubber mulch is a bit more expensive. However, it’s cheap to maintain once correctly installed as it requires minimal repairs.
- Flammable: If this product catches fire, it burns hotter and faster than wood. It’s pretty challenging to put out the fire in burning rubber mulch. Also, burning rubber produces a thick layer of smoke.
Does Rubber Playground Mulch get Hot?
Contrary to popular belief, rubber mulch doesn’t get hotter than most playground services. Rubber is a poor conductor of heat; therefore, the mulch under the surface remains cooler than other materials.
Nevertheless, it would be best to observe caution on playgrounds when playing on hot days regardless of surface materials.
Learning how to put down rubber mulch for playground for a DIY project is as easy as explained above.
Rubber mulch on the playground is a safe bet compared to other surface types as it provides a cushioned landing in case of a fall. The lack of splinters can be reassuring to the parents whenever their children play in the playground.
Moreover, unlike wood, rubber mulch is long-lasting, durable, and doesn’t decay.
If the installation is done correctly, it doesn’t require frequent replacing.
What’s more, rubber mulch is available in a versatile range of colours.