If you are planning to build a playground for your kids, the ground material quality is one of the most important things to consider. Even if it’s just a modest backyard swing set, the groundcover should be safe, good-looking, durable and affordable. Nowadays, there are about a dozen different mulch options with various properties, so it may be rather difficult to test them all out on your own. That’s why we’ve arranged this overview of the best materials for just about every playground type you may come up with. And if you need help with any other aspects of gardening or home improvement, feel free to visit bumpercroptimes.com for tons of useful guides and advice.
Sand has been one of the most common playground mulch types for decades, mainly due to the fact it’s cheap, relatively safe and nice-looking. Sand doesn’t provide real protection, but a sufficient layer of clean sand may prevent your children from getting serious traumas. Just don’t forget to rake it from time to time and replenish the sandbox when it becomes too shallow. However, sand is quite annoying in the long term since it can get anywhere.
Pea gravel is one of the cheapest options out there – and its maintenance costs are also almost negligible. But there is still a price to pay since gravel does not provide much protection, and landing on such cover commonly results in bumps and scratches. Small gravel can also be a choking hazard, especially for small children. All in all, pea gravel is an affordable and relatively good-looking material – but it’s more suitable for teens.
Chips are small particles of wood that can make your playground both visually appealing and safe. This mulch type is softer than gravel, but it’s also a bit more expensive. Moreover, it can be littered with things like broken glass or inhabited by insects – and it presents a choking hazard, too. So make sure you rake and replenish your wood chips often to keep it safe and clean. You can also try to replace wood chips with pine bark that shares its qualities but proves to be more durable – if you don’t mind its distinctive reddish color.
Engineered Wood Fiber
Engineered wood fiber is an improved version of wood chips. Unlike common variants, engineered chips get made with increased precision that prevents unwanted things like twigs or other debris from ending up in your backyard. That means engineered wood fiber is safer and more visually appealing – but a bit more expensive, too. If you choose this kind of mulch for your playground, make sure you choose wood chips made from virgin wood since used wood may contain various contaminants.
Real grass is another natural-looking material, but it’s very different from gravel. First of all, it has the highest maintenance cost out of all the popular groundcover options, and you have to mow and water it to keep your lawn safe and good-looking. Moreover, natural grass is slippery when wet, and the overall humidity may damage your playground equipment. So if you don’t have too much resources to tend to your lawn, check out artificial alternatives.
Synthetic grass is a ground material that imitates natural lawn while being much more cost-effective and easier to maintain. Artificial lawns don’t need to be weeded or watered, and while installing them is more expensive, this material may last for years without any attention required. It’s also cleaner and safer than natural grass, so your kids won’t be hurt even after a not-that-soft landing. The only serious problem with this material is that it gets really hot when exposed to the direct sun, so you have to spray it with water once in a while to avoid that.
Rubber mulch is one of the most popular synthetic groundcover options due to its useful qualities. Even a thin layer of crumb rubber provides decent impact protection while allowing excess water to flow through particles freely. This mulch type is durable, wind resistant and relatively cheap – and it comes in all colors. However, you should still be aware that little children can choke on rubber pieces, so don’t leave them unattended while playing on rubber mulch.
Rubber tiles and other rubber-based playground surface materials are becoming more and more popular. These groundcover options are extremely durable, safe and slip resistant, and they provide an even surface which is accessible even for wheelchairs and strollers. They also drain well, preventing puddles from appearing. Unlike rubber mulch, entire tiles of processed rubber don’t require any attention or maintenance: just spray them with a hose from time to time. The only problem with rubber tiles is that they are quite expensive, but it’s the safety of your children you’re paying for.
Keep Your Playground Safe
As you can see, there are many popular playground mulch options, and each of them has its own combination of pros and cons. Some of them are more visually appealing, others provide additional protection – but it’s up to you to decide which qualities are crucial to you. Summing up, rubber tiles seem to be the safest option, and sand is the cheapest one. Don’t forget to share this article and tell us about your favorite mulch options in the comments section – we appreciate your opinion.
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