Swing Set Playground Surface Options
You have spent a lot of time researching the perfect play set or swing set for your child and you’ve spent many hours putting the unit together. Your kids are excited to use it for the first time and then as they do, the inevitable happens – they fall off the swing and hit the ground, hard. How the next step plays out depends on the surface under the play set. Is it soft enough to absorb the shock and cushion the fall, minimizing the risk of injury? Or is it hard and you end up in the emergency room?
You need to put some thought into the surface beneath the play set before you install it. It goes without saying that concrete or asphalt below the play set is an absolute no no. Many sets are placed on the grass of a playground or backyard with the idea that the grass will cushion the fall, and while it’s definitely better than asphalt or concrete, it doesn’t go very far in protecting the children. Let’s look at some of the surfaces that you can consider as a base for the set.
Wood Chips or Mulch
This is a commonly-used surface that is cost effective and at the same time environmentally safe. A bed of at least 12 inches deep should be placed under the unit. Wood chips or mulch, as you are aware, are natural products; the surface will break down over time, therefore it will probably need replacing ever so often. But since it’s cost effective, replacement is not a problem.
This surface looks a lot like the surface at a running track. It’s a very good option – possibly the best where safety is concerned – but it can be very expensive. It’s a solution that needs to be done by a professional who will come in and pour two layers – one for cushioning underneath and the top layer for the wear and tear. The thickness of the layers will depend on the height of the play set. Though expensive, it’s very safe and long lasting.
Sand or Gravel
Sand or pea gravel is another cost effective option, but not necessarily the first choice for cushioning children. If you are using either of these media, make sure that you place some kind of framing around the area to hold the material in place. In addition, the material should be loose in the framed area and not compacted, which would be defeating the purpose of the cushioning. You should regularly inspect the fill material for pests or signs that pets have been using the area to relieve themselves, which is a common problem.
Rubber mats have become a very popular base material for play sets because the offer some of the same benefits of poured rubber at a fraction of the cost. They are more hygienic when compared to the loose fill material as they are easily cleaned and they also last for a long time. As with other types of cushioning, the height of the play set will determine the thickness level of the rubber mats, so be sure to work out the ratios properly when using this solution.