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Home » What to Put Under Swing Set: Best Materials for Playground Surface

What to Put Under Swing Set: Best Materials for Playground Surface

what to put under a swing set, best material for playground surface

You may be wondering what to put under the swing set for your kids’ to play?. The material you put under the swing set may seem not to be a big deal, but certain materials are more likely to prevent life-threatening injuries than others. This will depend on the type of fall also. Today, we will cover some of the best materials for playground surfaces.

Kids need outdoor games for their physical and psychological development and playset is a great way to encourage your children to play outside and be safe as well.

what to put under a swing set, best material for playground surface

So, if you have purchased a swing set for your kids and wondering what to use beneath the ground for the swing set, there are different ground materials that will work well. You just need to select what will be suitable for your situation.

Each ground material under the swing set has its advantages and disadvantages. Today, we cover each material and you will decide which one is best for you.

Why Should You Have a Fall Surface for Your Swing Set

Generally, there is no requirement for a fall surface under a swing set. However, many people choose to have a fall surface for safety reasons.

Using a ground cover under a swing set is a precaution that can reduce the bruising or soreness that follows after an accidental fall. But it is important to know that a fall surface will not prevent or eliminate the risk of falling.

Also Read:

How to move a swing set across the yard or to your new home

What is the Best Material for Playground Surface?

There are many materials you can put underneath the swing set that will act as a safety measure in case the kid falls. Here are some of the ground covers under swing set that you will be able to use as playground cover.

  • Leveled sod (grass) with swing mats to protect from wear and tear
  • Pea gravel
  • Turf or artificial grass
  • Sand
  • Mulch made from wood chips, rubber, recycled tires, etc.

Each of these ground materials has its pros and cons. Let’s look at each separately.

Natural Grass

Natural grass is free and it’s the least impact-absorbing material on this list. Many homeowners choose natural grass as the material for under their children playground surface, though it’s considered an inappropriate playground surface type by the U.S  Consumer Product Safety Commission.

They blend easily with the rest of the backyard, making everything look natural and seamless. With this option, you don’t need to change anything.

natural grass under swing set

However, there are disadvantages to using natural grass. One of them is, it’s difficult to maintain due to trimming when the grass overgrow. Also, things like pests, mold, and other unwanted organisms can grow around the playground.

As the grass also gets worn down, it becomes less shock-absorbent and doesn’t provide the needed cushion against falls.

Grass can also get slippery when the surface is wet and even develop uneven spots causing children to trip.

Natural grass may seem like the least expensive option, but due to a large amount of maintenance required, it can end up being the most expensive option over time.

Artificial Grass or Turf

Artificial grass offers better drainage than regular grass and therefore provides better slip resistance. It also offers a better cushion for the fall surface than natural grass.

Artificial grass is very visually pleasing and complements your landscape beautifully. It’s green always and looks like natural green grass. Here is one of the recommended artificial grass under swing sets.

However, one downside of natural grass is it gets hotter in the sun than regular grass. turf is not a very good impact absorber. So it’s not always recommended as a surface with playground structures that are high off the ground.

The level of impact absorption varies as they have different types of shock pads that can be installed underneath. If you opt for this option, check for the type of padding that it comes with.

Though artificial grass has a high level of installation price, the good thing about them is that they require less maintenance. This can save you lots of money in the long run.

Once artificial grass is installed, it doesn’t take much to maintain them. Just some washing here and there and maybe repairs when the material gets damaged.

Pea Gravel

Don’t have enough budget for artificial grass? then pea gravel is a good option for you. It’s one of the most affordable options that won’t break your bank account.

It is one of the best materials for playground surfaces. You will find it in a lot of parking areas and playgrounds. The natural look of this material makes it blend well in the playground. Plus, pea gravel also inhibits the growing weeds.

pea gravel under swing set

Pea gravel is somewhat rough and can cause abrasion in the case of a child falling or jumping. For toddlers who don’t really know what they are eating can put pea gravel in their mouth and it might cause them to choke.

Another issue worth raising is that pea gravel can hide hazards such as broken glass, so be sure not to take any glassware to the area.

This is because of their coloration and size, they are able to hide these objects effectively. So always do regular inspections for these safety concerns.

However, while this may be of concern to you for toddlers, this won’t be the same if you have bigger children. But even at that, you will need to still supervise them at all times if you have younger children who enjoy playing in the playset.

But the good thing about pea gravel is that it’s inexpensive and relatively attractive, it’s also easy to maintain. That’s why they are common in parks and playgrounds.

If you opt for this option, just be sure to always do regular checks on the playground for hazards and supervise your kids at all times.

Also, it will be good to enclose the swing set area with a border that will prevent the children from carrying the pea gravel into your home or scatter them around the yard. You can check out these rubber playground borders.


Another natural option to put under swing sets is sand. It is less expensive as well than artificial grass and it’s natural. It also gives a natural appeal to the yard.

Sand helps in reducing injury in the case of falls and you can also use the extra sand to create a sandbox for your children.

sand under swing set

While sand is another inexpensive option, it may become a problem if you have outdoor cats. They can turn the sand into a bathroom. You know how cats like hiding their poop. Sand can also attract insects that can get into your house easily.

Furthermore, sand is the messiest option in this list and can be difficult to enclose. It gets into unwanted places, sticks to clothes when wet.

Even with it been difficult to enclose, you can still use rubber playground borders to hold it in order. Otherwise, you will turn your yard into a mini beach.

.now, you will find sand that is specifically designed for playgrounds that much softer and absorbs shock more. This requires you to have a denser layer of sand of at least 9 inches.

Rubber Mulch Playground surface

Rubber mulch is gaining popularity over the years. It’s a luxurious option to have under your swing set. Though it requires an upfront investment, in the long round it pays off.

Furthermore, it requires very little upkeep once it is installed, so you won’t have to spend money maintaining it.

It is also able to cover the base of the yard that you decide to cover and weeds won’t be able to penetrate it, so you don’t have to worry about yard maintenance.

Because most rubber mulch is made from old tires, it may have a strong odor and chemicals that may not be very suitable for small children.

rubber mulch for under swing set

However, you can choose to opt for rubber/vinyl mulch which is odorless after installation.  There are different colors to choose from to match your landscaping and swing set.

This is one of the best materials for playground surfaces that provides the highest level of quality that is weather-resistant and also has good cushioning to absorb the shock of a fall.

check these rubber mulch for playground surfaces on Amazon.

some downsides of rubber mulch are;

  • It can be a choking hazard for small children but is much better compared to other options here. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your small kids when they are on the playground.
  • Another downside is that it will be one of the most permanent decisions for your backyard because other options here may be easier to get rid of, move, etc. but with rubber mulch, you can pretty much only use it for the playground under surface. That’s why you need careful consideration before purchasing it.

Be sure to add an enclosure or some type of boundary for your swing set when using rubber mulch. Though it will not as easily become entrapped in your children’s shoes, it can still spread far and wide and is somewhat difficult to rake back up into the play area.

Wood Mulch

Have ever considered wood mulch for under a swing set in your kid’s playground?. Well, it’s becoming a popular option these days.

You can actually make it yourself or purchase it at your local home improvement store or online. Here are some of the best of the best wood mulch for under the swing set.

There are many benefits to wooden mulch. Primarily, it adds a far superior design element in terms of landscaping. You truly cannot go wrong with this type of base for your swing set in that regard, as there are even options for a variety of wood colors now, too.

The only downside is that as the age in your backyard, the coloration of the wood chips will begin to fade. This is because as they get exposed to the ultra-violet rays and other weather conditions, they fade and will need to be maintained to have their original feel.

Swing Set Mat

A rubber mat for your swing set can be a great option. Thus, if it meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, you can be sure that the mat is free from those pesky wires or toxins you might find in rubber mulch.

The initial cost of a swing set mat can be high but it’s low maintenance and it can greatly increase the safety of the playground. This is one of the best swing set mats.

swing set mat

Because of the thick, heavy, and durable rubber used in making it, it’s one of the best impact absorbers, and plus, it’s easy to use.

Final Thoughts on What to Put Under a Swing Set

Choosing the best material for a playground surface depends on your specific needs. Factors like maintenance, shock absorption, cost, and general safety are all important factors to consider before choosing the right material for under your swing set.

If your main goal is to get the best under material for a swing set for your children and you have the money to afford it, then I recommend you go with the rubber swing set mats.

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