When I started thinking about swing set ground covers, I was going to title this post “do kids really bounce” but I figured I better not because you might think it was a bit to cheeky and that I wasn’t being serious about the subject.
Now here is what the post is really about and it might be a dilemma that probably many of you have thought about. And it goes like this. Should you use ground covers in the play area once you get your kids swing set finally assembled and ready to go, or should you just leave things as they are in your yard and let them have it?
Hopefully this spurs some discussion and you’ll leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments section. Because from the people I have talked to so far, there really is no set in stone answer. Not by a long shot.
Now I will admit the whole idea of having some type of ground cover seems to make common sense, but then I think about generations of kids who had all types of kids swing sets in the backyard, had their friends over, and did all sorts of wild and crazy stuff on the swing set and seemed to have survived quite well thank you.
And yes, I happen to be one of those kids. Sure, I had my share of bumps and bruises from flying off the swings or jumping off the monkey bars and maybe we were all just lucky that nobody ever had to make a trip to the emergency room with a broken bone or a concussion. But enough about ancient history, lets take a look at some of the options that could be used should you decide that you would feel a lot better if you had a ground cover under your kids swing set.
One thing that you need to take into consideration no matter what ground cover you decide on, is the depth of the material that you use. So how deep should you go? Well, according to the The US Product Safety Commission, an independent government agency formed to protect us from ourselves (said with a bit of tongue in cheek), the ideal depth seems to be a good 9 inches to provide a proper cushion should someone fall.
So let’s talk about materials that are used for this purpose. The least expensive option quite naturally is sand. But sand also has it’s drawbacks. For one, it’s subject to having a little bit washed away each time it rains. And let’s be realistic, if you have sand under your kids swing set you’re going to have sand in your house.
Another type of ground cover that is used is what is known as pea gravel. In other words round little stones. Not as susceptible to being washed away like sand but I’m imagining you’re still going to find a lot of it in your yard instead of in the play area.
Next in line would be the various types of wood mulches such as cedar, cypress and pine. And yes, they provide adequate cushioning if you provide the right depth but over time mulch decomposes. Some mulches also attract unwanted insects. And since you’re dealing with wood, you might also have to deal with splinters. Wood mulch certainly isn’t a bad choice but it too comes with its drawbacks just like the materials we’ve already mentioned.
One the newest materials on the market in recent years has been rubber mulch that is made from recycled rubber tires. In fact this ground cover material is becoming quite popular despite its initial costs being a bit higher. But this type of swing set ground cover doesn’t decompose, it doesn’t wash away, it doesn’t blow away because it’s much heavier and it doesn’t attract insects. Oh, and since it does provide more of a cushion, you really only need about a third of the depth.
Another reason why rubber mulch is gaining in popularity as a ground cover for kids swing sets is that it comes in some pretty awesome colors and has been shown to keep its color for a period of up to 10 years before fading.
As you can see, you have lots of options depending on your budget and just how much peace of mind you would like. If you have have used something different for your kids swing set, share the idea by leaving a comment!