After excavating the ground for a playground or swing set, install two layers of geotextile fabric. This double layer of landscape fabric will prevent weeds from growing up through the mulch. It will also stop the playground from becoming a muddy mess. After you’ve laid the landscape fabric, pour 8–12 inches (20–30 cm) of mulch on top and spread it evenly. You can use wood mulch or rubber mulch for your playground.
Table of Contents
How Do You Prepare the Ground for a Playground?
Start by marking out the playground area. Use stakes, flags, or marking paint to clearly mark the perimeter. Then, excavate the ground down to a depth of 8–12 inches (20–30 cm). This will allow you to create a soft, safe play surface that will protect children if they tumble or fall.
- Use marking paint to mark the area for the planned playground.
- Excavate the marked area to a depth of 8–12 inches (20–30 cm).
- Lay two layers of this landscape fabric on top of the soil in the excavated area.
Once you’ve excavated the playground area, spread two layers of commercial-grade, water-permeable landscape fabric over the bare ground. Landscape fabric under playground mulch has several benefits, including adding durability and suppressing weeds. A double layer of fabric resists being punctured or torn by foot traffic on the mulch above.
- Superior strength and durability.
- Perfect for erosion control.
- Built to last several years.
What Should You Put Down Before Adding Playground Mulch?
Geotextile fabric—often called landscape fabric—is an essential ground covering for playgrounds. Installing it is one of the best ways to keep weeds out of your playground. It also keeps your playground mud-free and extends the lifespan of the mulch you lay on top of it.
- Install a double layer of geotextile landscape fabric before adding playground mulch.
- Lay the first layer of fabric in a north-south pattern.
- Lay the second layer of fabric in an east-west pattern.
- Overlap landscape fabric by 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) wherever two pieces are laid side-by-side
You don’t need to do any ground or soil treatments before laying landscape fabric. You can lay the landscape fabric directly on top of the soil after excavation. Begin by installing the first layer of landscape fabric in a north-south pattern to cover the soil. Then, add a second layer running in an east-west pattern. To make sure there are no gaps, allow the fabric to overlap 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) whenever you are laying rolls of fabric side-by-side.
Mistakes to Avoid Before Adding Playground Mulch
Do not skip the excavation step during playground construction. You may be used to pouring wood chips directly into your garden bed, but this tactic won’t work for playgrounds. You need a deep bed of mulch to provide a safe, cushioned play area for children. Mulch spread directly on top of the ground will form a thin surface that spreads out and becomes ineffective over time.
- Do not pour playground mulch without first excavating the playground area.
- Always lay landscape fabric before mulching—it keeps your playground weed-free and increases the lifespan of your mulch.
- Never use plastic sheeting instead of water-permeable landscape fabric. Plastic will retain water.
Avoid using plastic sheeting as a substitute for geotextile fabric under playground mulch. Sheets of plastic will collect water. This can cause harmful bacteria and insects to breed in pools of standing water. Landscape fabric is far better because it’s water-permeable. Water will pass through the fabric and enter the soil instead of pooling under the mulch.
Should You Put Mulch Under a Swing Set?
Mulch is an excellent ground-covering under a swing set or in a playground. It’s far softer and safer than natural grass or artificial grass. It’s also a much more affordable option than installing rubber tiles. You’ll get good results from wood fiber or rubber mulch.
- Mulch creates a safe, soft play space for children.
- In comparison to artificial grass or rubber tiles, mulch is a less expensive option for playground safety.
- Don’t use sand instead of mulch—it attracts animals that will use the space as a toilet.
Never use sand instead of mulch. Sandy playground areas attract animals, which will often use the sand as an area to urinate and defecate. Mulch is far less likely to attract this activity. Keep your children safe from animal waste and the bacteria it harbors by using a good quality mulch.
Can You Use Wood Chips as Playground Mulch?
Wood chips and bark mulch make excellent ground covering beneath and around playground equipment. Wood chips are light and do not compact into a hard surface. This makes it far less dangerous for children to play in a playground covered with wood mulch as opposed to natural grass.
- Lightweight wood chip and bark mulch is a great choice for playgrounds.
- Avoid using hard mulches that compact easily.
- Recycled rubber mulch is another excellent playground surface material.
In addition to wood mulch, recycled rubber mulch is an excellent option. Playground rubber mulch is durable and a natural product, so it makes for an excellent play surface. Wood and rubber are our top choices for playground mulch.
How Do You Lay Mulch for a Playground?
In order to lay mulch for your backyard playground, prepare the site by excavating the area and installing two layers of landscape fabric. Then, calculate the number of square feet that the playground covers. You’ll need enough mulch to cover the entire square footage at a depth of 8–12 inches (20–30 cm). Then, follow the steps below for ordering and spreading mulch:
- Find the square footage of the excavated and prepared playground area.
- Order mulch from a garden supplier by the cubic yard.
- 1 cubic yard will cover a 324 square-foot area at a depth of 1 inch.
- If your playground is 300 square feet and has been excavated to a depth of 8 inches, you’ll need about 8 cubic yards of mulch.
- Have the mulch delivered in your driveway or yard, as close to the playground as possible.
- Spread the mulch evenly with a rake and shovel.
It’s important to have the mulch delivered close to the playground. This will reduce the amount of work you have to do to move the mulch. Once the mulch is delivered, use a wheelbarrow and shovel to move loads of mulch to the playground. From there, a rake can be used to spread it evenly throughout the space.
What Do You Put Down Under Play Bark in a Playground?
The best thing to put down under a layer of bark mulch in a playground is a double layer of water-permeable geotextile fabric. This material will work as a weed barrier. It will also prevent the muddy ground from mixing with your mulch. This means your mulch will stay in place and retain its shock absorbency for years to come. Whatever type of mulch you use, adding landscape fabric beneath it will contribute to a higher-quality, longer-lasting play space.