So, what goes under a swing set? The most common residential surface solutions under play systems are mulch, wood chips, pea gravel, sand, and artificial grass. They all offer relatively good protection to your child in case of a fall.
Rubber mulch is made from the rubber of recycled tires. It allows water to flow through to the ground where it can be absorbed. It’s a softer option to gravel and is available in almost any color. It does not breed or attract insects and requires minimum maintenance. It will not rot, mold or freeze. Some complaints are that the rubber can exude an unpleasant smell in the summer months and there may be a possibility of tiny bits of steel left over from tires that can seep into the soil. Rubber mulch can seem expensive to some.
Wood mulch or wood chips are organic and will leave your soil in good shape after you say goodbye to your swing set. However, there are some disadvantages. The wood collects water and can cause mold. It attracts bugs and can produce splinters. It will need replacing every few years. While it is not as expensive as rubber mulch initially, the costs will even out over time with replenishing.
Pea gravel (or pea stone)
Pea gravel or pea stone is very easy on the pocket. It provides good drainage, doesn’t attract insects and looks good overall. However, the little stones are small enough to get stuck in shoes (especially sandals) and in clothing.
Sand is readily available and reasonably priced. It is great shock absorbency. There is some border landscaping required in order to keep the sand contained in your play area. Sand does attract insects and it is sometimes a mystery what lies beneath (smile).
Artificial (synthetic) grass or turf (it has many other names such as xgrass) provides the look of beautiful grass all year round without the maintenance. It doesn’t move around and can be manufactured to meet any height requirements for swing sets. It has soft padding under the grass that is practically immovable when installed professionally. It’s nonabrasive, free of grass stains, water absorbent, and consistent in all seasons. You will pay a hefty price when compared with the competition, but depending on your preferences, it may be worth every penny. Good for long-term yard solutions after the swing set is removed.
Here are some places in Baton Rouge that may have some of these options for you to compare.
Ronaldson Field, Natural Resource Recovery, 1500 Rafe Mayer Road, 774-5000
Nature’s Best Organics, 5800 One Perkins Place 6-A 766-1443