Playground mulch remains one of the safest playground surfacing options, providing some of the highest ratings. It is also a long-lasting and incredibly low-maintenance material. However, to get the most out of your playground rubber mulch, you need to ensure it is properly installed. Installing rubber mulch is relatively easy, but you need to ensure you have the right tools and knowledge before you start the process.
So, how do you install playground mulch? You first need to clear the area where you will be installing the rubber mulch. Remove any grass, weeds, or debris that might be in the way. Once the area is clear, you will need to level it off as much as possible. Ensure the site has adequate drainage and add borders that will contain the rubber mulch. Lay down a geo-fabric material to create a barrier between the mulch and soil before you start spreading it.
This blog post discusses everything you need to know about installing playground mulch. Read on to learn more.
What Is Playground Rubber Mulch?
Before diving deep into installing playground mulch, let’s first take a step back and answer the question: what is playground rubber mulch?
Playground rubber mulch is a shock-absorbent material made from recycled tires. It is designed to cushion falls and minimize the risk of injuries on playgrounds.
Playground rubber mulch comes in different colors, making it an attractive option for many playgrounds.
The most common colors are black, green, and brown. It is also available in various particle sizes, ranging from fine to medium to course.
Rubber Mulch vs. Nuggets
Many people tend to confuse playground rubber mulch with playground rubber nuggets. While both products are made from recycled tires, they are quite different.
When choosing between rubber mulch and nuggets, pay close attention to the size of the rubber particles. Typically, nuggets are larger than mulch particles. Nuggets also tend to be more expensive than rubber mulch.
In fact, nuggets resemble your typical wood mulch strips and are relatively heavier. It means that nuggets won’t wash away easily in a rain storm. The added bulk and surface area of the nuggets usually add more air and cushion.
For this article, we shall discuss how to install playground rubber mulch and not nuggets.
How to Install Playground Rubber Mulch
Choosing to install playground mulch is excellent for safety. However, knowing all the steps required to install playground rubber mulch is crucial to ensure your investment provides you and your little ones with safe and fun memories.
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the steps you need to follow when installing playground mulch:
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools
You will need a few tools to make your work easier. Typically, a landscaping rake with a relatively broad rake will be ideal for grading and sloping the area. You can also use this rake to distribute the shredded rubber mulch when you get to that point.
You should also grab outdoor scissors for cutting the geo-fabric that plays a critical role in blocking weeds from growing into the mulch.
Step 2: Preparing the Area
The next thing you need to do is prepare the playground surface for installation. Ensure good grading and drainage to prevent water from pooling around your playground.
Grading involves clearing the ground of any debris, leveling off bumps, and filling in any depressions. You want to ensure the surface is as level as possible to provide a stable foundation for your playground.
Once you have prepared the ground, lay down a weed barrier fabric to keep weeds from growing through your mulch. The fabric will also help to control dust and erosion. We have more on this step.
Step 3: Create Borders
Once you have fully prepared your area and ensured the drainage is super good, the next thing you need to do is create borders around the area that will contain the mulch.
There are a few ways you can go about this, but one of the most popular methods is to use landscape timbers. Landscape timbers are excellent because they’re durable, easy to work with, and look great when installed.
Another benefit of using landscape timbers is that they help to contain the mulch within the playground area.
This is important because you don’t want the mulch blowing away in strong winds or being washed away in heavy rains.
Step 4: Add the Geofabric
Once your borders are in place, it is time to get the geofabric in place to create a barrier between your playground rubber mulch and the soil. This separation is critical in preventing mud from absorbing the playground rubber mulch from below, which can severely diminish its shock absorbency.
The preventive layer also prevents weed growth and blockages in the drainage system. The geofabric material that works best with rubber mulch is a thick non-woven landscaping fabric.
The non-woven option usually allows water to percolate through it easily. It mainly serves as some form of filter, keeping the soil out while allowing water through.
Be sure to use landscaping staples to secure the geofabric to the ground. You should also ensure that the seams overlap and the staples are used along the seams and some few in the middle at relatively regular intervals.
Secure the staples tightly at the borders to ensure the geofabric is in place and won’t move around.
Step 5: Add the Rubber Mulch
After you have the geofabric in place, it is now time to add the rubber mulch. You can use a wheelbarrow to transport the mulch from where it’s stored to the playground.
When adding the mulch, try as much as possible to maintain an even layer throughout the playground. You should also avoid creating any mounds or valleys in the process. The ideal thickness for the rubber mulch is about four to six inches deep.
Once you have added the desired amount of rubber mulch, go over the area with a landscape rake to distribute the mulch evenly and remove any clumps.
Step 6: Add Playground Equipment
When adding the playground equipment, ensure that it is installed on level ground and that all the bolts are tightened. You should also check to see that there is no loose hardware that could pose a hazard to children.
Step 7: Add Playground Borders (Optional)
Adding playground borders is not necessary, but it can be a nice finishing touch. Borders help to contain the mulch and give the playground a finished look.
If you decide to add borders, there are a few different options to choose from. One popular option is to use rubber mats that interlock with each other. Another option is to use pressure-treated lumber.
Either way, you should ensure that the borders are securely installed, so they don’t pose a hazard to children.
How Much Mulch Do I Need?
One of the most common questions people have when it comes to rubber mulch is, “How much do I need?” The answer to this question will vary depending on the size of the playground and the depth of the mulch you want to achieve.
As a general rule of thumb, you should use about one pound of rubber mulch per square foot of playground. So, if your playground is 100 square feet, you would need to use about 100 pounds of rubber mulch.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the depth of the mulch will also affect how much you need to use. As a general rule, you should plan on using about four to six inches of rubber mulch.
This depth will provide adequate protection for the ground beneath and allow for proper drainage.
How Often Should I Replace the Rubber Mulch?
Rubber mulch typically lasts for about 12 years before it needs to be replaced. However, this lifespan can vary depending on the amount of use the playground gets and the climate conditions in your area.
In general, you should plan on replacing the mulch every three to five years if the playground is heavily used. If the playground is not used very often, you can probably get away with replacing it every seven to ten years.
Be sure to inspect the rubber mulch regularly and replace it as needed to ensure a safe playground for children. Regular inspection should also focus on removing unwanted debris, such as rocks and sticks.
Installing playground rubber mulch is a great way to keep your play area safe and looking great. It’s easy to do, and only takes a few steps.
Make sure you have all the necessary tools before you get started, then follow our simple guide to install playground rubber mulch like a pro!
With a little bit of effort, you can have a beautiful, safe playground for your children to enjoy for many years.
Last update on 2023-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API