What is Playground Mulch & Why Use It?

Playground mulch is a form of playground cover material that is used for a number of different purposes throughout the year. It not only is aesthetically pleasing to kids, but it is also highly functional from an injury prevention standpoint.

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When most of us think of mulch, we think of lawns, gardens, and landscapes with red, brown, or black mulch beds. However, mulch is not only meant for trees, vegetables, shrubs, and flowers. While mulch is mostly an aesthetic addition to your lawn or garden, it actually has other uses. The most common other use of mulch is for playgrounds. This type of mulch is specifically designed to add a layer of protection on playgrounds to enhance safety.

So, what is playground mulch? Generally, playground mulch refers to a type of loose-fill padding that is spread around playground equipment to create a soft surface on which children can play. This type of mulch is usually made from recycled rubber, wood chips, or shredded tires. Playground mulch provides a safe cushion for kids in the event of a fall and helps absorb impact. Playground mulch comes in various colors, although the most popular is black.

This article discusses everything you need to know about playground mulch. Read on to learn more.

Regular Mulch: A Quick Overview

Before we dive deep into discussing the specifics of playground mulch, let us first provide a quick overview of regular mulch.

Regular mulch is a type of material that is spread around or over the soil to enhance the growth of plants, reduce weed growth, and conserve moisture in the soil.

The mulch is generally made of wood or bark, which breaks down and decays over time, providing plants with a wide range of nutrients such as nitrogen. The benefits of regular mulch to plants are lifelong.

A closeup image of a red mulch.
There are many color and texture options to choose from when selecting the right type of mulch for your garden.

Regular mulch plays a critical role in retaining moisture by blocking out intense sunlight and slowing down the effects of evaporation. It also helps protect the soil from fluctuating temperatures, maintaining a stable temperature ideal for plant growth.

Besides blocking sunlight from reaching the soil, regular mulch also prevents weeds from breaking through the soil layer. It deprives weeds of the sunlight they need to germinate and grow. Those that don’t root easily find it difficult to survive the suffocation leading to their death.

Finally, regular mulch adds an aesthetic component to your landscapes and yards. There are many color and texture options to choose from when selecting the right type of mulch for your garden.

Types of Regular Mulch

There are three primary types of regular mulch: wood chips, shredded bark, and straw. Wood chips are the most common type of mulch as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Wood chips also break down relatively slowly, providing long-lasting benefits to your plants.

Shredded bark is another popular type of mulch. It is made from the bark of various trees such as pine, cedar, and hemlock. Shredded bark has a more fibrous texture, making it ideal for gardens with delicate plants.

Wood chips on hand.
Wood chips are the most common type of mulch as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Finally, straw refers to mulch made from the dried stalks of various grains such as wheat, oats, and barley. Straw mulch is ideal for use in gardens with vegetables and fruits as it helps prevent disease spread.

Playground Mulch: A Quick Overview

Playground mulch is a special type of mulch specifically designed to be used on playgrounds and backyards where children are likely to play.

This type of mulch is usually made from recycled rubber, wood chips, or shredded tires. Playground mulch provides a safe cushion for kids in the event of a fall and helps absorb impact.

It is fairly affordable, resilient, and readily available. It can be found in a wide range of colors, providing you with an option to choose a color that best complements your overall playground theme.

A playground rubber mulch being painted.
Playground mulch provides a safe cushion for kids in the event of a fall and helps absorb impact.

While making playground mulch, the rubber is usually cleaned thoroughly and shredded in strict accordance with set safety standards to prevent playground injuries.

Small kids must be watched keenly when playing on a playground with rubber mulch because if they put it in their mouth, they might choke.

Playground mulch is usually sold in bags and can be used to cover playground areas of any size and shape.

As long as enough playground mulch is used to create a sturdy but relatively soft surface for kids to land on, the mulch will do a great job at providing your little ones with a safe playing environment.

Children falling on playground mulch are less likely to be injured than those falling on concrete, dirt, or grass.

How Is Playground Mulch Different from Regular Mulch?

The main difference between playground mulch and regular mulch is the type of material used to make them.

As mentioned earlier, playground mulch is usually made from recycled rubber or shredded tires, while regular mulch is typically made from organic materials such as wood chips or bark.

Another key difference between playground mulch and regular mulch is that playground mulch is usually dyed in bright colors to make it more visually appealing to kids.

On the other hand, regular mulch is typically left its natural color or stained with a single uniform color.

Closeup image of rubber mulch.
Playground mulch is usually dyed in bright colors to make it more visually appealing to kids.

Finally, playground mulch is designed to be softer than regular mulch to provide a safe cushion for kids in the event of a fall.

Engineered Wood Fiber Playground Mulch: How Is It Different?

Engineered wood fiber playground mulch is one of the most preferred types of playground mulch, and it is for a reason.

This type of playground mulch is usually manufactured by chipping and shredding soft or hardwood into small chips that meet certain size specifications. The wood chips are then further processed to create a uniform product. Further processing is usually done using a hammermill.

The resulting wood chips are safe for kids to play on and provide a soft surface that can cushion falls. Engineered wood fiber playground mulch is also highly resilient and can last many years with proper care and maintenance.

This playground mulch is also very affordable, making it a great option for budget-minded consumers.

What Are The Pros of Using Playground Mulch?

There are many benefits of using playground mulch in your backyard or playground. Some of the most notable benefits include:

1. Provides a Safe Cushion

One of the main advantages of playground mulch is that it provides a safe cushion for kids in the event of a fall. This type of mulch is designed to be softer than regular mulch so that it can help to reduce the impact of a fall and prevent serious injuries.

2. Resilient and Long-Lasting

Playground mulch is also quite resilient and long-lasting. This type of mulch can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. This makes it a great investment for any consumer looking for a long-term solution.

3. Affordable

Another great benefit of playground mulch is that it is quite affordable. Playground mulch is typically much cheaper than other types of playground surfacing options, such as rubber tiles or poured-in-place rubber.

4. Easy to Install

Playground mulch is also very easy to install. In most cases, all you need to do is spread the mulch around the playground area, and you’re good to go.

5. Low Maintenance

Finally, playground mulch is also very low maintenance. This type of mulch does not require any special care or maintenance and can be left alone once it is installed.

What Are the Cons of Using Playground Mulch?

Despite all of the benefits of playground mulch, there are a few potential drawbacks to using this type of surfacing in your backyard or playground. Some of the most notable disadvantages include:

1. Can Be Messy

One potential drawback of playground mulch is that it can be quite messy. This type of mulch can track into your home or become scattered around the playground area.

2. Attract Pests

Another potential issue with playground mulch is that it can attract pests such as ants, termites, and rodents. These pests can damage the mulch and create a nuisance in your backyard or playground.

3. Flammable

Another potential issue with playground mulch is that it can be quite flammable. That is why it is critical to keep it away from open flames or heat sources to prevent accidents.

How to Choose the Right Playground Mulch?

If you’re considering using playground mulch in your backyard or playground, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure you choose the right product for your needs. Some of the most important factors to consider include:

a) Size of Your Playground

One of the first things you need to consider is the size of your playground. You will need to purchase enough mulch to cover the entire playground area. Be sure to measure the playground before buying to get enough mulch.

b) Type of Mulch

There are many different types of playground mulch available on the market. Some of the most popular options include wood chips, rubber pellets, and shredded tires. Be sure to research the different types of mulch to find the best option for your needs.

A blue paint on a rubber mulch.
Some of the most popular playground mulch options include wood chips, rubber pellets, and shredded tires.

c) Price

Of course, you will also need to consider the price of the playground mulch. Be sure to compare prices from different suppliers to find the best deal.

d) Quality

Finally, you will also want to make sure you choose a high-quality playground mulch. Be sure to read reviews from other consumers to find the best products on the market.

Summary

That’s a quick overview of regular mulch and playground mulch. Both have their pros and cons, but what might make you lean towards using playground mulch is the fact that it’s engineered to be safer for children.

If you decide that playground mulch is the right choice for your playground, take time to choose the right type that suits your needs and budget.

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