What Is The Best Material To Put Under Monkey Bars?

It is usually a lot of fun for children to play in or around monkey bars. But, for parents and caregivers, it can be a bit of trial and error finding the best material to put under the monkey bars. There are many alternatives; some of them are better than others for several reasons.

Adding a monkey bar to your backyard or playground is one of the most effective ways of making the play area more family-friendly and interesting to kids. However, safety must always be your top priority when choosing and installing any playset. You want to make sure your little ones are safe, and nothing risks their lives. When it comes to installing monkey bars, the surface material you use below it matters. Some materials offer superior protection in case of falls than others.

So, what is the best material to put under monkey bars? You must consider a wide range of factors such as your budget, the size/height of your monkey bars, and the material’s visual aesthetic. You must also consider safety and the cost of maintenance.  Some of the best materials to put under a monkey bar include loose rubber mulch, loose-fill rubber, engineered wood fiber, pea gravel, and play sand.

If you have been wondering about the best material to put under your monkey bar, then you have come to the right place. This post discusses some of the best options, including the pros and cons of each. So, let us dive in and get started.

Choosing the Best Material to Put Under Monkey Bars

Ideally, the groundcover for your monkey bar should be safe, attractive, affordable, and low maintenance. These are the four basic features that most people look for in ground cover materials for their monkey bars.

However, you need to keep in mind that you may need to sacrifice one quality for another when in the market.

For instance, you may be forced to spend a little more for a safer option or accept the need for regular maintenance to ensure greater visual appeal.

To help you make an informed decision, we have gathered some of the best ground cover materials for monkey bars, highlighting each option’s advantages and disadvantages.

1. Rubber mulch

Rubber mulch is a fairly new type of material, but it is becoming popular due to its unique ability to provide a relatively nice cushion when kids fall onto it. It is made of a springy material that also serves as a weed barrier.

The rubber in the mulch is usually recycled rubber, making it one of the best eco-friendly materials, but some mulch may contain contaminants.  To avoid purchasing rubber mulch full of contaminants, it is highly recommended you buy from a well-known and trusted rubber mulch company.

Rubber is one of the safest materials to use as playground surfacing that requires minimal maintenance.

Rubber mulch requires regular sweeping and raking to keep it in good condition, but it is worth it because it offers a much softer landing compared to other materials. You can be sure that your little ones won’t suffer injuries when they fall on it.

It is a great option for parents looking for a mostly low-maintenance material that provides a much softer place to fall while playing.


  • It is relatively easy to install
  • It is softer, eliminating the risk of injuries in case of a fall.
  • It is a relatively low-maintenance option.
  • It is also eco-friendly.


  • Require regular sweeping and raking to keep it in good shape
  • Rubber mulch is more expensive than some of the other options.
  • There may be health concerns over long-term exposure to the small bits of rubber.
  • Some recycled tire mulch may contain harmful contaminants.
  • Rubber mulch may also smell a bit when the temperature is too high.

2. Pea gravel

Although pea gravel doesn’t offer the best impact absorption, it offers the best support.  Putting nine inches of pea gravel under your monkey bar can protect for falls up to five feet.   However, it can redistribute and compress if used heavily. Therefore, it requires regular shoving and raking to help it stay in good condition.

Pea gravel playground surfacing consists of small pebbles that give the surface a natural look.

Pea gravel stays relatively clean for a longer period and doesn’t support the growth of microbial organisms that may pose a health risk to your loved ones. It is also less attractive to animals.

However, you should avoid using it under your monkey bar if you have a toddler because it can be a risky choking hazard.


  • It offers a great natural look because it mainly consists of small stones of different colors.
  • The initial cost of installation is relatively low.
  • It provides excellent support.
  • Stays clean for a longer period
  • It is less attractive to animals compared to other options such as play sand.


  • Although the initial cost is low, the maintenance cost is high because it breaks down easily and may need to be replaced regularly to ensure optimal safety.
  • With time, the pieces of gravel breakdown into smaller particles forming a “hardpan,” which can cause severe injuries when fallen on.
  • Regular raking and shoveling are needed to redistribute the gravel for optimal injury prevention.
  • Not recommended for toddlers because it can be a choking hazard.

3. Play sand

Sand is less effective when it comes to impact-absorption, but its softness is a great asset. Nine inches of sand can withstand falls of up to five feet. It doesn’t break down like pea gravel, and as long as you rake and sift it regularly, it can serve you for a long time.

Along with providing safe surface under the monkey bars, play sand allows the kids to have some fun by building sandcastles.

Sand is a relatively low-cost option that is readily available and easy to install under your monkey bar. However, the lifetime costs can add up pretty quickly because regular maintenance is necessary. 

It offers a natural aesthetic and matches most landscapes as long as you keep it clean. Raking your sand regularly is so important because it attracts insects, animal waste and can also hide harmful objects or materials.


  • The initial installation cost is relatively low, and sand is readily available.
  • It doesn’t deteriorate easily with usage.
  • Its natural aesthetic can match with any landscape.
  • Children can use the sand to create other play activities such as building sandcastles.


  • Sand can easily get inside socks/shoes and transferred into the house.
  • It can also scrape knees and house more harmful substances that you wouldn’t want around your kids or pets.
  • You need to check the depth regularly and replenish all areas that have become shallow.
  • Sand may conceal animal waste and other hazardous objects.
  • Attractive to animals
  • May combine with dirt and become compact.
  • Sand is not ideal for wheelchair access.

4. Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)

Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) is probably the best loose-fill material to put under your monkey bar. High-quality EWF is usually natural, smooth, and compact. It is relatively affordable and offers excellent impact absorption.

EWF is also easy to install and stays in place better than other materials such as sand, making it one of the most popular options.

However, it requires regular maintenance, especially in the high-use areas. So, if you have many kids playing on the monkey bar, you may need to replace your EWF surface regularly.

Engineered wood fiber requires low maintenance and offers great protection when used as a playground surfacing material.

It is also critical to ensure you maintain the right depth. Typically, you should never have less than nine inches of EWF. Before you consider installing EWF, ensure your monkey bar is installed in a good location that offers good drainage to maximize EWF’s lifespan.


  • It is highly attractive
  • Slip-resistant and offers a good cushion for falls.
  • It is biodegradable since it is made from conventional wood.
  • It is long-lasting
  • Doesn’t require regular maintenance


  • The initial installation cost is quite high, which makes it a less appealing option to many people.
  • Engineered fibers made from used wood may contain harmful contaminants.

5. Synthetic turf

Putting artificial grass under your monkey bar provides your play area with the beautiful look of natural grass without the need for constant maintenance!

Although it is one of the least impact-absorbing materials, it is still a good option if you want to maintain that natural look in your play area. It offers a level surface that is slightly more cushioned than natural grass.

In contrast with natural grass, synthetic turf offers more cushioning and provides better protection for the kids.


  • Less maintenance is required to keep it in good shape.
  • It is visually appealing and complements your landscape quite well since it looks like regular grass.
  • Has an impact layer and wear layer
  • Boost medium wear resistance.


  • Artificial grass gets hotter in the sun.
  • Not recommended as the surface material for tall monkey bars because it is not so good at absorbing impact.
  • The initial installation cost is a bit high.
  • Requires regular washing to get rid of dirt, and repairs may be needed if the material is damaged.

What Is the Best Material to Put under Your Monkey Bar?

The best material to put under your monkey bar will mostly depend on the monkey bar’s height and the place where you have installed it.

However, we believe that Engineered Wood Fiber and pea gravel are the best materials because they meet the required safety standards and are low maintenance materials.

We strongly believe that safety should be your top concern when deciding on the best material to put under your monkey bar. Your kids should be able to play freely with the least risk of getting hurt. Cost, visual aesthetics, and maintenance should come as secondary considerations.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

read this next

Backyard sandboxes are a favorite play space for kids, but as such, they can get dirty. Keeping your backyard sandbox clean ensures your kids’ safety. Here are 4 budget-friendly sandbox cover ideas to efficiently protect the play area from insects, animals, pine needles, leaves, or natural debris.
Installing a playground in your backyard can be an exciting process that will bring you years of enjoyment and memories with your family. However, before you embark on a playground installation you’ll want to figure out just how much it will cost you. We are here to help!
While some playgrounds need to be fenced, others should be left open not to limit what kids can do while playing. We share everything you need to know about fencing playgrounds and creating buffer zones.
Do you want your children to grow up safely? Well, a common playground in many countries can be quite dangerous. Being aware of the most common injuries and how to avoid them is the key to keep your kids in good health. From broken bones to concussion, this article outlines some of the most common injuries sustained from playground accidents and ways to prevent them from happening.
Your kids want to have a jungle gym at your house? You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars building an expensive one? We’ll show you how you can build one fast and easily with minimum cost.
To make the playground safe for the kids, it is important to select the right surfacing material. While engineered wood fiber, pea gravel, and sand are affordable options, poured-in-place rubber and artificial grass cost more but provide superb protection for the kids.
Indoor playgrounds are great for children of all ages, and especially those who crave the cool, calm climate of a controlled environment. These 10 reasons to build an indoor playground will get you started on creating the perfect space conducive to active children.
A Natural Playground is designed to be as natural and free from human influence as possible. It is created in a way that provides opportunities for play and exploration that are found in nature, rather than being restricted to the more traditional playground equipment seen in many public parks.
Yes, it is possible to build you own indoor jungle gym. In fact, its more than possible. You can create your own maximum fun jungle gym that will incorporate all of the basic gymnastic elements, including climbing apparatus, swinging apparatus, balancing apparatus and jumping apparatus
If you have kids, you know, sometimes the cheapest, most straightforward option is the most entertaining. Just because a piece is expensive does not mean it will be the best item to play with. Fill your indoor play space with big pieces like slides and climbing equipment but always have toys like wooden blocks to cater to different play styles
Before you can begin installing your backyard playset, or any play equipment for that matter, it is vital that you prepare the ground where you plan on placing it. Whether you are planning on installing a swing set, a climbing frame, or a playhouse, if the soil has not been properly prepared beforehand, it could cause future problems with the durability of your equipment.
There are a lot of ways that kids can hurt themselves while playing at a playground and despite your best efforts, you can’t always protect them from injuries. As long as you plan ahead and keep close supervision on your kid, you can avoid major injuries and keep the fun going safely.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Playground Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest promos, tips, advices, and much more!

Your privacy is important to us.