Why Are Playgrounds Filled With Wood Chips?

Playgrounds are often made with a surface of wood chips as they are softer than most other surfaces. The wood chips provides a comfortable, safe surface for your child to fall and play on. In addition, the wood chips will soften any impact from falls or bumps into sharp edges.

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School, community, and even private playgrounds play a critical role in every child’s life. A playground helps children develop socially, mentally, and physically. It is also a great source of entertainment. However, kids often tumble off play equipment and hurt themselves due to the force of impact with the ground. That is why playgrounds require a layer of shock-absorbing material. One of the most preferred playground surfacing materials is wood chips.

So, why do playgrounds have wood chips? The primary reason playgrounds have wood chips is to prevent injuries from falls. Wood chips act as a cushion and help to absorb the impact of a fall. This type of surfacing is also very effective in preventing slips and trips. Remember that a simple fall can result in a serious injury, so it is important to choose a good playground surfacing material to help keep kids safe.

This article discusses everything you need to know about wood chips. Read on to learn more.

What Are Wood Chips?

Before we dive deep into discussing why playgrounds have wood chips, it is important to understand what they are.

Wood chips are small pieces of wood generally used as gardening mulch or a playground surface material. They come in various sizes, but are typically around 2-5 cm in diameter. You can find wood chips at most hardware stores or garden centers.

Woodchips on hand.
Making wood chips involves cutting down trees and then chipping them into small pieces.

There are two main types of wood chips: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood chips are made from trees like oak and maple, while softwood chips come from coniferous trees like pine and fir. Hardwood chips are generally more durable and last longer than softwood chips.

Making wood chips involves cutting down trees and then chipping them into small pieces. The wood chips are then left to dry before they are used.

The Wisdom in Using Playground Wood Chips

Unlike rubber mulch and other playground surfacing options, wood chips are free of chemicals and other harmful substances.

And since the wood used in making wood chips comes from mature trees that have grown naturally, the chips have little chance of causing an allergic reaction.

A swing set with woodchip surface.
This playground surfacing material complies with special needs guidelines and advanced safety standards.

Some forms of wood chips, such as the engineered wood fiber, even pack down into a relatively firm slip-resistant surface.

When the wood chips are properly installed on the playground, strollers and wheelchairs shouldn’t have any trouble moving on the playground surface. This playground surfacing material complies with special needs guidelines and advanced safety standards.

Why Use Playground Wood Chips?

Although rubber and peal gravel surfaces may sound like ideal options for playground surfaces, they have drawbacks and don’t deliver the overall efficiency and flexibility of wood chips.

Here are some of the outstanding benefits of using playground wood chips compared to the other playground surfacing options:

1. Environmentally Friendly

One of the reasons that playgrounds have wood chips is because they are an environmentally friendly option.

Wood chips are a sustainable resource, and they do not contain any harmful chemicals. This type of surfacing is also very effective in preventing slips and trips.

2. Easy to Install and Maintain

Another reason playgrounds have wood chips is because they are easy to install and maintain. You don’t need special skills or equipment to install wood chips on the playground.

They are also easy to maintain. All you need to do is rake the wood chips regularly to keep the surface level.

3. Cost Effective

Another great benefit of playground wood chips is that they are very cost-effective. In fact, they are much cheaper than rubber or pea gravel.

A boy playing with woodchips.
They are easy to install and maintain and last for many years with proper care.

Furthermore, you don’t need to replace wood chips as often as you would with other types of playground surfaces. They are easy to install and maintain and last for many years with proper care.

4. Aesthetic Appeal

When you use wood chips as your playground surfacing material instead of asphalt, rubber, or gavel, your playground will look much like a real playground, not a factory yard.

This is because wood chips provide a unique, organic visual landscape for you and your little ones. It also enriches the playground environment and makes it more inviting for children.

5. Highly Durable

Playground wood chips are also highly durable. They can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. In addition, playground wood chips are resistant to mold, mildew, and bacteria.

This type of surfacing is also very slip-resistant, which is important for preventing injuries on the playground.

6. Flexible

Playground wood chips are also very flexible. You can use them in any type of playground, whether for a small backyard or a large commercial playground. In addition, you can also use them indoors or outdoors.

This type of surfacing is also easy to install and remove, which is ideal if you want to change the look of your playground or move it to a different location.

7. Safe

Playground wood chips are also safe. This type of surfacing is impact-absorbing, which means that it can help reduce the risk of injuries on the playground. Additionally, playground wood chips are slip-resistant, which helps prevent slips and trips.

Playground wood chips comply with all special needs’ guidelines and advanced safety standards.

What Are the Cons of Using Playground Wood Chips?

Not everything about playground wood chips is perfect. There are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before you decide to use this surfacing on your playground. They include:

1. Wood Chips Can Be Messy

One of the biggest disadvantages of playground wood chips is that they can be messy. This type of surfacing can track into your home or business and make a mess. Furthermore, if there is a lot of wind, the wood chips can blow around and create a mess.

This is why it’s important to plan how you will clean up the wood chips regularly. Otherwise, they can quickly become a nuisance.

2. They Can Attract Pests

Another downside of playground wood chips is that they can attract pests. This is because the wood chips provide a perfect hiding place for insects and rodents.

If you have a problem with pests on your playground, it’s important to take measures to prevent them from getting into the wood chips. Otherwise, they could quickly become infested.

One way you can prevent the menace of pests is by using cedar wood chips instead of pine wood chips. Cedar is naturally pest-resistant, so it’s a great option for playgrounds.

3. Not Everyone Likes the Look of Wood Chips

While some people love the look of playground wood chips, others find them unappealing. If you’re not a fan of the way they look, you may want to consider another type of playground surfacing.

Toys on a sandbox.
You may want to consider another type of playground surfacing.

Additionally, if you have a special needs child, you may want to choose a different type of surfacing that is more comfortable for them.

4. They Can Be Difficult to Remove

It may reach a point where you want to remove the wood chips from your playground. However, this can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Additionally, it’s important to dispose of the wood chips properly, so they don’t end up in a landfill.

If you’re not up for the challenge of removing the wood chips yourself, you may want to hire a professional to do it for you.

How Long Do Wood Chips Last?

Before installing wood chips on your playground, you may be wondering how long they will last. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as the type of wood chips you use, the climate, and how often they are used.

Woodchips closeup image.
They can last for many years with proper care and maintenance.

Generally speaking, playground wood chips will last for several years. However, if they are constantly being used or exposed to harsh weather conditions, they may need to be replaced more frequently.

One of the things you can do to prolong the lifespan of your wood chips is to rake them regularly. This will help to aerate them and prevent compaction. It is also important to top off the wood chips when they start to get low.

How Much Do Playground Wood Chips Cost?

The cost of playground wood chips varies depending on the type of wood chips you use and the supplier you purchase them from. However, in general, they are relatively affordable. For example, a bag of cedar wood chips typically costs between $30 and $40.

If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider using recycled wood chips. These can often be found for free or at a deeply discounted price.

However, it’s important to ensure they are clean and free of contaminants before using them on your playground.


In conclusion, playground wood chips are popular for parks and playgrounds because they offer many benefits.

They are environmentally friendly, easy to install and maintain, cost-effective, and attractive. They also provide a safe surface for children to play on.

While there are some cons to using wood chips, such as the potential messiness and attractiveness to pests, these disadvantages are minor compared to the benefits of this surfacing material.

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