Daring knights, vicious pirates and deadly dragons are just some of the fantasies of children at play. With all of this excitement, the last thing children are thinking about is safety. Falls from playground equipment can cause serious injury; however, using mulch on the playground will soften the ground in the even of a fall. Playground mulch can be made of wood or rubber, as both a cushioning for children as they play.
Clean the playground area thoroughly. Remove any old playground mulch, trash, stumps, stones or other obstructions that could cause injury to a child in the event of a fall. Use rakes, shovels and other tools to clean the area.
Outline the perimeter of the playground with rubber landscape timbers. These timbers will help to keep the mulch in place and limit the amount of mulch spread around by running children, wind and rain. If the timbers extend more than one or two inches above the ground, dig a trench and inter the timbers to limit their size; this will help to prevent tripping.
Install landscape fabric under the playground area; hold it in place with sandbags if necessary to prevent it from blowing away before you can install the mulch. This barrier will prevent the growth of grass and weeds in the playground area, and will also make maintenance and replacing the mulch easier.
Add the mulch to the playground area and rake it into place. Follow manufacturer instructions regarding the safe depth of mulch required; depending on the material used in the mulch, this can range from sic to 16 inches. Add more mulch to high traffic areas, such as underneath swings or at the exits to slides to allow for displacement.
Maintain the depth of the mulch by raking mulch back into place over time. Do not allow the mulch to go below the required safety depth, as you will risk serious injury to those playing on the playground.
Use a fabric landscape barrier if possible, instead of a plastic one; the fabric allows for better water drainage, which can prevent slipping, and dangerous mold growth.
Some wood mulch products should be removed and replaced every two to three years.