What's under your child's playset? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll give posting this another try.

What surfacing material do you have under your child's outdoor playset?
What are the pros and cons of the material?
What size is the area you have covered and what was the approximate cost?
What is the upkeep?

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#2 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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We have the recycled tires (rubber mulch). I did have some misgivings about the pollutants. I was reassured that it's totally clean, but I'm still not totally convinced. It's been a year and no upkeep so far (we put that weed cloth underneath). It's a little ouchy under bare feet, although neither of my DCs seem to mind.

I'm not sure of the area or exact cost (it was wrapped into the cost of the playset and installation). Pretty big area (maybe 12 feet by 8 feet?), and IIRC, around $800. I know there are places online that sell it for a pretty good price.

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#3 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 01:44 PM
 
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LuckyMommaToo,
Wondering how hot it gets in the summer. I see you're in SoCal, so I am thinking you'd get a good idea about the feel of the rubber mulch on bare feet.

TIA!

OP, we are in the same boat. We will be constructing a playset this Spring, and we're hoping to find a good surface that is eco-friendly and non-toxic. I hope you get some good replies.

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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#4 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 03:07 PM
 
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LuckyMommaToo,
Wondering how hot it gets in the summer. I see you're in SoCal, so I am thinking you'd get a good idea about the feel of the rubber mulch on bare feet.
It's definitely hot. We have to wear sandals during the afternoon in the hot months. We have the darkish brown color.

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#5 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 03:29 PM
 
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Can I add a question to the post? How do you KEEP material under your playset? We inherited a swingset from our neighbors and it's just on our lawn. Sometimes I consider putting railroad ties around it and filling it in with mulch or something, but it seems like the mulch would migrate into the lawn, which would be a mess. We're also thinking about making a pea gravel pit for dump trucks to dig in, but I really would rather not have gravel all over the lawn!

Advice from swingset pros?

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#6 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 03:42 PM
 
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the lawn.

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#7 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 03:55 PM
 
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the lawn.

Can't get any more eco-friendly than that.

That's what we had under our play set when we had one.
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#8 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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We have regular mulch. It was the cheapest option at the time for us, so we went with it. It's ok, but we could have just left the grass under there. We originally did mulch because we have dogs, and I didn't want them to poo under her swingset. I thought they wouldn't poo on the mulch, but I was wrong, they do. So I have to go poop scoop everyday anyway! The mulch is good, but we can't go on it barefoot, it's pokey. And after a year or two, we should replace it. It's been about a year now, and I definitely see where it's gotten kind of bare, so we at least need to fill in the thinner sections. HTH
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#9 of 23 Old 02-04-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Our ground here is very soft, so we don't have anything else.
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#10 of 23 Old 02-05-2008, 12:20 AM
 
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At our previous home, we had mulch/ bark under the swingset. The entire area was surrounded by 4x4s beams to keep the mulch in the play area, and it worked well. The bark/mulch was hard on *my* feet, but my kids ran around on it barefoot ALL THE TIME. We never had a problem with splinters.

At our current home, we just have plain lawn under the swingset

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#11 of 23 Old 02-06-2008, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies.

The recycled rubber sounds intriguing.

For those with plain lawn, are you able to keep grass growing around there?
The playsets I've seen placed on just lawn have bare dirt under them after a bit that gets very mucky in damp weather.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#12 of 23 Old 02-06-2008, 08:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

For those with plain lawn, are you able to keep grass growing around there?
The playsets I've seen placed on just lawn have bare dirt under them after a bit that gets very mucky in damp weather.
Another lawn playset here :

We have had our for almost 3 years and it gets tons of use. It has bare spots under the swings (where feet get dragged) and at the very bottom of the slide, but that is it.

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#13 of 23 Old 02-06-2008, 10:57 PM
 
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We have woodchips. We had a bunch of trees taken out (they were dead oake trees and pine trees) and the guy left us all the chips.
It is ouchy on bare feet but ds doesn't seem to mind. We use a thick layer so even though they are rough, it's springy if you land on them from up high.
We have regular black plastic edging that separates the chips from the grass, dh set it in higher than you would for a garden bed, and it keeps the chips in pretty well. The mulching mower picks up the ones that stray onto the grass.
They do need to be replaced every 2 years or so.
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#14 of 23 Old 02-18-2008, 05:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LuckyMommaToo View Post
We have the recycled tires (rubber mulch). I did have some misgivings about the pollutants. I was reassured that it's totally clean, but I'm still not totally convinced.
-e
I just loged in to ask the same question.. Like you I'm told that the recycled tire rubber is non-toxic... but I'm not convinced either. I feel like the least would be Asbestos from the asphalt. I think I've become one confused toxic freak mom that nobody has ever seen.
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#15 of 23 Old 02-23-2008, 04:26 AM
 
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I have been researching this issue as well. The rubber mulch is prohibitively expensive. I would go with wood mulch as my first choice, however, our cats have already fouled my garden mulch and don't bury their waste.

Unfortunately, it looks like pea gravel by default. The cost of even pea gravel for our playscape is going to be expensive. Our playscape is seven feet tall at the deck, almost fourteen feet tall at the top tarp. It's 25 feet long and 18 feet wide. So we are talking about a huge amount of gravel when you include the six foot buffers.... like 37 X 30 feet of gravel at least one foot deep.

I think lawn is OK for small low swingsets, but for larger playscapes they usually recommend some sort of soft surface to cushion any falls.
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#16 of 23 Old 02-23-2008, 04:38 AM
 
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Thanks for bringing this thread back. We're probably going to buy our playset/fort this weekend. Not sure when it will go up, but at this point, our backyard is mud and weeds, so lawn probably won't be doable. We have mulch in our current barkbox, but the kids don't like to go barefoot on it. I don't feel okay about the recycled rubber, so I am still wondering about other options.
Is there anything else out there??

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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#17 of 23 Old 02-23-2008, 11:07 AM
 
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Here is the link about playset safety surface depths: http://www.backyardcity.com/Swing-Se...-Surfacing.htm

We have "tumble safe" wood chips. They have been "tumbled" to wear off sharp edges and splinters from sticking out. They are sorta comfortable to walk on. No chemicals or colors in the mulch/chips. Originally, we had them put in at about 6-8 inch depth, to a radius about 4-6 ft from the edge of the playset. We've topped it up about every 18 months or so, when it starts to get packed down. It is not as high as the link suggests. But, at least it isn't hard ground. We also have a lot of kids come here for playdates with our homeschool group, so it isn't just our son who is at risk...

The mulch costs a bunch, but I figure it is cheaper and less painful than an ER visit/deductible.


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#18 of 23 Old 02-23-2008, 11:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dillonandmarasmom View Post
We have mulch in our current barkbox, but the kids don't like to go barefoot on it. I don't feel okay about the recycled rubber, so I am still wondering about other options.
Is there anything else out there??
Our friends did the 'pea gravel'! It is attractive, doesn't get muddy, and it is FUN itself!!

Heavy. Heavy. Heavy to install yourself. But, so much fun to play with. I would do that if you have a contained area. Otherwise it wanders all over the yard. Walking on deep pea gravel is comfortable. Stepping on individual pea gravel is not.

Stones help absorb negative energy; and it is fun to dig and scoop and pour. The gravel is a big draw as a play destination, itself. Our son is drawn to the pea gravel like a magnet. And it is more pliable, if fallen on, than mulch.


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#19 of 23 Old 02-23-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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Another lawn playset here :

We have had our for almost 3 years and it gets tons of use. It has bare spots under the swings (where feet get dragged) and at the very bottom of the slide, but that is it.
Lawn here too and ditto to the bare spots.

I would be worried about kids tripping on the railroad ties more then falling on the ground. No one has fallen the two years we've had it (knock on woodchips). My son would have any groundcover spread over the entire lawn within hours if we had some.
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#20 of 23 Old 02-24-2008, 12:28 PM
 
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The installers put up the playscape / swingset / playset / playsystem yesterday and WOW it is fantastic. We are sooooo happy with it. It's absolutely gigantic but it is so strong. To say it dominates our yard would be an understatement.

Sand would be a great option as far as the kids are concerned, but we have cats and sand would track in the house.

Wuwei, can you please tell us more about your special mulch? Where did you find it? Does it have a brand name or do we just ask for tumble safe wood chips? Do cats like those chips?

Thank you also for making pea gravel sound so fun. I did not know about the absorption of negative energy, that's definitely a plus.
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#21 of 23 Old 02-24-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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Wuwei, can you please tell us more about your special mulch? Where did you find it? Does it have a brand name or do we just ask for tumble safe wood chips? Do cats like those chips?
I really don't know. A neighbor does folk's lawns and he brought it for us. He called it "tumble safe". And explained how it was handled. I didn't see any literature or anything about it. All the pieces are about the size of a French fry (only thing I can think of, lol). They have rounded edges and no sharp points where it has been chipped. We have 6 cats, and they do not use it as a litter box. However, it gets packed down with wetness and our playset is under trees. So, they never are dried out by the sun. They are not muddy, but are packed down, not loose. No fun like the pea gravel.

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Thank you also for making pea gravel sound so fun. I did not know about the absorption of negative energy, that's definitely a plus.
I really like the pea gravel.


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#22 of 23 Old 02-24-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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It's looking more and more likely that I will use pea gravel, but the tumble safe sounds like a good alternative.
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#23 of 23 Old 02-24-2008, 03:29 PM
 
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It's looking more and more likely that I will use pea gravel, but the tumble safe sounds like a good alternative.
And you never have to replace the pea gravel. The mulch must be topped up. And the pea gravel drains and dries quickly. You can blow with a leaf blower to clear off leaves. I suppose some folks might be concerned about the small stones with toddlers. But, we've never had any issues about it.

And it is just so much fun!


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