So, we got little tikes play thing for DS from a friend. DH wants to build a little area for it and put cedar chips in - he knows the grass will die so he wants it to look nice. He says they are also good for bugs, and this thing had alot of scary looking spiders on it when we picked it up today. The yard looking nice is important to him. Please, please, help me find a good alternative to cedar chips. I know they have toxic fumes and DS will (try to) eat them.
Well, you made me question myself - maybe this was a false memory? Here are some sources I googled on cedar, unfortunatly pine seems to be the same. I have not done extensive research, just a few things on the internet, not sure about organic stuff -
Also, some of these articles are about other animals (not humans) but I still find them compeling.
They are talking about cedar beds (where a sensitive animal would sleep) and cedar oil allergies in some animals who sleep on cedar beds.
You would not be using them that way, and unless your child has a cedar oil allergy, I don't find any information that would show them to be dangerous.
That said, can you do another kind of mulch if yu are worried? What about just planting grass, and letting it get tramped on? (I would suggest sand, but I know sand has also been shown to be a problem).
We have guinea pigs and I know they are not supposed to have cedar but that doesn't mean it's bad for US... they're not allowed any wood shavings/chips that have oils in them and should preferably have kiln-dried only (if we could afford it) or paper/straw bedding.
I think cedar is a great option and the oils may help keep out bugs and other animals. Grass just gets yucky / muddy under play structures...
Another option might be seeing if your area gives away free woodchip mulch (ours does!). Much less costly, although it's probably less beautiful as well.