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What is the Best Material to Put Under a Swing Set?

by Backyard Marketplace on April 10, 2022
What is the Best Material to Put Under a Swing Set?

Choosing the best material to put under a swing set will guarantee a safe space for your kids when they are playing. There are many materials you can use, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

To ensure a safe play station for your kids you must wisely choose swing sets and surfacing materials for under swing sets. Check out which among them is the best material to put under a swing set, the material you need to avoid, and important factors to consider when buying one.

The Best Material to Put Under a Swing Set

Rubber mulch

Rubber mulch is the best material to put under a swing set. It is designed specifically to be used on playgrounds. It is made from recycled tires torn down into small pieces. Since it is made of rubber, durability is guaranteed perfect for long-term usage.



Impact absorption: Among all the materials we will mention, the rubber mulch has the most effective impact absorption. A six inches thick rubber mulch can protect anyone who falls on it from ten feet high. To make the most of this feature, make sure you cover all high-traffic areas in your child's playground to ensure safety.

Long-term costs: It takes years to get worn out, which means you will not need to replace or maintain it from time to time.

Low maintenance: Rubber mulch is a durable and high-quality material surfacing option for playgrounds. Therefore, you may not need to spend a lot on maintenance.

Available in different colors: If you have a specific theme you want to achieve for your kid's playground, you have many color options to choose from to fit your preferred design.

Insect-free: Rubber mulch adds more safety to your kids since it does not attract insects on it. With this feature, you can also ensure your kids are free from insect bites that cause irritation or rashes.


Expensive initial cost: You need to spend more on your first purchase of rubber mulch, so it may not be a good option if you lack the budget. But if you can spend more, it can be a good investment as you can save more in the long run.

Expensive initial cost

Flammable: Rubber is not a flammable material, and it is an uncommon scenario for rubber mulch to get caught on flames. But once a rubber burns, it may be difficult to extinguish.

Potential choking hazard: Depending on the form you will buy, the rubber mulch can be a potential choking hard for children.

Presence of toxic materials: Since rubber is petroleum-based, there may be toxic chemicals from the rubber that may be passed on to your child. Therefore, ensure the quality and the brand where you will buy since you can guarantee that the rubber mulch is processed properly from those established manufacturers.

Wood mulch

It is also called a wood chip, these tiny pieces of wood are similar to rubber mulch except for the fact that they, of course, are wood. Overall, it is a fairly safe option and costs much cheaper compared to rubber mulch.


Naturally aesthetic: Wood mulches can go well with any background. So if you want to achieve a more visually appealing playground for your kids, you can also choose this material.

Decent shock absorption: A wood mulch with nine inches of thickness can protect anyone who falls on it from up to seven feet.

Good slip resistance: If you have kids who also run around, wood mulch can prevent the possibility of them slipping since wood can absorb and drain moisture preventing a slippery surface.

Less up-front costs: It costs cheaper compared to rubber mulch on your first buy, so you can choose this one instead.

Environmentally-free: It does not contain any toxins or harmful substances that may be bad for your children or damage surrounding plants and soil.


Chance of getting splinters: Kids may tend to have splinters from wooden chips when playing on their swing, especially if they touch it with their hands or they are on their bare feet.

Wood Mulch to Put Under a Swing Set

Choking hazard: Similar to rubber mulch, if the wooden mulch is loose-fill, children may easily pick it and put it in their mouth. Therefore, you cannot use it if you have a toddler at home.

Frequent maintenance: Loose-fill wood mulches are easy to scatter around, so you may need to fix them in place every time your kids finish playing on them. Wood can also decay easily, so you may need to replace it from time to time once it wears down.

Susceptible to mold and insects: If your area is often wet, should avoid using wood mulch for your kids' swing set since molds can easily grow on them. Some insects may also tend to inhabit it without you noticing.

Easily freezes during winter: If you live in an area where it gets colder during winter and often has strong snowfall, you also need to avoid a wood mulch since it easily freezes in the cold.

Pea gravel

Pea gravels are often used in above-ground projects like parks or gardens, but not in playgrounds since it does not seem to attract more people to it. This material is also confused with crushed stone but this one is softer when touched and provides better shock absorption. It is a good option for those looking for cheaper alternatives to use for their swing sets.


Adequate shock absorption: It does a good amount of shock absorption and support because of its softer touch compared to crushed stones or pebbles.

Low initial cost: A good alternative option for those who are on a tight budget and want to buy a material right away.

Provides cleanliness: Pea gravels are neat looking, but that's not all there is when it comes to cleanliness. It also does not support the growth of microorganisms and does not attract animals, so your kids are safe from being exposed to them.

Natural aesthetics: The natural look of the pea gravels is perfect if you want to complement the design of your garden or backyard or achieve the perfect backyard swing set for your kids.


Pea Gravel to Put Under a Swing Set

Choking hazard: Pea gravel is a loose-fill type material, hence it is not suitable for toddlers since they may pick a piece of it and put it in their mouth.

Lack of ADA accessibility standards: A playground with pea gravels is hard for people with disabilities or using wheelchairs to navigate on.

High maintenance cost: Purchasing pea gravels may be cheaper but in the long run, you will need to spend an expensive amount on maintenance costs since it breaks down easily.

Regular maintenance: Since pea gravel is a type of loose-fill material, it is made of smaller pieces that form what they called a “hardpan.” Even though this surface is hard to break, it can cause harm to the person who will fall on it. Therefore, every time you see the pea gravels start to break down into smaller pieces, you need to replace them right away to avoid any injuries.


Sand is considered the most common material to use for playgrounds. And, indeed, it is true since we can see a lot of parks and playgrounds with children playing on the sands. It may have a lot of benefits to offer but there are also some things you should take note of if you are eyeing sands to use underneath your swing set.


A fair amount of shock absorption: Yes, sands may not offer the best shock absorption compared to other best material to put under a swing set, but it still offers comfort and safety. Children also love to play on it.

Affordable and easy to install: You can buy sand for an affordable rate and do the installation on your own without further assistance.

Natural aesthetic: It is perfect to match most landscapes, especially when it is clean. It can add more beauty to your playground with its aesthetic appeal.


Need constant maintenance: Just like any loose-fill material, sand is susceptible to getting misplaced at all times. Kids will surely kick them around.

High maintenance cost: You need to always maintain clean sand for your kids to play, but the problem is sands often get dirty easily. That is why it is advisable to replace them once a year. You may not notice the expensive cost at first but if you add up the annual expenses, you might think of just buying a more expensive material with lower maintenance cost.


Rubber mulch, wood mulch, pea gravel, and sand are the most common materials to use in playgrounds. Though rubber mulch is considered the best material to put under a swing set, it may not meet other people’s concerns, especially the cost, as it is quite expensive.

The other materials are also good to use as well and can provide almost the same safety level to your kids as they play on their swing set. The safety of the children should be the number one factor to prioritize when it comes to this matter, so choose the material and swing sets that are best for your kids.


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