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Mulch for Playgrounds | Best Materials for Playgrounds

When it comes to children playing, safety is key. With plenty of falls and jumps happening at the playground, parents expect their kids to land safely and get back to the key task at hand – play. So, we’ve made a list of some of the best materials and mulch for playgrounds to ensure everyone has a good, safe time.

Engineered Wood Fiber

Engineered wood fiber (EWF) makes a great surface for playgrounds. The wood chips, specifically chosen for their type and side, do not have any other debris or twigs mixed in. In fact, once the EWF is laid out, the surface is smooth enough that people in wheelchairs can easily (and safely) move around the playground

Another reason why we love EWF is that it is affordable. Wood chips and mulch range from about 80 cents to two dollars per square foot. Plus it’s durable so you won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon.

WoodCarpet Mulch

As a cost-effective engineered wood fiber known for its ability to absorb high impacts, as well as excellent slip resistance and accessibility, our WoodCarpet Mulch system makes an excellent playground base. There are plenty of reasons WoodCarpet is among the top mulch for playgrounds; just take a look at the benefits of WoodCarpet:

WoodCarpet mulch for playground
Benefits of WoodCarpet Mulch for Playgrounds
  • Excellent traction and grip characteristics
  • Fast drainage to avoid water pooling
  • Deep shock absorption for safer play
  • Unbeatable durability and wear resistance
  • Cost-saving accessories that decrease maintenance costs
  • Excellent value that fits your budget

It’s easy to see why more and more customers are turning to our proven wood play surfaces for their outdoor parks, yards, structures, and other areas where children play. EWF mulch looks great, making it the obvious choice for natural settings.

Also, this mulch drains incredibly well so you don’t have to worry about the problems that come along with standing water, such as:

  • Pools of water discourage children from playing
  • Standing water attracts bugs, flies, and water-borne illnesses
  • Puddles freeze in cold climates, making play dangerous
  • Water buildup causes mold and bacterial growth
  • Pooling of water deteriorates wood play surfaces over time

In most situations, 3-4 inches of gravel below your WoodCarpet with a Duraliner layer in between is enough to keep water draining properly and the mulch in great shape for years. If maintaining your EWF between top-offs takes longer than it should, you can also install foam drainage panels in place of the gravel layer to get extra fall protection.

Rubber Tiles

Rubber is a reliable playground surface that offers many color options, creating a safe and pleasing aesthetic. Also, rubber tiles are incredibly durable and protect the soil. However, not all rubber tiles are built the same.

Bounce Back Tiles and the Soft Land Series of rubber tiles are both designed to meet federally mandated Critical Fall Height rules for playground equipment up to ten feet tall. They also frequently perform fall tests to ensure their products are as safe as possible in the event of a playground fall.

Wood and rubber mulch products are easily displaced, resulting in inadequate thickness/protection in large areas of the playground. They also present an opportunity for young children to swallow, throw, or kick the material. Poured-in-Place products can only be installed in specific weather conditions which limits the window for installation. Rubber tiles eliminate these problems and offer the assurance of safe surfacing for children’s play areas.


  • Eco-Friendly
  • Durable
  • Easy Installation
  • Easy To Clean
  • American Made
  • Custom Color
  • Offers Full Playground Protection
  • Can be used in Swing & Slide Impact Areas
  • Can be used in any High Impact Area
  • Rated Fall Heights of 3′, 5′, 6′, 8′ & 10′
Rubber Tiles for playground

Synthetic Turf

Another popular playground surface is synthetic turf. Often called artificial grass, turf looks like natural grass, but comes with the added benefit of not needing to water, mow, or weed. All it takes is an occasional rinse to remove any debris.

Furthermore, turf provides impact absorption, which makes it easy to run and play on while offering a safe landing. Synthetic turf is non-slippery when wet and offers a level surface for people in wheelchairs and strollers.

To keep turf looking and filling it’s best, use Envirofill to give your playground a better cushion similar to a natural surface area. Also, Envirofill doesn’t migrate and provides a consistent, level surface, even in high traffic areas. Some other benefits of Envirofill include:

  • It is clean, safe, and does not track
    • Say “goodbye” to grass stains
    • Fights mold, mildew, and bacteria
    • It is safe for kids to give parents peace of mind.
  • Easy installation
    • Quickly settles into the turf saving you time, effort and aggravation
    • With it’s 16-year warranty, Envirofill can be used in a second turf cycle
  • Aesthetics
    • Emerald green color will blend into your turf fibers giving you the beautiful lush appearance of a natural play area

Natural Grass

And lastly, there is always the option of natural grass.

For one, grass naturally absorbs carbon dioxide and lets out oxygen to provide fresh, natural air. Also, in the event of rain, grass filters rainwater. And people do love the smell of fresh grass.

Finally, natural grass is an affordable option and doesn’t require too much maintenance, just occasional waterings. However, if you live in an area with a limited water supply, another option may work better unless rain is expected often.

Find your next mulch for playgrounds or other playground surfaces and contact us with any questions or to get a quote on your next project.

  1. Dr. Linda Jacobs
    Dr. Linda Jacobs
    May 10, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    I am looking for a playground surface to replace a current mulch surface that is not sufficiently deep to meet code. I need something durable and ADA accessible. Do you service Annapolis, Maryland?

    • jake
      June 8, 2023 at 9:26 am

      Hi Linda,

      Were you trying to get a specific fall height? Were you wanting to go with a completely different material than mulch?

      Facility Expert

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