While a swing set should follow standards for quality, kids will naturally fall while playing. The CDC reports each year over 200,000 kids under the age of 14 visit emergency rooms for playground-related injuries.
Because of this, you may be asking yourself if you should put something under your swing set to reduce the risk of injury. This guide will help you decide if you want to put something under your swing set, as well as what you should put under it.
Keep reading to learn more.
Why Should You Have a Fall Surface?
There are no requirements for having a fall surface under your swing set. However, many choose to for safety reasons.
If you choose to put a fall surface under a swing set, it can help eliminate the impact of the fall. This precaution can reduce the bruising or soreness that follows; however, a fall surface isn’t going to prevent or eliminate the risk of falling in the first place.
What Materials Should You Use?
There are a variety of materials that would work as a fall surface under a swing set.
Some of these are…
- Wood chips
- Rubber mats
- Rubber mulch
- Pea gravel
Each of these fall-surface materials has its pros and cons, so the best choice for your play area will depend on your preferences.
Wood chips are an incredibly common fall surface to place under a swing set.
Since wood chips are a natural material, they’re much less expensive than some of the alternatives. Because of the natural look that wood chips give to the area, you may find that they’re more visually pleasing in your yard or playground.
Wood chips can also be better for your lawn, as they can add moisture to the soil and suppress weeds.
One downfall of using wood chips as a fall surface is the fact that they can give splinters to children if they walk across or fall on them. Also, wood chips require replacement frequently as they get wet and can start to rot. You may also find that if you’re using them on a playground or in a yard with many children, children like to throw them. This act can cause injuries if they get into any kid’s eyes.
Rubber mats are a pretty simple addition to put under a swing set, whether your swing set is for residential or commercial purposes.
Many people think that rubber mats are much more visually appealing than natural alternatives. They come in a variety of colors, but the sleek black is the most commonly used. Not only do the rubber mats look nice, but they’re incredibly durable.
Rubber mats can be used for years with even the rowdiest children without needing to be replaced. The low maintenance that these mats require also makes them appealing to anyone who owns a swing set.
While the rubber mats are durable, you’re going to pay more money upfront for them than you would a natural alternative. Also, this mat may become a problem if someone who is allergic to rubber will be using the swing set. Lastly, many people find the smell of rubber to be too overwhelming, especially in the summer when the rubber heats up.
If you like the feel of a rubber mat but the ability to spread the material out like wood chips, you have the best of both worlds with rubber mulch.
Rubber mulch can reduce the impact of falls by absorbing the shock of it. This material will leave children less bruised or sore following a fall. Also, bugs aren’t attracted to the rubber mulch as they may be to wood chips or real mulch. If you have a child playing on the swing set with a bee allergy, this may be a lifesaver.
Additionally, rubber mulch is easy to install and doesn’t require much maintenance.
While rubber mulch is durable, it isn’t going to offer the same benefits to your lawn as a natural mulch would. Since this is manufactured mulch and created by humans, we aren’t quite sure of the impact it has on our health or environment. Lastly, in the case of a fire, rubber mulch poses a threat as it’s highly flammable.
If you’re looking for a natural option to put under your swing set, natural sand may be an excellent option for you.
Like wood chips, sand is less expensive than many other materials since it’s a natural material. Many people also feel like it looks the best in their yard if they’re looking for a natural appearance. Not only does sand help reduce injury in the case of a fall, but you can always buy extra or use leftovers to create a sandbox for your children.
You can find sand at almost any home improvement store, so you don’t have to worry about special-ordering it.
While sand is an inexpensive option, it may become a problem if you have outdoor cats. Cats often mistake sand for cat litter, so they may use your child’s play area as a bathroom. Additionally, sand can attract insects and be tracked into the house easily.
If you’re looking for a natural material to put under your swing set, pea gravel may also be an excellent option.
Pea gravel not only adds a natural feel to your lawn, but it’s also durable. If you’re looking for a natural material but don’t want to replace it often like you have to with sand and wood chips, you may find that pea gravel works the best.
While pea gravel is visually appealing, it is a little bit harder than rubber, wood chips, or sand. So, while it will help lessen the impact of falls from a swing, it won’t help as much as the softer materials. Also, pea gravel can easily get stuck in shoes, which could result in it tracked all throughout your home.
Creating a Fall Surface for Your Yard
While no regulations are stating that you need to put a fall surface under your swing set, many people prefer to for safety reasons.
Each material that you can put under your swing set has its own set of pros and cons, so the best choice will depend on your unique situation.