Whether it's a simple swing set or a complex combination playset and playhouse, how you cover the ground is important. Playground chips are designed to give a safe surface for minor falls and tumbles while also preventing unwanted weed growth underneath the playset. The following can help you better utilize mulch in your yard.
There are three types of mulch commonly seen around play sets -- gravel, rubber, and wood. Gravel isn't as popular as it used to be because hard rocks are uncomfortable underfoot and are more likely to result in injury if a child falls. Rubber mulch provides plenty of cushioning, but steps must be taken to ensure it doesn't migrate outside of the playground area since it won't decompose and it may damage lawn equipment.
Wood mulch, also called bark or chips, provides some cushion. Bark chips and nuggets are less likely to cause splinters, but these options are sometimes more expensive than wood chips. Wood mulch also degrades over time, so it will need periodic replenishing.
A major concern is how well the mulch holds up. Rubber mulches can survive for a long time, which can be an issue if you ever want to remove them. Wood chips can simply be raked into the soil to decompose if you want them removed, but there may be some concern with how well they provide shock absorption. Fortunately, wood mulch can also be combined with rubber mats, which can make it the optimum solution around a playset. Use mats in areas with lots of wear, such as beneath swings, or in areas where a bit more cushioning is desired, such as at the base of a slide.
It's also important to consider weed growth. No matter what type of mulch you ultimately go with, weeds that penetrate the mulch layer are a problem. Installing a base of compacted sand and covering it with weed-blocking landscape fabric before installing the mulch is your best option for preventing weeds beneath the playset. Further, it is important to install edging around the mulched area. The edging keeps weeds from crossing into the mulch area while also containing the mulch so it doesn't spread to the rest of the yard.
For more information on your playground chip options, contact a playground mulch supplier in your area. They can guide you to the right option for your yard and playset.