What to put under swing set: 6 Best ground cover materials

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Playing in the backyard on the playsets is a great outdoor activity for children. It is healthy, it helps them socialize and it is great for their mental growth.

This is why a lot of parents would have playsets like swing sets with trampolines and slides in their backyard.

Now, although these swing sets are safe and all, there is a good chance that your kids will lose balance and fall off eventually.

The worst thing that could happen is that they land on their head after falling off a swing or something.

A report from CDC says that every year more than 200000 kids under the age of 13 visit the emergency rooms. All because of playground-related injuries.

Now you can’t always be there with them to keep an eye on them. But, you could change the landing surface beneath them. That way, they might not get hurt whichever way they land.

To help you out, we have made this blog on what to put under a swing set.


Do you have to put something under a swing set?

We recommend that you have some sort of an impact absorber under the swing set for the safety of your children. A soft fall surface can greatly reduce the impact of a fall.

How do you prepare the ground for a swing set?

Just level the ground you chose to install the playset on and make room for the anchors to set in. Make sure there is no obstacle like trees or rocks near the playset. Once the playset is installed, you can now pour in the safety mulch for protection.

What to put under the swing set?

Backyard swing sets are not too tall, especially the ones that are meant for toddlers. However, any kid falling from a 2 or 3 feet height and landing on their head could be dangerous. That’s why you have to use some sort of shock absorbers to make the playground safe. Let’s take a look at some of the ground covers:

  • Wood playground mulch.
  • Rubber playground mulch
  • Pea Gravel
  • Sand
  • Rubber mats
  • Grass (Artificial and Natural)

1 – Wood playground mulch:

Wood mulch is just simple wood flakes and scraps piled and scattered under the playsets. They cost very little and are very easy to maintain. They have zero installation costs. However, you will have to regularly rake them back to place, or else they will pile up someplace where you don’t need them.

Related Posts  6 Best swing set with slide and trampoline for small yard

Wood playground mulch gives a natural vibe and aesthetic look. The only problem with wood mulch is that things could get lost under the pile of mulch and they are susceptible to insect inhabitation.

Kids could get splinters from wood mulch and there is a good chance for choking hazards.

2 – Rubber playground mulch:

Rubber mulch doesn’t give the natural vibe that wood mulch gives. Little bits of rubber make up this mulch and it costs a lot higher than wood mulch. Its initial cost might be a lot but the long-term cost is relatively low.

Just take a look at Rubberific Rubber Mulch. It is a natural color shredded rubber mulch. 

The only thing you need to do for maintenance is that you will have to rake it sometimes. It has no other costs but that. It doesn’t rot, unlike wood mulch. It doesn’t catch any infestation and it is probably the best impact absorber.

3 – Pea Gravel:

Pea gravels are not the best impact absorbers. They cost less, they have low maintenance and they don’t rot. The only problem is that they hurt when you land on them. You can land safely on them but you will get some reflected damage from them.

Also, it is hard to maintain balance on them especially on rainy days or when they are wet.

4 – Sand:

Sand is the low-maintenance, low-cost worry-free material to put under literally anything. Sand is not the best shock absorber but not the worst either.

The only problem with sand is that it will be extremely hot on sunny days. Kids allergic to dust could have problems with sand.


5 – Rubber mats:

Rubber mats are the best. This is the best investment you can possibly do to make your playsets safer. Thick rubber mats can absorb any kind of shock.

The only problem is that they are really expensive, but they have a lot of features. Take a look at RevTime Rubber Tiles.

6 – Grass (Artificial and Natural):

The grass is good too. They work as good shock absorbers, but not the best. They have a sweet natural vibe and look very aesthetic.

How to Choose the best ground cover to put under a swing set?

We have listed a lot of fall surface options above and we know that now, you are confused. You might be wondering, “Which one should I choose?”

Well, to help you out we want to give you some tips.

Tip #1 Consider the sustainability:

Go for the one that can sustain long enough. Wood mulch probably has the lowest sustainability. It is so basic and it becomes mushy when it loses quality. It loses quality quickly from rain and insect infestation.

The other options are probably better in this case. The rubber mats are probably the best.

Tip #2 Consider the price:

Affordability is always an issue. Choose the material that is easy to get and offers enough value.

Tip #3 Consider the maintenance:

Some materials require high maintenance. Wood mulch, rubber mulch, and sand require everyday raking to be in place. Otherwise, they will scatter in places where you don’t need them.

Rubber mats are completely hassle-free. You put them down once and you are good for life.

Tip #4 Consider the looks:

Some materials look better than others. The wood mulch and pea gravel give a natural vibe. Rubber mulch has different colors.

All of them have the potential to affect the aesthetic of your playset.

Alright, we hope our tips help you make a good decision. Since you’ve just read a blog on the things to put under your swing set, how about you check a blog about swing sets?

Check out our blog on the best swing sets with slides and trampolines. You might find something interesting there.

So, overall what is the best material to put under a swing set

We have already pointed out a few considerations in the above section to help you choose the right fall surface material for you. If you think about those points then you will quickly realize that your affordability and maintenance of the materials have top priority.

In this case, we can say that the Rubber mulch is the best and our first pick. We would have picked Rubber Mats as the best fall surface, as they can absorb and eliminate body shock.

However, not everyone can afford a play yard full of rubber mats.

Related Posts  6 Best swing set with slide and trampoline for small yard


  1. Very little maintenance is required. You will have to rake them back in place every now and then.
  2. No mess, no fading of color.
  3. All-weather resistant.

For our second pick, we have chosen Artificial Grass.

The natural grass when fully grown, trimmed, and leveled can work as a fall surface. The ground which the grass is on is also very soft. The green surface keeps it soft.

The only problem with the natural grass surface is that it takes a long time to grow up that natural grass surface. So the solution most suggested is to get artificial turf.

Artificial grass turf is ready-made and works just like real grass. The greatest benefit is that they require zero maintenance once you put them down. The natural grass, however, is a lot of hard work.

This is why we have chosen artificial grass. Also, they are affordable.


  1. Natural vibe.
  2. Zero maintenance required.
  3. Color fades very slowly.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What do you put under a swing set?

You can put many things under a swing set like wood or rubber mulch, pea gravel, sand. We recommend putting something that is affordable and requires little maintenance. Something like the rubber mat, or artificial grass.

What is the best material to use under a swing set?

Rubber mats are the best thing you can put under a playset, but since they are very expensive we don’t recommend them. We recommend you go for rubber mulch instead. Rubber mulch is more affordable and works great for protecting the kids.

Final Thoughts…

It is not mandatory for you to put something under a playset or a swing set. There is no rule or regulation for that.

However, there is no guarantee that your child will never lose balance and fall off. Children’s playsets are usually short and not too tall. The ones that are recommended for 5-6-year-old kids are usually very short like 5ft 10 inches.

So it wouldn’t hurt anyone if they fall from that short height. However, you can’t guarantee a safe landing or a low-impact fall on an ordinary fall surface.

Why not just have something to put under your swing set or playset? Even a cheap and really bad fall surface like pea gravel can reduce the impact of falling. It’s like something is better than nothing.

Plus, the options we have listed above honestly look good under a playset. Each of them has its own vibe.

Dave Mueller

Hey, I'm Dave. I like to write about things that interest me. I'll write about anything from current events to personal experiences. I hope you enjoy what you read and please feel free to leave me any feedback.