Why Playground Wood Chips are Safer than Rubber Mulch

Playground wood chips and rubber mulch both work to provide a soft landing spot for kids who take a tumble when they’re playing outside. However, the latter option, made of shredded rubber from old tires, could pose a potential safety risk.

To cushion kids who fall from or near the swings, slides, jungle gyms and other equipment at the playground, wood chips are a safe, time-tested ground covering choice. Here’s why experts recommend engineered wood fiber over rubber mulch for playground areas.

playground wood chips safer

Why Rubber Mulch May Not Be Best for Playgrounds

Although some studies have found no risks in using rubber mulch at the playground, many experts aren’t convinced that shredded rubber tires are safe.

Tires contain synthetics and toxic chemicals, and shredding isn’t likely to remove all of these hazardous substances. Rubber mulch has the potential to be a health risk, particularly for young children whose systems are still developing.

In addition, shredded rubber tires frequently leach color – many children who play on the surface come home covered in black marks. Washing up might be easy enough, but why deal with the extra hassle when you can choose engineered wood fiber chips instead?

The Wisdom in Using Playground Wood Chips

Unlike rubber mulch, wood chips are free of chemicals and harmful substances. And, since the wood used comes from mature forests with little human activity, the chips have little chance of causing an allergic reaction.

What’s more, the engineered wood fiber packs down into a firm, slip-resistant surface. When properly installed, strollers and wheelchairs have no trouble crossing the ground covering – which means the landscape material is complaint with special needs guidelines and safety standards.

Planning for Playground Safety

Engineered wood fiber chips look a lot like landscape mulch, but the individual chip sizes are smaller – typically, no more than two inches long – and the wood is ground down from the inner parts of trees, not the bark. As a result, the ground covering is unlikely to cause splinters.

Wood chips are a safer choice than rubber mulch for playgrounds, but quantity matters. For effective cushioning under the equipment, you need a layer that’s at least 9 inches deep. However, since the ground covering compacts from use and weathering, start with a minimum depth of 12 inches.

For optimal safety, rake the wood chips periodically to reduce compaction. And, as needed, use new chips to top off the playground surface and maintain the proper amount of cushioning.

Looking for a trustworthy northern Utah supplier of safe, high-quality playground wood chips? Look no further than The Dirt Bag, a locally-owned and operated company with a strong reputation for exceptional landscape products at low prices.

The Dirt Bag offers to-your-door delivery service throughout Salt Lake County and the surrounding northern Utah area. To place an order or arrange delivery of our bagged or bulk playground wood chips, contact our West Jordan office today.