Playground Safety and Design/safest playground groundcover


There are many differing opinions and articles about playground recycled rubber tires for it safe and how do you find a reputable source? is there a rating i need to look for. What about wood chips and artificial turf? i want a safe environment for my grandchildren. thank you for your time and expertise.

I have never been a real fan for loose rubber ground-cover. Basically it is ground-up old tires and I have always had a problem with disposing of what is considered toxic waste, on children's playgrounds. Artificial turf is great but for home use way to costly, the turf needs to be installed over a bed of shredded tires or similar base. Natural oak-chips are acceptable and affordable but have a lot of short falls. They do not drain well, get kicked around a lot, compact very quickly, eventually decompose and turn into dirt and need to be almost yearly added to. In my opinion, by far, the best choice for ground-cover for residential play areas is very small rocks called "P"gravel, it might go by another name in your area of the country. The wide spread use of gravel for ground-cover only went away when the ADA got involved because it is not wheelchair accessible, plus manufactures and installers could not make a lot of money from using it so they turned to promoting more profitable options. Gravel is very affordable, meets all safety standards, never needs replacement, is clean, drains well, dries fast, requires very little maintenance and even provides some play value for young ones. The only thing it requires is a good frame to contain it. Usually we would use 6x6 oak ties staked to the ground and filled with 5 to 6 inches of gravel. The frame should be 6 feet away from any structure, bottom of slide and twice that in front and behind swings. Good luck, Bob  

Playground Safety and Design

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Bob Meihaus


I can provide experienced answers, options, solutions and personal opinion on almost any topic concerning children`s playgrounds residential or commercial. Including questions on design, construction, maintenance, groundcover, accesiblity and most importantly safety.


For 23 years owner of custom design and build playground company. Over that time designed and built thousands of residential and commercial play structures.

Certified Safety Inspector and member ASTM committees on playground safety for commercial and residential play areas.

©2016 All rights reserved.