Both rubber and wood mulch are safe, environmentally friendly choices for your home playground surface, but have different costs associated with their initial investment and maintenance over time. Mulches are safe surfaces to use on a playground since they are absorbable and can prevent serious injury making them great alternatives to sand or rubber matting.
Types of Mulch. Mainly you will find that loose fill material such as shredded bark or rubber used as playground surfaces. You should plan to use a 9 – 12” depth of bark underneath playground equipment to insure proper safety. Rubber mulch will only need to be 6” deep by contrast. Keep these measurements in mind as you price out the amount of mulch you will need for your backyard play set.
About Rubber Mulch. Rubber mulch is an eco-friendly surface solution that is created from scrap tires. It will not mold or mildew, nor will it attract unwanted critters to your playground. In terms of cost, it does not need to be replaced yearly like a wood mulch so it is a cost effective option for your home playground surface. According to Brad Pittam in his article, Rubber Mulch: The Natural Choice, “When you compare the expense of an annual application of wood mulch with an up-front purchase of rubber mulch, rubber mulch actually costs up to 65 percent less over a nominal five-year period.”
About Bark Mulch. Up front, bark mulch will be a cost effective choice for your playground surface. However, think twice about using this material if you live in an area associated with termites in which case, using preserved wood is a good option. One thing to watch out for is mulch that is too good to be true when it comes to price because it could be made from bad wood carrying bugs and disease. You will need to freshen up bark mulch annually, since it will weather.