Wood mulch (Photo: @areide via Twenty20)

What to Put Under a Swing Set

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Wood mulch (Photo: @areide via Twenty20)
Installing a swing set in your backyard involves more than assembling the play structure and throwing it in an open space.
A couple things to keep in mind are the swing set’s proximity to obstructions and the terrain beneath the swing set. Ensuring the swing set isn’t within jumping distance of your fence or patio furniture is easy enough (if you take into consideration your children will likely have competitions as to who can jump the farthest), but how do you know what to put under your swing?
It goes without saying, whatever you put under your swing shouldn’t be overly abrasive (like concrete) because rough terrain will exasperate any potential injuries if a child were to fall.
Are you putting a swing set in your backyard? Here are some of the best materials and terrains to place under it.

What materials can you put under a swing set?

When installing a swing set or a playset, the material or terrain beneath it is an important safety factor you should take into careful consideration.
Natural grass: Natural grass is a perfectly viable option to go under your swing set. The natural give of fresh grass provides a good cushion for falls and jumps. However, there are a few things to take into consideration, namely, maintaining the grass and expedited wear. If you opt for natural grass, you have to make sure it doesn’t grow too long because it could obstruct rocks and other objects or materials that could hurt swingers. It will also wear down after years of play. The once pristine grass under your swing set could easily turn into unforgiving muddy ruts. If you suspect your swing set will be getting a lot of use, it might be a good idea to choose another ground cover.
Artificial turf: Unlike natural grass, artificial grass doesn’t need to be mowed. Synthetic turf is also softer and more shock absorbent than natural grass and it won’t wear down as quickly. Wood mulch: Wood mulch is one of the most popular loose fill materials to place under playground equipment and swing sets. Not only is it arguably the best material for cushioning falls and jumps, it also looks (and even smells) great.
Rubber mulch: The soft and shock-absorbent nature of rubber makes rubber mulch a great option for under your swing set; however, it can be easily knocked into the surrounding yard and get caught in your lawnmower.
Pea gravel: Pea gravel is affordable and its small size and soft texture help cushion falls.

How to prepare your yard for a swing set

Once you’ve decided on the material you want to place under your swing set, you need to prepare the area and assemble the swing set. For this, you need the following tools:
  • Tape measure
  • Claw hammer
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Chosen material (for under the swing set)
  • Swing set (including tools for assembly)
  • Anchors
Once you have the tools you need, it’s time to prepare the area for the swing set and put it in place. The order of the steps can vary according to the material you place underneath the swing set and how you anchor the swing set.
Choose a location: Start by choosing a nice open, level spot free of obstructions. You should also look for an area that will give a six-foot radius around the swing set.
Level the area: Once you’ve chosen an area to place your swing set, it’s time to mark out exactly where the swing set will go. If needed, this is the time to use a shovel and level to even out the area even more.
Assemble the swing set: Once the surface is ready, assemble the swing set and place it into position. Make sure everything is level.
Install the anchors: You should install any anchors before you lay down any surface materials, such as rubber mulch or pea gravel. Once these materials are in place, it will be harder to install the anchors. If you’re going to use concrete to secure the poles of the swing set, now is a good time to dig the holes.
Lay down the protective surface: Unless you’re using the area’s natural grass or installing artificial turf, lay down the surface material during this step. If you have holes in the ground for the legs, you might want to put the swing set in place, pour the concrete, and allow it to dry before placing any materials.
Put the swing set in place: Make sure the swing set is stable before moving onto the next step.
Anchor the swing set: Finally, anchor the swing set using your chosen method. When anchoring a swing set, any chains or wiring you use should be tight and have no slack in them to prevent the swing set from tipping or falling over.