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What to Put Under a Swing Set

While our wooden swing sets are hand-crafted to eliminate unnecessary cuts and scrapes, we often hear the question “What should I put under my swing set?”. Traditionally, grass is featured under swing sets, but is there a safer fall surface that may prevent other serious injuries? The direct answer is yes.

Is a Fall Surface Required Under Swing Sets?

There is no rule that requires a certain type of fall surface under swing sets. It’s important to note that no fall surface will eliminate injuries due to misuse or reckless behavior. A good fall surface simply adds more insurance that your child is safe for play all summer long. Quality wooden swing sets should be built to meet ASTM standards. Sometimes kids simply lose their balance or get pushed by a classmate and a soft fall surface may eliminate bruises.

Recommended Materials to Put Under a Swing Set

We recommend putting rubber mats, wood chips, rubber mulch, pea gravel or sand under swing sets. Here is a pro and cons list of each type to help you make your decision.

Rubber Mats


rubber mats under swing sets

Rubber mats such as these offered by Playguard Surfacing may be the right fall surface to place under your swing set.

  • Low maintenance
  • Visually appealing
  • Strong and durable
  • Several different colors and designs to choose from


  • Some people are allergic to rubber
  • Higher costs
  • Some people do not like the smell

wood mulch fall suface swing sets

Wood chips and mulch is a natural, low cost alternative. However, it may cause some unnecessary splinters.


  • Low Costs
  • Natural
  • Rubber or wood mulch
  • Can be good for your lawn


  • Some maintenance required: Must add mulch periodically
  • May cause splinters
  • Some children like to throw wood chips around the backyard

Rubber Mulch

rubber mulch for under playground sets

Rubber mulch is commonly used under playground swing sets. It’s a great long term and safe solution.


  • Absorbs shock to reduce chances of injury
  • Not attactive to pesky insects
  • Easy to install
  • Low maintenance


  • Not as efffective at controlling weeds
  • Rubber mulch is highly flammable
  • The environmental and human side effects are not fully known



sand material under swingsets

Sand is an organic and low cost option for a fall surface under a swing set. However, it can make a mess around your backyard.

  • Cheaper
  • Organic
  • More visually appealing
  • Kids can also use sand as a sandbox
  • Can purchase at most home improvement store


  • Attracts cats and could potentially carry diseases (in severe cases)
  • Maintenance needed
  • Can easily be tracked into your house





Pea Gravel

pea gravel surface for playgrounds sets

Pea gravel looks similar to small rocks, but it works well under swing sets.


  • Lower costs
  • Strong and durable
  • Natural


  • Harder surface than rubber mats or mulch
  • Some maintenance required
  • Gets stuck in shoes, pants and gets tracked around more

What Should you Put Under your Swing Set?

There is no right or wrong answer as to what material to put under a swing set. Each material has it’s own benefits. A soft fall surface gives you extra piece of mind. When your kids are playing in the backyard, make sure you’re doing everything you can to make it the safest environment for them.

best surface for under swing set

What did you put under your swing set? We would love to hear from anyone that already put a fall surface under their swing set. Your story could help others make an informed decision.

This entry was posted in Pine Swing Sets, Swing Set Buyer's Guide, Swing Set Ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to What to Put Under a Swing Set

  1. MADRE says:


  2. Nancy says:

    Wondering how much the rubber mulch is please? Thanks

    • Swingset Liquidators says:

      Hi Nancy,

      Sorry for not responding to your comment earlier. For some reason, we did not receive any email notification about your comment. The cost of rubber mulch can vary. Usually your local home improvement store carries rubber mulch.
      Lew comments above are quite valuable though. Have a great day!

  3. Niecy says:

    I put the horse mats. Mats people put in the horse trailers to let the horses stand on while traveling. At times lately after 10 years a puddle after the rain will be there. Going to move mat,put down some sand,level it out and place the mats back down. Mats are sold at Southern States and weigh about 75 pounds a piece.

  4. Lew says:

    I have already used rubber mulch, it’s great. Comes in many colors, look great, if pieces get stuck on clothing and winds up in the house, just pick up the pieces and throw them back outside. No vacuuming or sweeping necessary. The only con I have with rubber mulch is the price. I paid $550 for a cubic yard (1500lbs). I just got a swing set, I think I’m going to try pea gravel. More like $60 a cubic yard and approved by New York State Child Care Council. So it’s $2200 for mulch or $250 for pea gravel. Huge difference! Another option would be to use 5″ of pea gravel and 1″ of mulch. This is also approved! Any combonation is okay as long as you are at your required height.

    • Jen says:

      My daughter’s daycare uses rubber mulch and she comes home absolutely filthy after playing. Can you get “clean” rubber mulch or is this always an issue? The other caution that I have with rubber is that the kids (2 and under) like to eat it. I have a small pile of rubber by my washing machine bc it always end up in her pockets, shoes, etc.

      • Swingset Liquidators says:

        Thank you for sharing information about kids eating the rubber mulch. That is something all parents should watch out for.

  5. Gaile says:

    How do you keep it under the swing set, what kind of boarder

  6. David says:

    DO NOT have open sand ANYWHERE in your yard; cats tend to use it to poo. Recent studies have linked human contact with cat-fecses to damage to brain chemistrey:

  7. Denial Martin says:

    Blog listing is so well, this blog very useful and you have mentioned the blog so well. This site also check:-
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  8. Dennis says:

    What materials best repels insects. That’s a big concern.

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