Under swing-set ideas??

lisa120(6 Mass)April 10, 2004

We are looking for some ideas for what to put under our swing set besides dirt and patchy grass. The problem is we have LOTS of cats in our neighborhood and the kids LOVE to dig.

Someone mentioned pea-gravel????????????

Any ideas????

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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Here is a good site that recommends safe amounts of surfacing materials. It seems as if sand, pea gravel, and bark mulch or wood chips is about all that's out there. I did some research on this a while back for my church. At that time I thought the shredded rubber mulch looked pretty good as a new product. But now I have read that it smells unpleasantly like hot rubber tires in the sun, sticks to kids and their shoes, etc.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 10:08PM
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Pea gravel is a real pain. It rolls under the kids shoes, they fall. It get stuck in shoe treads and pants cuffs. When the school had it, I was alwasy picking pea gravel out of the washer. I would go with a thick layer of wood mulch.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 7:49PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

wood mulch--you just have to add more periodically.

melanie/my swingset days are past--until we have grandkids!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 6:49PM
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Here's an 'off the wall" idea which might work. Construct a frame of treated wood sized to fit the worn area. Secure a piece of remanent indoor-outdoor carpeting around the frame and tacked to the inside of the frame. Now, excavate the worn spot and set the frame just below ground level working sand underneath it for drainage. Tamp all down so everything is at ground level and safe for little ones. This should last for a few years until the they become intent on hitting baseballs through the neighbor's windows.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 7:49PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Nandina, that's so crazy it just might work!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 8:47PM
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Cedar chips, playground grade- available at professional quality landscape supply stores. - install at a thickness of 6 to 8 inches deep. - Recc. by in the know homeowners, landscape architects and goverment agencies .

Directly under the swing place a precast 2x2 concrete paver.
Go to Home Cheapo - Purchase a set of their interlocking 2x2 ( actual dims are 2'- 4" squared ) and glue with epoxy two or three layers of the dense colored foam ontop of the precast 2x2's.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 9:59AM
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We have a rubber material that we use in our park system that works GREAT under playgrounds ... it is installed with cement trowel type tools and then sets firm . The surface can be colored ... it's bouncey and safe if the kids fall on it ....

Let me know I'll check the name if you are interested.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   April 19, 2004 at 9:37PM
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AbbeysDad(z5 CNY)

We had a Rainbow play system installed a couple of years ago and used rubber mulch (shreaded tire rubber).
In contradiction to a previous post, I believe it to be the best covering for such a play area. Falling on it is like a fall on a gym mat, water drains through nicely, bugs seem to dislike it and since it was placed over landscape fabric (and uses a rubber landscape timber around the perimeter) nothings ever come up through it.
About the only bad thing I might say is that it does get hot in direct sun...and yes, if you stick your face in it when hot, is does smell like tire rubber... well, that is what it is.
I'll confess that using rubber mulch is a bit upsetting to my "organic sensibilities", but now believe that it is far safer than any other covering...Abbey's taken a few bad spills out there and has bounced back up pretty well.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 3:51PM
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lisa120(6 Mass)

Thank you for all the great ideas, however, the biggest problem is that I have two little boys that love to dig!! I bought a small toys r us sand box But it just didn't do the trick.
I think pea gravel is really my only choice.......hope cats won't like it......does anyone know for sure???

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 4:53PM
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JustTrees(USDA 5 MI)

I vote against the pea gravel and for wood mulch.

Mulch is softer than gravel, but the real advantage comes in the future. Eventually your kids will grow up and stop using the swingset. When that day comes would you prefer to pack up and truck away a bunch of rubber / gravel or would you prefer to start gardening right away in a wonderful bed where organic material has been breaking down for the past decade?

I have wood mulch under my kids swingset (with no weed mat and I have no weed problem) and the soil there is the best I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2004 at 9:36AM
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bambooo(6 CT USA)

You can always go down to the Agway and buy a couple bales of horse shavings, they are clean and smell nice.
As for keeping cats out of sand and the like try to find some oil of lemongrass it is a natural repellant, cats dislike anything smelling of citrus.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 10:31PM
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What's there now? Just dirt? Grass?

My kids don't like to wear sandals to the adventure playgroud here because they get the pea gravel caught in their shoes, and it's too slippery for my toddler as well. If your kids like to dig you could leave the whole area bare with a box of digging tools nearby--tonka toys etc,... swings get tied up and you have a nice play ground. Swings come down and away they go! I like the elongated goudge that runs under each swing from plain dirt. It looks nice at a distance. Landing from on high would be safer with a straight surface. No slivers, easy to rake clean and an additional digging factor. But the best part is that your kids are going to be swinging whichever you decide! Great!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2004 at 1:44PM
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magdalena_ca(z23 So.CA)

We have a new playground and are also debating what to place beneath it. We bought about 8 bags of mulch at The Home Depot and realized once we started to install it that the girls could no longer play barefoot in the area. Hundreds of splinters (well not quite than many) were all over our feet. OUCH! We have a large lawn area and want the kids to be able to run barefoot which they love to do. We are considering rubber mulch or small round pea gravel.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 9:58PM
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do I install the swing set first then place mulch around it, or install mulch and put the swing set on top of it?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 8:21AM
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I'm sure you have already done so, but you will want to install your swing set prior to placing your surfacing around your play area. This is because mulch, sand and pea rock will move and\or deteriorate causing anything on top of it to shift over time. You will however want to place a weed barrier down before you install your play set.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 8:11AM
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I like playground sand it feel soft on your feet like the beach sand unless there's a ton of stray cats around then u probably shouldn't I guess but we have been using it for 3 years with out any trouble I just have to add too it every spring but there are no stones or would chips to get caught in the mower and shot accross the yard at one of the kids either! Bonus! :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 4:55PM
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My vote is used scrap carpeting upside down. I wouldnt go to all the trouble as framing it, but it would be nicer if you wanted to do that. Then wood mulch over the top if you wanted. Pea gravel will end up in your house and all over your lawn and other places you dont want it. Cement pavers will cause skinned knees. Rubber mulch would be a pain to get rid of later on. Nice toddler's pool with sand for digging.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 2:38AM
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