What is the best playground mulch?  Wood or rubber chippings?

Playing is a vital part for children as some of the best memories are made in playgrounds as they explore new adventures. With a variety of options available as ground cover, finding playground mulch that is essential and convenient for your children’s playground may be a challenging task.

As much as there are sweet memories made while playing, so are soar memories. It is inevitable for children to fall on the ground, and this may sometimes lead to broken bones, head injury, or even painful scrapes. This is scary for parents; hence a more favorable surface is required.

There are a variety of mulches available in the market, but when it comes to selecting between rubber and wood mulch, the task is equally challenging. Here are some of the qualities of both rubber and wood mulch to help you get the mulch of your choice.

Wood mulch: engineered and pinewood mulch

Is playground wood mulch safe?

Safety is a vital concern for many parents. Still, compared to using outdated materials like asphalt or opting to use no mulch at all, wood mulch or wood chips will do a pretty sufficient job when it comes to protecting your children. Consumer Product Commission rates wood mulch as an above-average playground surface. Wood mulch comes in mainly two types, that is, engineered wood mulch and the pinewood mulch.

Something advantageous about pinewood mulch is that there are different options of pine bark chips to choose from in terms of tenderness. You can pick between finely shredded pieces or larger ones. Pine mulch does not readily decompose compared to cypress mulch and consequently prevents soil-borne diseases as well as increases the soil moisture retention ability.

The engineered wood mulch is usually colorful and provides a superior visual appearance to the playground as it matches any landscape. The chips are affordable, although they are more priced than other options. The option is durable, with a relatively low upkeep cost.

Engineered wood chips, on the other hand, are a little more pricy than other options but are one of the most durable with a low upkeep cost. This type of wood mulch may, however, contain shattered glass and may require frequent replacement if you need a consistent vibrant appeal. This type of mulch may also contain dyes.

Rubber mulch

Wood mulch/chips, pea gravel, and sand may in often cases turn into a compacted or hard surface with frequent use, which is not necessarily what you would require. Rubber mulch does not blow away in high winds or float away during big storms. It conveniently stays in place, keeping your child safe.

Playground Rubber Mukch

Play surface materials like rubber mulch significantly reduce any type of injuries your child may sustain. Rubber mulch provides superior fall protection when compared to other materials. It has been evaluated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as an appropriate loose full material for residential and commercial playgrounds.

Rubber mulch is easily affordable and requires low maintenance costs. Six-inch deep rubber mulch can protect children from 16feet fall height. Alternatively, rubber produces an unpleasant smell and may sometimes contain some contaminants as the product is recycled from car tires. The product is all-season effective and ideal if you are on a strict budget.

Poured rubber and rubber tiles mulch

Poured rubber and rubber tiles are more convenient when compared to cheap rubber mulch. They come in different thicknesses to meet your needs and preferences. The product requires low maintenance costs, slip-resistant, and very easy to place. Poured rubber is suitable for neighbored parks and the safest material available in the market nowadays. Both the poured rubber and tiles are all seasoned options but may be more favorable if you do not have a fixed budget.

Comparison between wood mulch and rubber mulch

Ideally, wood mulch has been used by most parents as the most common form of ground cover, but this norm is slowly running out of popularity. Parents are always wondering whether wood mulch is safe for their vulnerable children.

Rubber chippings, on the other hand, may sound like a better option, but this may put a significant dent in your pocket. Rubber mulch also has some drawbacks which may want to consider before making a purchase.


Wood mulch Rubber mulch
 Relatively cheap Purchasing price may be relatively high compared to wood mulch

Splinters – the real wood, wood chips present in the mulch may cause splinters for the children playing on it.as much flakes are not the worst thing in the world. You wouldn’t want to see your child have a splinter when you could prevent it.


100% splinter-free

Mold- wood grows mod when wet; therefore, this may not be a convenient much for rainy days and neither to your precious little one. Inhaling mold spores can trigger breathing difficulties for children with asthma; this is quite alarming.


Immune from mold growth

Yearly replacement-with this type of mulch, annual replacements are vital. Wood will decompose over the year, eventually becoming gross for your children to keep playing on. As much as wood may be relatively cheap, the yearly replacement may subsequently be expensive. Handling the spread on your own during annual changes can be very exhausting.


Does not require yearly replacement as it is durable

Freezing factor- during lovely winter days, your kids may want to play outside, but the frozen mulch may not provide any protection.


Rubber is intact and not affected by varying seasonal changes, including rain!
May not provide the ultimate fall protection for your children Provides the best fall protection for your children
Wood mulch is not affected by extremely sunny days May produce an unpleasant smell during hot days
Very hard to clean; dirt and splinters might stick and get your inside rugs and carpets dirty, requiring extensive cleaning Might not retain as much dirt; can be cleaned with a leaf blower or even washed



Conclusively, finding a playground mulch that is convenient and safe for your children is a difficult task. You need to consider the safety of your kids before purchasing any kind of playground mulch, especially when you have to choose between two options. Both rubber and wood mulch have their drawbacks. You need to select one that caters to both your needs and the safety of your little ones.