Wood Chips are Not a Good Surface for Playgrounds (Here’s Why)

As a company that installs poured-in-place playground surfacing and rubber tile playground and safety surfacing, of course we think wood chips should be off of every playground. However, it’s not just about the business for us, we’re parents of small children too! One of the primary reasons we choose to be in this business is we believe it’s important to have safe playground surfaces for our children to play on. We also believe rubber playground surfaces make everyone’s lives just a little easier.

So, allow us to get on our soapbox for just a moment here to say…

No More Wood Chips on Playgrounds!

Replace Woodchips on Playgrounds with Poured Rubber Flooring (Safety Playground Surfaces)
Using wood chips, mulch, or bark dust as playground bedding is a messy and splinter-filled option.

Okay, now that we have that out of our system, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t use playground wood chips or mulch:

  1. They are a mess! Every playground we visit that has not made the switch to rubber playground surfacing, has wood chips everywhere. No matter what kind of edging or fencing is used to “contain” the wood chips, they will make their way on to the surrounding grass, parking lots, basketball or tennis courts, ball fields, and everywhere else. Cleaning this up day after day becomes really annoying.
  2. You have to keep replacing them. Wood chips constantly need to be replenished. Every year, wood chips decompose and get removed from the site. Replacing woodchip surfacing on a playground is at minimum an annual expense (in some climates they have to be replenished or replaced more than once a year). This is the case with cedar wood chips, pine wood chips, barkdust, etc. A poured-in-place playground surface is a one-time install and your problem is solved. No annual replacement or replenishment. It’s virtually maintenance-free.
  3. They’re not safe. Wood chips on a playground are a safety hazard. Woodchips are constantly moved or kicked around the playground. As a result, some areas have plenty of chips, but in other areas, there is almost no fall protection. This happens especially under swings and other high traffic areas where children play and can trip or fall. And then there’s the painful splinters that ruin everyone’s day… ouch!
  4. Children with disabilities cannot access your playground. Wheelchairs cannot be maneuvered on a woodchip surface and the loose material creates a built-in tripping hazard for everyone. Wheelchair-accessible playgrounds enable everyone to have fun.
  5. They look ugly. Wood chips are not aesthetically pleasing. Who wants an ugly brown playground? A rubber playground surface can provide you with a virtually limitless variety of different designs, including bright and vibrant colors, logos, and even games right in the surface itself!

BONUS REASON: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that CCA-treated wood mulch is an “inappropriate surfacing” type for playgrounds.

Seriously… enough said! The good news is, we can help by . Let’s work together to replace all those wood chips on playgrounds everywhere by trading it for a better alternative…

Alternative to Playground Wood Chips

Better Ground Cover for Playgrounds

Poured-in-place rubber playground surfacing is durable, safe (no splinters!), and doesn’t have to be replaced every year.

We install rubber playground flooring across the entire USA. Serving the USA Contact us for more information or get a free quote.

Playground Ground Cover

Here’s an example of a project we did to replace wood chips with poured rubber playground flooring.

adventureTURF rubber playground flooring experts install playground and safety surfaces all across the country. Contact us for more information or get a free quote for your next project.

Wood Mulch FAQs

The difference is negligible. The terms are typically used interchangeably and the only real difference is that wood chips are typically larger chunks than wood mulch. But everything we’ve mentioned here applies to both mulch and wood chips.

For the initial installation cost, you can generally expect to pay around $3 per square foot for wood chips (installed). That being said, that’s just the initial cost. The long-term cost is greater because of their regular upkeep and longevity. Here’s more info about the cost.