Backyard Playset Tips: Weed Block, Borders & Mulch

Your backyard play area can look like a picture catalog with some simple steps

Many parents and homeowners want to make their backyard playset look like an official playground, with borders, mulch and all the fixings. You can too! With so many types of playground surfacing products available, we thought this might be a good place for you to start considering options.

Fill for play area

There are generally three traditional fill options for your playground: rubber mulch, wood mulch and sand. Of course, there is choice and variation among each type (for example, you can get traditional wood mulch, wood chips or wood fiber, made from either cedar wood, pine, etc.). This chart outlines the differences between the three major types and should help you decide which type of fill would work best with your playset:

Rubber Mulch Wood Mulch Sand

Cost 2-3 times as expensive as wood mulch Slightly more expensive than sand Relatively inexpensive
Lifespan 8-12 years (usually warrantied) 1-2 years (requires frequent changing) 1-2 years (requires replenishing)
Cushioning Provides the most cushion for falls Provides the least cushion for falls Slightly more cushion than wood mulch
Drainage Allows most drainage Slightly less drainage than rubber mulch Allows least drainage
Insects/Pests Insects generally not attracted or habitate Attracts and retains multiple types May become home for certain insects/pets
Health Concerns Health risks unknown and under review (made mostly from recycled rubber) None directly from wood, though conditions may give rise to concerns None directly from sand, though conditions may give rise to concerns
Portability Children may track some into house Children may track some into house Children will probably track into house often
Color Options Comes in various colors Limited color options No color options

Borders for play area

If you’re going to surround your playset with mulch, sand or any other fill, you’ll need borders or barriers to keep the fill confined to the play area. Borders can be rubber or wooden. The differences between wood and rubber borders is practically the same as the mulch differences in the chart above. You could also get creative – what else could be used as a border for your playground?

Weed block

Laying down weed block is critical! The weed block will ensure that, over time, there won’t be any weeds, grass or vegetation sprouting up through the mulch, making your backyard playground an eyesore. There are many different grades of weed block and different areas are susceptible to different plant species, so be sure to ask your landscaper or your neighbors which kind would work best for you. The weed block should be laid AFTER the ground is prepped (see the second post in this series “Preparing Your Yard for a Playset Installation”) but BEFORE any fill material is added.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Assemblymen can help you “go all out” with playground surfacing, borders, weed block and more – we provide the products and the labor to make it easier for you! To learn more, click here.