What Are Ground Protection Mats?

By Greatmats Staff Created: January, 2019 - Modified: January, 2024

If you’re in the business of construction, landscaping or tree trimming, you’ve likely run into a situation where you’ve need ground protection. But what is ground protection?

Ground protection is the process of preventing damage or erosion to an existing ground surface, whether it be lawns, driveways, all-weather tracks or athletic fields. This is especially important if you use heavy machinery in finished commercial and residential areas. But it can also serve useful in agricultural areas where this heavy machinery may have trouble gaining traction or stability.

The best tool for all of these purposes is a ground protection mats. Ground protection mats are designed to keep tires and tracks from tearing up the ground surface as well as offer traction in soft or muddy areas without breaking themselves.

The old style of ground protection mat was a 4x8 sheet of plywood, but plywood has a tendancy to warp, splinter, become waterlogged and eventually break apart - thus the creation of the plastic ground protection mat.

How big is a ground protection mat?

Plastic Swamp Mats
Due to the popularity of the 4x8 plywood sheets, ground protection mats 4x8 feet in size have also become quite popular. At this size, it’s much easier to cover large areas quickly.

But not every job requires ground protection mats this large.

For that reason, ground protection mats can come in nearly any variation of sizes in 4, 6 or 8 foot lengths up to 4 feet in width - in 1 foot increments.

For extremely large jobs, such as temporary roadways, there are also mats as large as 8x14 feet in size.

What equipment can be used on ground protection mats

Heavy Equipment Mats
You name it, there’s a ground protection mat to fit the bill. One of the most common types of machinery used on ground protection mats are skid steers. Skid steer ground protection mats are nearly as popular as the machine themselves because convenience and versatility of skid loaders have made them commonplace for nearly all outdoor professions that require manual labor. However, the weight and maneuverability of a skid loader, also means that it will dig down, grab hold, and twist nearly any pliable or grippy surface and crack or break harder surfaces such as concrete that are not designed for heavy loads.

In addition to skid loaders, ground protection mats are used under everything including:
  • farm tractors
  • bucket trucks
  • semi tractors and trailers
  • dump trucks
  • water trucks
  • heavy equipment trailers
  • digger derricks
  • trenchers
  • excavators
  • craines
  • pole setters
  • and bulldozers.

Even if you don’t need to protect the ground surface for multi-ton machines, ground protection mats can come in handy for temporary sidewalks to prevent erosion from foot traffic or even create a surface that is easier to roll carts across.

Is there such a thing as a lightweight ground protection mat?

Lightweight Ground Protection Mats
While most ground protection mats are quite dense and heavy in full-sized sheets, the benefit of these plastic track mats is that they don’t absorb water and take on additional weight. For a lightweight ground protection mat, you’ll want to find mats that are more portably sized or opt for outdoor floor tiles.

Outdoor floor tiles work excellent for foot traffic. Some are even strong enough for passenger vehicles. These are great for outdoor art festivals, trade shows and temporary sidewalks.

If you have any addition questions like “What is ground protection?” give the friendly and knowledge folks at Greatmats a call. They’re always happy to help.