The Best Ground Cover Options for Playgrounds

By Greatmats Staff Created: January, 2019 - Modified: October, 2021

So you’re building a playground and you want to make sure that your kids are going to be safe. So to ensure that safety?

There are many different materials you can choose from - and at several different price points.
The days of just throwing some equipment over a blacktop or concrete parking lot are over. Even pea gravel and wood chips are becoming a thing of the past, due to the fact that they need to be replenished, can hide hazards and shift around, providing inconsistent protection.

  1. Sterling Playground Tile 3.25 Inch Blue/Gray/Brown
  2. Playground Turf Play Time with 2 Inch Pad per SF
  3. StayLock Tile Perforated Black

What Is The Best Ground Cover For A Playground?

StayLock Perforated playground tilesIf you’re goal is to provide the best possible surface, Thick Rubber Playground Tiles are the way to go. Granted this will is likely going to be the priciest of playground ground surface options but the benefits you get in return are well worth it, if you can afford it.

Greatmats offers Rubber Playground Tiles up to 5 inches thick wall critical fall height ratings of up to 10 feet. This type of ground cover for a playground not only offers the essential benefit of superior fall protection also gives you additional design freedom, in comparison to loose playground ground cover. With multiple color options, you can create a color and pattern that adds to the theme of your playground. These tiles even make use of recycled material, helping to keep discarded rubber out of landfills while giving you a ground cover that can last a lifetime.

If the price point of those tiles are too much, you can always choose a similar style rubber playground tile system this is a bit thinner. Just keep in mind that as the thickness decreases, so does the fall height rating - in most cases.

What's The Best Artificial Turf Ground Cover For A Playground?

StayLock Perforated playground tilesAnother top option to consider is artificial turf with fall protection padding as ground cover for a playground. This will give you a beautiful natural appearance with additional safety benefits over authentic grass. Greatmats offers playground turf with certified fall height ratings of up to 9 feet. With padding playground turf ground cover - with padding - run up to 3.25 inches thick.

This surface won’t be quite a grippy as a rubber tile ground cover, which may actually reduce skin burns should a child trip while running. The down side, however, is that turf warranties do not extend for as long of a period of time as rubber playground surfaces.

Keep in mind that even swing sets and slides should have a ground cover underneath them. If you don’t want to install a full ground cover, consider rubber swing mats or slide mats. These generally run between 2 and 3 feet wide and 4 to five feet long with a thickness of up to 2.25 inches. They are great for prevent erosion in these high wear areas.

What's The Best DIY Ground Cover For A Playground?

StayLock Tile Perforated BlackIf your playground doesn’t have very tall equipment and you plan to install the ground cover yourself, perforated PVC outdoor tiles may be the best option. PVC tile ground cover for a playground is extremely flexible and will contour to your existing ground, so if your existing ground isn’t completely level, neither will your finished surface but it does allow you the option of a DIY installation over an unlevel surface - and still get excellent drainage. With the perforated surface, however, you’ll want to make sure to use a weed barrier landscape fabric to keep weeds from growing up through your playground ground cover. The type of ground cover generally fall rated for less than 2 feet, so it’s really more of a protection against the impact from from slips and trips, than falls from playground equipment. This is the only acceptable playground ground cover material that will be less than 1 inch thick and still offer a fall height rating.