Sumo Gardener

How to Decide What to Put Under Swing Set

All little kids need to have a swing set. It is a great way for them to exercise and have fun outside in the summer. When you purchase a swing set, you may wonder what to put under swing set besides grass. 

You could just leave grass underneath, but other choices may prevent serious injuries if your child takes a tumble. Let’s take a look at a few options; each one has pros and cons to consider!


What to Put Under Swing Sets

Rubber Mats for Swing Set

Naturally, rubber is one of the most common choices by parents. It is visually appealing, eliminating all weeds that might sprout around the swing set.

Parents have very little maintenance to worry about, plus rubber mats are strong and durable. They will last for years to come. You could even select the mats to be different colors or feature fun designs to make the space more exciting!

There are just a few negatives to rubber mats. You should avoid them if anyone in your family is allergic, but it isn’t a very common allergy.

The biggest con is the price. Rubber mats are one of the most expensive choices to put under swing sets.

Here are some of the best you can get online:

1. Creative Playthings Swing Sets Wear Pad

Creative Playthings Swing Sets Wear Pad

2. KIDWISE Green Rubber Safety Mats

KIDWISE Green Rubber Safety Mats

3. Gorilla Playsets Protective Rubber Mat

Gorilla Playsets Protective Rubber Mat

Wood Mulch

If you are on a budget, wood chips or mulch is the cheapest choice to put under your swing set. It is a natural product, and you can find it anywhere.

Most home improvement stores, even gas stations, sell bags of different color wood mulch. It helps to reduce grass and weed growth. Since it is a natural option, the wood will decompose into the ground, providing high nutrients to the lawn.

Wood chips or mulch is the cheapest choice when choosing what put under swing sets

You probably can guess the largest downside to wood mulch – splinters. It wouldn’t be a wise idea to let your kids run around barefoot in the mulch, and they could get splinters in their hands if they fall.

The other downside is that you will need to maintain the mulch. Because it decomposes, you will need to add more to prevent weed growth eventually.

Rubber Mulch

Parents who can’t afford rubber mats might be able to use rubber mulch instead. It absorbs the shock if your child falls, reducing the chance of a serious injury.

Laying the rubber mulch under swing sets is just as easy as wood chips; just spread it around in the areas you want as thick as you would like. Maintenance is simple; this type of mulch won’t decompose, so you don’t’ have to worry about adding more each year.

If you are an environmentally friendly family, rubber mulch may not be the choice for you. It is loved because it is a long term solution, but no one yet knows the environmental side effects.

We aren’t sure if it is safe for the earth, after sitting there for years. Rubber mulch is also highly flammable. 

We listed some of the best rubber mulch we found online:

1. NuPlay Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

NuPlay Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

2. Red Playground Rubber Mulch

Red Playground Rubber Mulch

3. Playsafer Rubber Mulch

Playsafer Rubber Mulch

Pea Gravel

There is another budget friendly choice other than wood mulch – pea gravel. If you have spent time at local playgrounds, you have likely encountered pea gravel under swing sets. 

It is a natural, strong and durable choice that won’t cost a fortune. Parents don’t have to worry about maintenance or adding extra gravel unless their kids throw it out of the area, which is a possibility.

Pea gravel under swing sets

Every child likes to make it rain pea gravel! A few minutes at a playground with pea gravel and you immediately know the con – they get stuck in your shoes! If your child wears flip flops, they are always doomed to have to dig them out.

It is a harder surface than a rubber mat, but it will provide some cushioning in the events of a tumble.


If you want to pretend you are at the beach all year round, sand is a fantastic and cheap choice for under the swing set. You can purchase large bags of sand at any home improvement store without breaking the bank.

Sand is an organic, natural choice. Your kids are likely to enjoy sand because it doubles as a sandbox. Go get some toys so they can dig and make sand castles. Sand creates a visually appealing, uniformed colored surface under the swing set.

What to Put Under Swing Sets

The obvious negative to sand is that cats like to use it as a litter box. Even if you don’t have a cat, neighbor strays will find it. So, be prepared to maintain the area. Your kids are also likely to bring it in and out of your home.

Sand gets stuck in every crack and crevice imaginable. If you don’t mind a bit of maintenance, sand is an excellent choice.

Wrapping Up Our Guide on What to Put Under Swing Sets

Parents have a variety of choice when considering what to put under swing set. The most common options are rubber mulch and wood mulch.

If you have extra room in your budget, you should buy the rubber mats because of their durability. No matter what you pick, they all provide better protection in the event of a fall than just simple grass.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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