Are kids safe on home playgrounds?

picture of Kids helping spread Play Rite Mulch

Backyard playgrounds can be the best part of summer for kids! My kids love their Backyard Discovery playset and are on it all of the time, year round. Now that it is summer, it has been the center of attention transforming into a Pirate Ship, Princess Castle, and even Space Shuttle! They are always ‘flying to the moon’ on their Two-Person Glider!

Are kids safe on home playgrounds?

With all of the fun of a playground comes some serious safety concerns that you need to be aware of and diligent in protecting your kids on playgrounds.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission each year 200,000 kids end up in the hospital ER for playground equipment-related injuries, about 51,000 are from home playgrounds. Each year about 15 kids die from playground equipment related incidents. Almost 60% of playground injuries are caused by falls to the ground.

What can you do to keep your kids safe on home playgrounds?

I’m not here to tell you to not have a playground, in fact, the opposite. As parents, we just need to understand the risk and do what is recommended by the playset manufacturer and authorities like the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About 80% of public playground have a play surface, only 9% of home playgrounds have a protective surface, the other homes have dirt or grass. They recommend a protective surfacing under and around all playground equipment to reduce the risk of serious head injury.  For instance, with a play surface height of 7feet, about 6″ of wood chips would prevent injuries that could be expected to cause life threatening injuries. That’s a pretty simple solution to keep kids safe on home playgrounds.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched a campaign to make backyard playgrounds safer. Like I said, more deaths and accidents occur on home playgrounds for the simple reasons like playground surfacing and maintenance. Almost 3/4 of the deaths resulted from hangings from ropes, cords, homemade rope swings, and other similar items. It’s imporant to always follow the manufacturer guidelines, when used properly playsets are safer.

Here are some safety tips to keep your kids safe on home playgrounds

  • Install protective surfacing at least six feet in all directions from play equipment
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to the equipment. This can present a serious strangulation hazard to children.
  • Keep good maintenance: Check for openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs.  Spaces should be either less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches so that they don’t present an entrapment hazard.
  • Watch your kids to be sure they are safe, especially younger kids. 40% accidents are kids under 5
  • Remove bike helmets before playing on the playground. Helmets can become entrapped in playground equipment, posing a strangulation hazard.
  • Purchase play equipment that meets the latest safety standards. (Backyard Discovery is top notch for safety!)

Kids deserve a safe home playground

As a brand ambassador for Backyard Discovery, I know that their product is top of the line with safety. You can see it in the quality of the product and their safety standards. They recommend a play surface to be 6′ in all directions of the playset, so we did. It is very important to follow the safety guidelines of the playset manufacturer as they recommend these types of things for the safety of your kids based on research.

Play Rite Mulch for our kids home playground

We used a wood mulch designed for kids playgrounds called Play Rite. It’s used at schools, daycare centers, and homes all around us. It is certified safe and is suppose to last for years but I fully expect to top it off each year. Play Rite mulch can be dyed for added color on any playground. It ran $31.95 per yard.

Our Backyard Discovery Patriot playset measures about 8′ x 21′.  We covered a 20′ x 30′ area, which is 6 feet off the playset in every direction. We ordered 6 yards of mulch to allow us a recommended 6″ deep area of mulch. Some suggest higher up to 9″. If you can afford it, get more. Our mulch cost $238 delivered.

It took my husband and I about 3 hours to spread the mulch, most of it was wheeling the wheel barrel up the hill to the front yard and again back about a million times. Lucky for me, I just spread the mulch. 🙂 My kids pretended to help spread the mulch. Don’t worry, they were not really usually that sharp rake! Yes, the are barefoot and liked the softness of the mulch. Yes, Elijah has long sleeve pajamas on during a 80 degree day. lol He loves changing into pajamas when I’m not looking!

picture of Kids helping spread Play Rite Mulch
Kids pretending to help spread Play Rite Mulch

Natural and Cheap Weedblocker

It’s always a good idea to use a weedblocker of some sort before applying mulch anywhere. Luckily we started with a dirt surface so we did not have to tile up the grass. If you aren’t so lucky, plan to remove the grass or it will peek up through your mulch in no time.

A  natural and cheap weedblocker is newspaper. Before mulching you can spread newspaper about 7-9 layers thick over the soil. Then, place the mulch over top of that. The newspaper will help keep weed growth to a minimum. You can also use paper grocery bags.

picture of Newspaper natural and cheap Weedblocker
Newspaper is a Natural and Cheap Weedblocker

Not only does PlayRite Mulch keep kids safe on home playgrounds but it looks really nice too! As you can see, our grass is not seeded yet, but the playground area looks sharp! We are buying 6x6x6 lumber from Home Depot tomorrow to make a nice frame around the mulch area.

picture of Backyard Discovery Patriot with Kid Safe Mulch
Backyard Discovery Patriot with Kid Safe Mulch

This was not a paid post. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience. Thank you to Backyard Discovery who supplied the product for review and the ongoing relationship with Check out the great selection of playsets from Backyard Discovery at

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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17 thoughts on “Are kids safe on home playgrounds?

  1. Rose Habart says:

    Love that your little guy is out there in his pjs!! lol. Are they still enjoying their playset? Or did they get bored with it over time? We had one when we were little and my Mom says we never used it!

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  3. Dorothy K. says:

    I never knew that it could be so unsafe with just grass. I will get my husband and son-in-law to put mulch under my grandkids playground now. It looks like the Backyard playground is a good quality product. We need one for the house for when grandkids come over.

  4. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the nice comments. 🙂 I agree with you, you can’t skimp on kids safety. After all of the research, planning, and buying a kids playset, you have to make it safe for your kids!

  5. Rebecca says:

    My first time checking out your site. Nice and informative. Love your info about the playground surface. I hope your article compels people to take this extra step! It is an enormous chore as well as a large expense, but ABSOLUTELY worth the time and effort. When we first built our playset, I think my husband thought I was going overboard, insisting we surface the play area. After discussing it a couple of times, we both agreed it was NOT worth the risk to leave compact hard earth under our kids awaiting the first fall. He spent a small fortune and ordered enough wood chips to provide about an eight inch depth. We too, expect to have to top the mulch off from year to year, but it is definitely worth every penny. It really looks nice too. I’m so proud of what a beautiful job he did!

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  7. Pingback: Home Playground Structure :Children’s PlaySets

  8. Rose Habart says:

    The newspaper idea for blocking weeds is great! And your playset is gorgeous! I wish we had a big enough yard for one!

  9. Pingback: Backyard Playground Safety – Part 2: Choosing a Protective Playground Surface :Children’s PlaySets

  10. Julie Yensho says:

    Thanks for this article Cindy. We just had a playset put up at our house and I’m going to do the newspaper+mulch like you did. I never thought to put a weedblocker down first!

  11. Playground Design says:

    Its the first time i have read an article on – I must say that i found this article a very good read indeed. I read a lot of playground based posts as i work for a playground design company in the UK. Very good article on outdoor playground equipment.

  12. Playground Design says:

    Its the first time i have read an article on – I must say that i found this article a very good read. I read a lot of playground based posts as i work for a playground design company in the UK. Very good article on outdoor playground equipment.

  13. Playground Design says:

    Its the first time o have read an article on – I must say that i found this article a very good read. I read a lot of playground based posts as i work for a playground design company in the UK. Very good article on outdoor playground equipment.

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