Choosing a Surface for your Climbing Frame

A question asked via live chat from Mrs Walker in Huddersfield:

“What surface do you recommend we build our playset on?”

From experience, 80% of our playsets are build straight onto grass, but we talk about other options below…

When it comes to playground safety, we recommend that you plan from the ground up. Playground surfacing creates an additional level of safety when installed and there are a number of different types of surfacing to choose from. Each surfacing type offers protection against injury, while some offer superior protection and long term value with few maintenance needs once installed.

We all know that from time to time children will accidentally fall from even the safest piece of equipment when playing. The purpose of safer surfacing is to cushion the impact of a child’s accidental fall and reduce the severity of an injury.

We recommend that impact absorbing surfaces are installed beneath all equipment with a free height of fall greater than 0.6m. As a general rule, if the existing surface is tarmac or concrete, safer surfacing should be installed beneath all play equipment regardless of the free fall height.

Before installing your climbing frame you must clear or avoid obstacles from the garden. This is specifically rocks, tree stumps, manhole covers and anything that could cause a problem to building or falling whilst playing. We have another blog to help you prepare the ground before installationPLEASE CLICK HERE.


This is the cheapest and most natural option. Grass is a great all-purpose surface and it’s readily available for most people.

Grass can however, be time consuming to mow and you will be required to trim around the climbing frame carefully.


Artificial Grass

This is a cost effective all weather surface. It’s very durable and long lasting, retaining the natural look of grass, all year round with minimal maintenance.

The ground must be prepared carefully prior to laying – there cannot be any unevenness or bumps underneath.

Grass Mats

Mats can be laid under the entire play area or just high traffics areas such as the end of the slide and under the swings. Grass will still grow through the mats however it can be mowed off the surface of the mat easily.

Mowing and trimming will still remain a challenge and damage to the wood may occur if performed incorrectly.


This is one of the most popular choices for surfacing, mainly due to its low cost. Bark lasts 6-12 months before needing to be replaced.

Bugs often live in areas with bark chippings, which attracts birds which like to dig it up and scatter it across the rest of the garden. Children will also get dirty playing in it which can be hard to clean up from soles of shoes.


Rubber Mats

Rubber mats are easy to fit and last a long time due to being prone to spills and heavy usage. These mats once used are never discarded, they are completely recyclable.

Before purchasing and using, you need to ensure you have selected a mat with suitable thickness and measure correctly.



Sand is one of the most popular and will provide opportunities for creative and constructive play.

Regular raking is required and it may also need to be topped up one or twice a year. The sand will also become solid if proper drainage isn’t in place.


Rubber Chippings

Rubber chippings are excellent products and a great alternative to wood chip, as it does not compact, rot, blow away, attract animals or freeze. This innovative recycled product lasts for years. Unlike other types of surfaces, it is unaffected by the environment avoiding the cost and trouble of annual replacement – and it adds fade resistant colour to your garden all year round! It will not absorb or retain water so freezing isn’t a problem.



Wetpour is a continuous rubber surface that gives a high quality, hard wearing, slip-resistant surface requiring little or no maintenance. This is a permanent solution with minimal maintenance required. It allows easy clearance of leaves and natural debris.

It is more expensive than other solutions but the advantages outweigh the extra cost.