How To Keep Weeds Out Of A Playground

Home landscaping can definitely be a fun challenge, especially when the whole family is involved. Besides saving up thousands of dollars, setting up a playground on your own is a rewarding experience. However, maintenance can become more complicated than installing it; without the proper guidance, that is!

One of the most common problems for playgrounds is the occurrence of random weeds.

They not only look plain ugly and give your playground an uncared-for look, but they are also home to insects and parasites that can be harmful to children. Although a moderate exposure to dirt and pathogens can, in fact, be healthy for kids, insects like bees or fleas are certainly not!

Therefore, you are correct in keeping the play area clean, without wild weeds growing in it. If you want a green note in the playground, weeds are definitely not the way to go. (In fact, certain plants can have the exact opposite effects and actually turn away insects, so give that a moment of thought.)

The problem is, dealing with weed infestation can quickly become a draining task. That being said, the name of the game is pre-emption.

You can set up the ground for success (pun intended), and your hopes are, you will not need to practice any other information from this article.

Let’s delve right into it!

Tips to remove weeds out of playground

Setting up your playground

Whether you do it yourself or you hire a contractor to do it, setting up your playground following the streamlined process we suggest will go a long way in preventing weeds from creeping in the area. Let’s have a look at the steps.

  • Inspect the area and remove any existing weed roots.

That should be straightforward, but still, it needs to be said. Before any other action is taken, the existing soil should be inspected, and any weed infestation should be dealt with.

Of course, you might be one of the lucky ones, and there are no weeds in your land.

However, seeds can remain dormant deep in the soil for weeks, which brings us to the next point.

  • Mix, aerate and let the soil dry up for a couple of weeks if possible.

All things considered, home landscaping is not a time-sensitive project. If you are setting up an outdoor playground for your business, make sure you plan ahead of time and set aside a few weeks for this, if possible. 

(It can save you a lot of time and money later on- imagine having to close up the business to conduct chemical spraying of the playground, for example)

You should mix and let the soil dry up for a few weeks if possible. Aeration of the ground will allow oxygen to reach any dormant seeds and activate them.

By waiting them out to see if they will sprout or not, you can kill off any potential infestations while it is easy to do so.

Spraying herbicide is still an option since the playground is not in use then, so take advantage of that- if you see any weeds showing up in the soil.

  • Apply pre-emergent

Pre-emption, pre-emption, pre-emption. The golden standard of the fight against weeds. Apply some pre-emergent to the soil, now that you can.

After we move on from this stage, it will not be possible to do so. You can buy environmentally friendly substances in your local garden supplies store.

  • Set up a weed mat- and do it twice.

Weeds need light, oxygen, and water to grow and soil to plant roots. A weed mat is a fabric that you lay on top of the earth and prevents everything from happening.

It serves a double purpose- on the one side, any leftover seeds in the soil underneath will not be getting any light, therefore, will tend to remain dormant. 

On the other side, any seeds brought into your playground area by wind or birds will stay on top of the mat.

This way, the seeds will not reach the soil and will not able to make roots. Keep that point in mind because we will circle back to it later. 

  • Mulch is good, but don’t overdo it.

In the same way as when setting up a garden, you can, and you should mulch over the soil and the weed mat in the playground.

A good quality mulch will have a lot of benefits, not only on the weed protection front. 

Mulching will prevent the weeds from growing similarly to the mat and protect the mat underneath from tears. Unlike the fabric, you will have to replace the mulch every now and then.

That is because the older the mulch, the more it will start to dissipate, and along with rainwater, create the perfect medium for weeds.

A mulch layer also makes the ground non-slippery, even during rainy days, which is great for children playing outside.

Furthermore, it will provide some much-needed cushioning from falls. We all know that kids will fall during playtime no matter what, so it is better to be prepared for it!

On that note, you should be aware that mulch comes in two types, rubber, and wood mulch.

While rubber mulch is much better for cushioning and friction, it is usually made from old recycled tires passed through a shredder.

That type of mulch can carry heavy metals like lead, which will pass to your soil eventually. If you decide to go for rubber mulch, make sure you buy the certified products.

Finally, keep in mind that a few inches of mulch will suffice. You don’t want to have too thick of a layer since the bottom will tend to rot more quickly, and it will also be harder to replace or dig out to inspect the soil or the weed mat if you need to.

Hopefully, by following the above blueprint, your anti-weed strategy will work. If you are fortunate enough that it does, we envy you, and you can stop reading here. The rest is not for you!

Dealing with weed infestation on the spot

Sometimes, wild weeds will creep in no matter what. You might have done everything correctly, and you still see the occasional weed popping up here and there.

Or, you may have bought the property with the playground already in it, and you have no idea how the ground is set up.

 No matter what the case might be, there are some eco-friendly tricks you can try before moving on to shutting the area off for a couple of days to spray chemicals.

First off, assuming you are on regular weed patrol, the problem should be minor, and you should pull out the weeds you see.

You can use these gloves to pull weeds. 

Do it carefully because you do not want to ruin the weed mat underneath.

After pulling out the weeds you see, you can try pouring boiling water and vinegar around the affected areas. That should be enough to kill off the remaining parts of the plants that were too small to notice and remove.

If you do not plan on growing anything else in that soil ever, you can even spray heavily concentrated saltwater.

This will be the most radical solution but will ruin the soil for good.

These are your first steps. Monitor the situation from there onwards to see if the problem persists. If it does, it is time to check whether there is old rotten mulch or holes in the weed mat in the areas where the infestation occurs.  

Depending on your findings, you can either choose to treat the problem locally and patch up the affected areas or proceed with larger-scale repairs.

Now it is also time to consider that you can perhaps close off the area for a day or two and spray some mild herbicide. If you need to do larger-scale works like replacing the weed mat, we advise you to opt for spraying the soil too. 

Pro Tips:

  • Make sure that the mulch you purchase is from a certified supplier, and the seller assures you that there are no seeds in it. The same holds for any soil or plants that you buy for the playground. The last thing you want is to go through all the trouble just to find out that the soil or the mulch was compromised in the first place.
  • Take extra care if the area you are planning to have the playground is close to wild weeds areas or bird nests. It will be a lot easier for seeds to be carried to your soil by the wind if this is the case. You will need to inspect your area closer and more often if this is the case and address weeds growing up the soonest!


Usually, weed infestation is something we don’t think of until it becomes a problem! However, it makes a lot more sense to address the issue in its roots (again, pun intended!) and act preemptively. 

It will save you a lot of energy, and it is bound to pay off down the road. We hope this article will be a helpful resource for you if you decide to go down this road! In any case, don’t forget to have fun in the process!

Also read

How To Cut Grass Around a Swing Set

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