Playgrounds Then and Now

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Posted by Dina N

When I was a kid, parks and playgrounds were covered with asphalt, dirt, grass, and rocks. I was a very active child, riding my bike fast, climbing trees every day, and just being a kid. My knees and elbows were skinned all the time. Scrapes, scratches, and a broken bone now and then were normal part of childhood.

Neither I nor any of my little friends had helmets, knee pads, or elbow pads. No one talked to us about bike safety. Our parents just told us to watch out for cars and go home when it gets dark.

Fast forward a couple of decades later. My kids go to the park to ride their bikes in full protective gear. Everyone wears a helmet. I have a first aid kit in the car. Playground safety matters a lot to me. I sit on a bench and don’t let my kids out of my sight. Now playgrounds are no longer covered with asphalt. Some areas have special rubber covering on the ground that feels perfect to walk on – and ideal for running and playing. A couple of weeks ago, we watched in fascination the park workers getting ready to apply mulch. The area around the swings was cordoned off for a new mulch application that looked like rubber flooring.

Rubber on playgrounds was new to me, so I looked it up. It turns out rubber mulch is an innovation not just in playground safety and flooring but also in landscaping and even horse arena footing. Rubber Mulch is a company producing recycled flooring from used tires, helping protect the environment and keep old tires out of landfills. Rubber mulch is granules made entirely from recycled scrap tires. These granules make an effective safety surfacing that’s perfect for outdoor play areas. It cushions falls and helps protect children from playground injuries.

Rubber mulch playground surfacing is available several colors. It’s clean and odor-free, and it does not rot or decompose. It comes with a lifetime warranty and it’s non-toxic, non-abrasive, and non-staining. This surfacing can be used in playground areas in parks and schools but also in your own backyard.  

Speaking of backyards, did you know that you could mulch trees, shrubs, and flowers without getting your hands dirty? That’s a novel idea to me since I always thought gardening and landscaping come with dirt under the fingernails (unless you remember to wear gloves which I rarely do). Rubber mulch creates insulation for your soil, allowing water and nutrients in, while keeping weeds out. You can forget about mulching for years with rubber mulch. Another advantage is that it does not attract termites and most other insects. Plus, it won't blow away in wind or rain. While I have not tried it yet, I would certainly love to test it in my yard.

Rubber mulch has other interesting uses, such as surfacing athletic fields, horse arenas, and military training areas. Rubber Mulch also offers rubber curbs and wear mats. The curbs are smooth and seamless, keeping debris out. The mats provide extra cushioning for high-impact areas such as swings and slides.

With such progress in playground safety, it’s no wonder my kids rarely skin their knees and elbows. And I am grateful for that.

Disclosure / Disclaimer: This post was brought to you by our friendly advertisers. Information and photos courtesy of The opinions and experiences are all mine.


  1. Pricilla said...

    My old playground in the city was a very sad playground indeed

  2. holdenj said...

    Remember how hot those metal slides would get? I like that kind of mulch, it feels so spongy!

  3. Kristie said...

    That mulch sounds great! Maybe I can get my husband to use it in our yard. I hate dirt and being dirty! *LOL* kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

  4. Char W said...

    What an interesting concept to use the rubber mulch in the garden! I had a relatively sheltered childhood so going to the playground by myself (or just with friends) wasn't an option, despite it being less than half a block away AND right next to the fire station. But yes, we as parents are so much more protective of our children as a whole. I think it is neat that there are so many uses for rubber mulch :)

  5. Maryann D. said...

    I do find it amazing now also how nice and much safer the playgrounds are. When I was a kid we did not have playgrounds that looked anything like the ones now. Also I will look into the Rubber Mulch. I did not know about that at all, but it sounds great. I would like to try it this year.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

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