If you’re looking to build a playground border for your kids in the back yard, knowing which materials are most suitable and how to construct the playground edging yourself, you can save you lots of time and money.
With so many options available on the market, it’s possible to build a wooden playground in your yard that could rival that of the local community park. But in order to do this, you must source the best materials available for your wooden playground.
I know many people who have tried to construct playground borders with lots of different materials – metal piping, rubber, even bushes, and small plants, with varying degrees of success.
This post will introduce the best materials for your playground edging and show you how to build a playground border yourself.
What is the best material to use for a playground border?
When deciding what materials to use for any type of DIY job in the garden, we should consider two key points: durability and cost. Many people who have tried to construct playground borders for their kids have stumbled at this hurdle and haven’t found materials that are both durable and cost-effective.
I believe that landscape timbers are the perfect solution and are the ideal material for playground edging. Landscape timbers are widely used by gardeners, often separating areas of lawns for particular uses, such as for raised beds for planting flowers or vegetables.
Aesthetically, they look great and blend into the landscape of your yard. Landscape timbers are also very practical, as they can be laid using essential tools, and are incredibly durable and weather resistant.
Another great thing about landscape timbers is that they are widely available. If you visit any garden center or Home Depot store, they will have timbers in stock at a great price. They really are the perfect solution for edging around your wooden playground.
Having said that, when you go to purchase your timbers for your playground border, you shouldn’t just buy the cheapest that you encounter. It’s vital that you have completed your measurements and you know what you’re looking for.
I would recommend that you buy timbers that are a minimum of six inches in diameter, as they will prove to be sturdy when forming your playground edging. Moreover, you should budget for enough timbers to ensure that you can stack one on top of the other so that your playground border is two timbers high. This will help with durability.
The importance of maintaining the space around your wooden playground
If you invest a lot of time, money, and energy into building the perfect wooden playground for your kids, but neglect the space around it, then you could find the aesthetics of your yard totally ruined.
That’s why it’s vital to create playground edging. The landscaped wooden playground area delineates where the playground starts and ends, separating the play area from the rest of your garden.
This provides a vital safety boundary for your kids, as it shows them where they can and can’t go. But it also has the added benefit of allowing you to keep essential sections of your yard free for other garden activities, such as planting and growing vegetables, or even a space for BBQs and socializing with friends.
The importance of planning your play area
It sounds obvious, but when landscaping your garden and factoring in a wooden playground for the kids, you need to have a plan in mind. Much depends on the size of the playground you decide to install and the size of your yard, but you should plan for the playground border to be in the shape of a square or a rectangle around the wooden playground.
At this stage, it’s vital to leave approximately two to three times the area of the playset for your kids to run around and enjoy themselves. Constructing the playground edging too close to the play frame will restrict their movement and will encourage them to trample on the garden in the surrounding areas!
When choosing the area in your yard where you would like to install the wooden playground, you should select a flat site that is clear of tall trees with large roots. Large roots under the playground can cause you problems in the long term, so it’s best to avoid these at the planning stage.
When you’ve decided which wooden playground you would like to install and have settled upon the area in your yard where you will put it, you’re ready to begin preparing the site for construction.
Source the materials for your playground border
In addition to the wooden timbers, you will need more items to complete your playground border. If you can, try and buy pressure-treated landscape timbers, as these will be more durable and will last longer, saving you costs in the long run, even though they are slightly more expensive to buy.
Moreover, I recommend that you buy enough timber to build your playground edging in at least two courses, one on top of the other. This is to ensure that your playground border is strong enough to withstand the test of time.
You can also buy corner brackets. This will make it easier to connect the timbers for the edging, but equally, if you feel confident, you can cut the timbers. In order to anchor the first course of timbers into the trench, you will need a rebar. And to drive in the rebar, you should use a sledgehammer.
You will also need a hammer, a level, a drill, a tape measure, stakes, and string/rope in addition to these specific materials. The great thing about this DIY playground border is that all of the materials can be picked up from your local store, or you may well even have a lot of the materials in tools in your yard already.
Prepare the playground area
When you have allocated the appropriate space for your wooden playground, the first thing you will need to do is to map out the area with string or rope. You should then mark the corners with stakes.
Ideally, you should select an area for your playground that doesn’t have grass. If it is going on your lawn, it’s a good idea to remove this first and replace it with bark or something similar that can be raked and levelled.
When you’re happy with your area, you should prepare the ground by digging a shallow trench, roughly half the depth of the first layer of wooden timber, to ensure that it will be firmly anchored in the ground when it’s complete. This will ensure that your playground edging is sturdy.
At this stage of proceedings, you also need to think about the type of soil you have in your garden. If you’re worried about erosion or slippage, you can add some sand to the trenches, helping secure the playground edging.
At this stage, you should also consider what type of material you wish to include inside the playground border. Avoid grass and mud, as this will churn up quickly and will result in kids with filthy knees! Also, for obvious reasons, you don’t want to use concrete as it’s too dangerous.
Typically, mulch of some kind is spread inside the area, which should be filled to the height of the playground edging. Shredded bark is the cheapest option, but many of the bark pieces have sharp edges, and it can be uncomfortable if one of your kids falls on top of it. If you’re going with bark, try and order the larger bark nuggets as they are more rounded and therefore less sharp.
If you want to use gravel, it’s equally crucial that you order the right type. Buying rounded-pea gravel instead of jagged-edged gravel will cushion a fall and result in fewer cuts and scrapes!
However, perhaps the best choice for your home playground’s surface is rubber mulch made from ground tyres and other recycled rubber materials. The rubber doesn’t erode in the same way as bark or other organic mulch, and you won’t have to replace it as often. When constructing your playground border, bear in mind which type of mulch you wish to use and plan the height of your edging accordingly.
Prepare a Sturdy Frame for your Playground Border
Once you have your trenches dug, you are ready to place your wooden timbers. It doesn’t matter which side you lay first but ensure that your timbers are level and pressed tightly together and anchored in the soil or sand you have already added.
Although not essential, you can drive a rebar through the first course of timber in order to firmly anchor it to the soil. I would undoubtedly advise this as it gives you extra peace of mind and a good foundation upon which to lay the second course and provide you with an overall sturdy playground border.
When you are ready to attach the second timber to the first course, you will need to drive landscaping timber screws down through the second course to secure it. To solidify the corners, you can use simple corner braces, which will allow you to connect the timbers and keep them sturdy.
Before you fix the wooden timbers together, you can also apply some wood glue between them, which will help to secure the timbers and add another layer of support. This is particularly helpful if you’re concerned that your soil is soft and the area around the timbers is likely to erode over time.
In terms of spacing, it’s a good idea to drill screws in approximately four feet intervals, but this is dependent on the overall size of your playground edging. Whatever the area, ensure that you space the holes in a consistent way to ensure the structure is sturdy and well balanced.
Bringing Everything Together
Once you have planned out and measured the desired area and laid the timbers, it’s time to get to work and fix them together. It’s a good idea to lay the exterior of your playground surface and work your way inside.
After the timbers have been laid and fixed together, you should leave them to set for 24 hours. It’s a good idea to fill the trenches with sand or appropriate mulch before getting to work on filling in the surface.
When you have your mulch delivered, dump it in the center of the surface and begin to rake it evenly across the entire surface of the playground. During this process, be careful to go through the mulch and remove any rocks, sharp edges, or other debris that has been turned over during the construction process.
At this stage, you should have a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing base for your playground, enclosed by a wooden timber border.
As well as providing an excellent border for your playground, you can utilize wooden timbers for landscaping your garden in different ways. Landscape timbers make great borders for raised flower beds in particular and really bring other elements of your garden to life.
Landscape timbers can also be used for steps in your garden, as well as a border for your patio or outdoor dining and BBQ area. Whatever their use, timbers look great in the garden, are cost-effective and durable.
As you can see, landscape timbers are perfect for creating an aesthetically pleasing, sturdy, and cost-effective playground border for your wooden playground. If you want to buy a home playset for your kids, make sure you take the time to create a suitable play area as it will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run and is essential for the safety and comfort of your kids when they are playing.