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Playground site preparation is one of those topics that are rarely discussed when installing a new playground surface. All safety surfaces need some type of site preparation. For a complete list of available safety surfaces please read my "playground safety surfacing guide". Even playground mulch needs good drainage to last longer and stay dry and not freeze in winter. Rubber tiles are best installed on concrete or asphalt, but can be installed on the right compacted aggregate with appropriate bordering. Poured in place rubber, bonded rubber, and synthetic turf will need good site prep to last. While these systems can be installed on concrete and asphalt, the cost can be prohibitive. So, a compacted aggregate surface is opted for.
Whatever safety surface you opt for, do not neglect the site prep needed for that particular surface. I have seen that way too many times. Clients spend a lot of money on Poured in place rubber, but neglect to spend some of the budget on making sure the area drains well. One of the most important aspects of most site preps is the removal of existing loose surfaces. It is important to remove all organic material from the site before the aggregate is hauled in and compacted. If the area has mulch, a lot of the times, only the mulch is removed, but the decomposed materials are left there to continue on decomposing, creating problems later on. If shortcuts are made, parts of the surface will eventually cave in and you will end up with a wavy surface soon. The surface also has to have the right pitch. A 2% in the right direction will prevent water accumulation and ensure long years of use for your surface.
Good playground site prep also takes into considerations the following: