How to Prep the Ground for a Play Set

Installing a play set in the yard is one of the best investments parents can make for their children. A source of fun for the little ones, a play set encourages children to get off the couch and out into the sunlight. Properly installing the play set ensures the safety of all children using the equipment. Take care to read the manufacturer's instructions when installing a play set in your yard, and take some simple precautions to ensure the safety of your children.

Measure the area where the play set will be installed. Make sure there's enough space for the play set, accounting for the arc of the swing. If play sets are installed too close to structural elements, it could become unusable.

Mark off the area where the ground will be prepared for the play set using string. String is easy to pick up and move if dimensions change. Make final decisions about the play set area before proceeding further.

Make sure the ground is completely level where the play set will be installed. Unlevel ground can be raked level, but sometimes requires filler sand for levelling.

Use 2 x 4 boards and nails, or fasteners, and construct a simple frame for the play set area. The number of boards and nails will depend upon the size of the frame being built. Mitre the corners at a 90 degree angle to fit comfortably together. Make sure there are no sharp corners or protruding nails.

Lay the simple wooden frame where the play set will be installed, and remove the string outline. If the frame is built where it will be installed, skip to Step six. Roll the black plastic sheet out inside the frame. This keeps the play area from being infested by weeds.

Install the play set. Play sets are installed before the ground preparation is complete to ensure that it sits on level ground, rather than on top of filler material that could make it unstable.

Fill the wooden frame with a safety filler material, such as shredded rubber mulch, pea stones, bark mulch or play sand. This filler material protects children from hurting themselves should they fall.

Rake the filler material out evenly so it surrounds the play set and fills the square frame to the edges. Proper ground preparation for a play set is dependent upon the surface material being used, so always make sure the filler material is not depleting and refill it when necessary.


Always take the time to properly prepare the ground for a play set before installing. Plan the play set area in the centre of the yard, away from structures such as fences and buildings. Clean away all rocks and sticks before laying down plastic under the play set. Check the ground preparation every six months to make sure it's still level.


Never install a play set over severely uneven ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • String
  • 2 x 4 boards
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Black plastic
  • Loose fill material
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About the Author

Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.