Play Grade Bark

Play grade bark, also referred to as playground bark or woodchip, is a natural alternative for impact-absorbing play surfacing, offering a rustic appearance and a cost-effective surfacing method for play or leisure areas.

When to use play grade bark

Play grade bark or woodchip is an excellent choice when:

  • A large play area requires safety surfacing on a limited budget
  • The play area is likely to be used all year round in varying weather conditions, as bark provides natural drainage and is less prone to becoming slippery in wet weather
  • You would like the playground to have a rustic, natural appearance, or blend in with surrounding greenery
  • You’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option


Playground bark and woodchip can be laid directly on top of old play surfacing or soil. When laid onto soil, we will first cover the area with an anti-weed membrane. 

Bark/woodchip is laid on-site by our fully qualified, enhanced DBS-checked installation team. All installations of bark or woodchip as a safety surface are compliant with BSEN1177 standards. 

Whilst it is not essential, we recommend a low-height retainer around the woodchipped zone to minimise spillover onto adjoining areas and surfaces – this will make your playground easier to maintain.


As far as safety surfacing options go, a medium level of maintenance is required for play grade bark. It is a loose-fill material, therefore the area will need to be raked occasionally to maintain a safe and consistent depth. We recommend that the area is checked frequently for foreign objects to ensure ongoing safety.

The area will also need topping up with fresh material every so often, due to the natural degradation of untreated timber and that some of the wood chippings will inevitably disperse over time. 

To ensure the ongoing safety of your playground, all equipment and surfacing requires an annual inspection, carried out by an RPII Certified Annual Inspector, as well as regular operational inspections. Learn more about our inspection and maintenance services.


Bark or wood chip as that is classified as ‘play grade’, has treated and rigorously tested for any contaminants. ‘Normal’ bark and woodchip products do not undergo such rigorous testing. Only play grade bark can be used as a play safety surface. All of Playscape’s installations of bark or woodchip as a safety surface are compliant with BSEN1177 industry standards.

To be considered a safe surface for play equipment or other structures, the bark must be laid to a depth exceeding 300mm, according to BSEN1177 standards. For Critical Fall Heights (CFH) less than 600mm, a thinner layer of 100mm is acceptable. We can advise you on the correct depth for your specific playground project as part of our design or maintenance service consultation.

The amount of play grade bark needed for your playground will depend on the square footage of the play area, as well as whether the minimum depth required is 100mm or 300mm, as detailed above. We can calculate this for you as part of our design or maintenance service consultation.

If this is a consideration for your playground, for example if it is in a public park or a domestic back garden, then it’s best to have a chat with an expert playground design team such as Playscape.

Contact us about your playground project today

Request a Playground Quote

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.