The kids lived up to your expectations and the playground equipment in the backyard is getting a full workout. Unfortunately, so is your lawn. The hardest hit areas are usually beneath the swings and at the foot of the slide, although the turf will eventually thin out over the entire play area. Depressions may also begin to form, especially beneath the swings. You have a few options to prevent the damage while keeping up your lawn's appearance.
The simplest option is just to live with the worn grass. Keep in mind, if your swing set gets a lot of use, eventually you will need to fill in the depressions that form so they don't become a hazard.
Fill and reseed annually. This option works best for moderately used swing sets, such as at the grandparents' house. You will need to add compost or topsoil to the depressions each spring, and then overseed with the grass type of choice. It's best if the kids stay off the area for a few weeks.
Replace the grass with rubber or wood mulch. This is rather time consuming in the beginning – you will need to strip the sod and edge in the area around the swing set. A fabric weed barrier is also necessary, followed by the mulch. Mulch can be unsightly if it gets kicked onto the lawn, and wood mulch will require annual replenishment as it breaks down.
Artificial turf is the best choice if you want the look of a lawn without any of the upkeep needs required for the above methods. Once installed, the turf can last years with little to no maintenance.
One place where lawn grass fails is safety – a hard fall by a child often ends in injury. Mulch is somewhat safer, until it gets worn down and compacted.
Artificial turf on its own is not much safer than lawn grass, but there are ways to make it one of the safest choices available. The turf is installed over an underlayment. Special underlayment pads are available that provide additional cushioning for falls. These pads don't affect the longevity of the turf, but they increase your children's safety when they are climbing, swinging and playing.
There's no time-consuming yearly maintenance required with turf, unlike mulch and grass. Instead, you simply rinse the turf off with clear water when it's dusty or dirty. If something is spilled, a small amount of household detergent should remove the stain. Occasionally, turf can become damaged or torn. This usually occurs in the high traffic area. Your turf installer can simply cut out these areas and match a new piece of turf to replace it.
There are many benefits of artificial turf in a play area that go beyond the above. It's non-allergenic and it won't abrade a child's skin if they fall. It also remains green year-round, providing a bright spot of color regardless of the season. Contact a company like Turf Pro Synthetics, LLC for more information.