Is Pea Gravel Safe for Playgrounds

Is pea gravel safe for playgrounds?

Pea gravel is a great addition to any home, school or business and is perfect for adding traction in areas that are typically slippery like walkways, sidewalks, playgrounds and tennis court paths. It provides a great alternative for people who want to avoid the high costs associated with installing carpet or other complex flooring types.

What is pea gravel?

Pea gravel is a pebble made of natural pebbles and can be found in a variety of colors. Pea gravel is created when pebbles are pulverized, which means that they're broken down into smaller pieces until they resemble pea size. The pebbles that are then collected all come from several different types of rock such as quartz, granite and limestone.

Pebbles come in different sizes and shapes, the price depends on how big the pebble is and where you buy it.

What pea gravel is not

Pea gravel should not be confused with pebbles found on beaches or in rivers. Pea gravel is also very different from pebbles that are cemented together to form a hard surface, such as an asphalt road.

The Benefits of Pea Gravel

There are many reasons why pea gravel makes a safer playground surface than rubber mulch. One of the biggest dangers for playgrounds is the lack of safe fall heights. Each year there are thousands of children who visit emergency rooms due to falls from structures and equipment at playgrounds. Unfortunately these accidents often prove fatal, making them a serious public health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has even urged cities nationwide to lower the recommended height requirements well below what is currently being enforced.

Pea gravel playgrounds have a much lower fall height requirement than rubber mulch, which means pea gravel surfaces are better suited for this purpose. In fact pea gravel can reportedly reduce the required fall height to as low as 10 inches, while the recommended fall height with rubber mulch remains at 18 inches. This makes pea gravel a safer alternative for playground equipment and surfaces that have a high traffic of children during playtime.

Benefits of Mulch

Other Pea Gravel Benefits

(1) Easy to Navigate: pea gravel provides an even surface for both children and adults. Pea gravel is especially useful when it comes to providing a uniform surface for people with disabilities who may have difficulty walking on uneven or hard surfaces.

(2) Grass is optional: most pea gravel firms typically offer weed resistant pea gravel which will help keep the weed growth at bay however it is still recommended to have some grass around the pea gravel area.

(3) Safe: pea gravel has a much lower fall height requirement than rubber mulch, which means pea gravel surfaces are better suited for this purpose. In fact pea gravel can reportedly reduce the required fall height to as low as 10 inches, while the recommended fall height with rubber mulch remains at 18 inches

(4) Low maintenance: pea gravel does not need to be raked like leaves and does not grow moss like other surfaces; only an occasional sweeping will keep it looking great. 

(5) Durable: pea gravel is a very tough surface that can last for years with little upkeep.

The Drawbacks of Pea Gravel

Pea gravel has a few disadvantages when used on playgrounds.

Level Surface: For one, pea gravel does not provide a level surface, but rather the pebbles are unevenly distributed. This may create an issue for people with disabilities who can't properly walk on such surfaces.

Erosion Control: One of the most serious concerns about pea gravel is its porosity, which typically absorbs water quickly after it rains or snows. If you use pea gravel in play areas that often experience precipitation then some precautions should be made to prevent erosion and other issues that come with it. One way to help with this is to install a rain garden near the pea gravel surface. A rain garden is a depressed area in your landscape that is designed to catch and absorb rainfall. The water then slowly seeps into the ground, instead of running off into the street or gutters. This helps keep our waterways clean while also preventing erosion around the pea gravel surface.

Pests: If pea gravel is not properly cared for, it becomes a breeding ground for pests. It’s best to add, rake, and level your pea gravel regularly to keep it fresh and clean, free from pests.

Slippery: Pea gravel can become slippery when wet which makes it unsafe for some people to use. pebbles need to be replaced when they wash away.

Rubber Mulch

Other Playground surfacing options

Pea gravel is just one material that can be used on playgrounds. There are many different types of materials for playgrounds, so you should think about the best one for your situation. You will have to research them before making a decision .

Some popular playground surfaces include:

Mulch or shredded rubber

Rubber mulch or shredded rubber provide a softer surface that can cushion falls, but they require more replacement and can become an eyesore over time.


Sand is a popular choice in warm climates because it stays cool during the summer months. However, sand is not good for playgrounds that are frequently used because it can become muddy and difficult to maintain, as well as attract animals and bugs.

Artificial turf

Artificial turf has become popular in both warm and cold climates because it provides a safe surface that does not require much upkeep. This is especially important if you have limited resources or money for your playground project.

Each surface has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is important to choose the one that best suits your needs. For example, pea gravel is a tough surface that does not need much upkeep, but it can be dangerous if someone falls on it from greater heights.


So, is pea gravel safe for playgrounds? The answer is yes, pea gravel can be a safe and durable surface for playgrounds when installed and maintained properly.

The pea gravel is a type of material that can be used in playgrounds. It has advantages and disadvantages.

Learn more

Always consult with a professional before installing pea gravel on any playground surface. At WillyGoat, we've got representatives who can walk you through your options. Though we do not deliver or handle pea gravel, we would be happy to help with any of your playground surface needs. Thanks for reading!

Playground surfaces