Based on this bulletpoint from the allowed topics:

  • Which tools, materials, and best practices for home improvement task.

I'm looking for advice on dealing with our playset. Specifically the area beneath it that they usually recommend being a sandbox. We don't want a sandbox. However, since we haven't done anything with it yet, the thing ended up being a mud pit with some interesting weeds growing.

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So my questions are:

  1. What materials and best practices can I use to make the area a usable "indoor" space for the kids with a flooring of some kind and maybe even a door or gate?
  2. What do I need to do to make sure the flooring is weatherproof and won't become muddy or allow weeds/grass to eventually poke through?
  3. Any advice on making sure critters, bugs, spiders, hornets, etc. don't decide to take up residence inside?
  • It's strange to start your post by arguing why it's on topic. – Tester101 Apr 20 '15 at 0:20
  • 3
    Tester, sorry first question here and wasn't sure how kindly it would be received or looked at as a shopping recommendation. – TheCleaner Apr 20 '15 at 2:32
  • I saw soft composite stepping squares at the home center last weekend. – Evil Elf Apr 21 '15 at 19:35

Under our playset we have landscaping mesh with rubber mulch over the top. The top layer of mulch is for comfort and protects the mesh. The mesh keeps things from growing up through the mesh. It's been there for 4+ years and not a single weed.

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  • How do you keep the rubber mulch from getting all over the yard? – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 15:44
  • The playset looks like the one in the picture above: there is a wooden rail going around the footprint of that portion. The rail keeps the mulch in. – longneck Apr 20 '15 at 15:49
  • It is a good idea I am thinking about using for a new playset in our yard. Just worried about mowing over rubber and quite possibly the kids thinking rubber mulch is the most fun thing in the world to throw. – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 15:56
  • As an alternative to rubber mulch, you can get those foam mats the look like jigsaw puzzle pieces. You'll have to replace them occasionally, but then you don't have to worry about the mulch being thrown. My kids did like to throw the rubber mulch, but they stopped after a while. It didn't seem to damage my lawn mower. – longneck Apr 20 '15 at 15:59
  • Do you have any brands you suggest? – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 16:03

There's really two things you need to deal with - water (mud) and weeds. The standard way to prevent weeds growing in a garden, sandbox, etc. is to lay landscaping fabric under the surface. This allows water to drain through but will not allow anything to grow through.

To control the mud, you need a cover material that drains easily. Since you don't want sand, you need to consider alternatives like mulch or shredded tires. If it wasn't used for kids playing, crushed stone would be a likely choice. There are likely a variety of other materials available depending on your location. This will probably need to be topped up every few years.

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I would add some base board around the inside edges using treated lumber and then I would run composite deck boards across the top and just create a flooring inside. You can also add a really good weed control fabric over the mud to stop weeds from coming through.

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  • If I go this route should I put sand or something over the mesh before adding the "deck" flooring? How far above the dirt should I place the floor? – TheCleaner Apr 20 '15 at 2:45
  • If you went this way, it would be a good idea to dig down about 6" and install landscape fabric, then cover it with a layer of crushed stone before you add the decking. You will want a minimum of 2-3" space between the stone and floor to allow for drainage. Also try to keep the gaps between the boards as small as possible. You don't want critters, furry or otherwise living under the floor. – Jason Hutchinson Apr 21 '15 at 17:40

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