Playground Wood Chips – Are they safe?

Playground Wood Chips – Are they safe?

Playground wood chips are a way to cushion children if they should fall off of or near playground equipment, making the purpose of these wood chips all about safety. However, anything that will interact with children must be safe and trustworthy. When acquiring engineered wood fibre from a reputable supplier that is carefully produces the material, you can rest assured that the product will be safe.


Allergies are always a potential hazard, as with any kind of new material introduced into a child’s life.  Properly produced engineered wood fibre specifically for playgrounds are made from clean wood taken from mature forests, which is also called virgin wood. These trees have existed in an environment where there has been little to no interference from humanity, which means that there should be few to any harmful allergens involved. And since children are unlikely to come into any but brief skin contact with the wood chips, the likelihood of an allergic reaction is extremely low.


Properly produced playground wood chips are designed to be compressed in depth once placed in the playground. Typically, in order to effectively cushion the types of falls that a child would sustain from falling off of playground equipment, wood chips need to be piled to a depth of at least one foot after compression. Since compression is natural, particularly with kids running around on it, every year the the wood chips will tend to compress roughly three inches.  If the wood chips become too compressed, they stop being safe because they become too rigid and dense.  This is when a top-up is required to maintain the minimum 12″ depth.

General Shape

Wood chips that are designed to be used on playgrounds are not the same kind of wood chips or bark mulch that you would use in landscaping. Engineered wood fibre is made from the wood of the tree, and doesn’t include any bark mulch.  With no bark and because of the way the wood is cut, silvers are minimal.   If a child tumbles onto wood chips, having a reasonably smooth surface is important to keep from cutting his or her skin or poking them painfully. The cut of the material is designed to be both a cushion and to allow some rolling to occur.

Additional Characteristics

One important characteristic that the right kind of playground wood chips possess is that they are manufactured to be very fibrous. These fibers add to the spring-like qualities of the wood chips, so they will bend and flex if they need to cushion a fall instead of snapping and becoming dangerous. This is different from the high rigidity that most landscaping materials possess, which makes playground wood chips safer for this specific use.  Engineered wood fibre is to be produced to meet ASTM standards, and the supplier should have their material tested regularly.

Extra Materials

Properly manufactured playground wood chips do not feature any foreign materials. While the rules for mulch and most other kinds of wood chips are very loose, the standards for playground wood chips are far stricter. For example, there are to be no twigs, no pebbles, and no pieces of bark mixed in with playground mulch. No recycled materials such as pallets or wood waste. Those extra pieces of material can end up being overly rigid and sharp, which can be harmful to a child amid a fall.


Chemicals tend to trigger allergies, skin rashes and other types of problems, to say nothing of being harmful to the overall environment. Obviously, pesticides should never be a part of your playground wood chips because these chemicals should never come near children. A lesser-known but hazardous substance called chromated copper arsenate is a major chemical that is used in timber preservation, but treated wood should never be involved in playground wood chips. You can identify the use of this chemical preservative by the green tint it gives wood.

Effective Sourcing

Working with the right supply company is the difference between being highly satisfied with the end results or being disappointed with them. You have responsibility to ensure a safe playground for children, and safety on the playground is of the utmost importance. Work with a trustworthy company that will only provide the safest hardwood-based playground wood chips. To understand how the best wood chip supply companies operate, you can start by learning more about Denbow, one of the premier wood chip suppliers in British Columbia.


Team Canada Plays to a Bronze Medal in Women’s Softball

Team Canada Plays to a Bronze Medal in Women’s Softball.

During the week of July 15-24 Team Canada hosted and participated in the 2016 Women’s World Softball Championship tournament at Softball City in Surrey BC.

Team Canada won five straight games leading into their quarter final game against Japan.  Unfortunately, they fell 11-1 to Japan in a mercy-ruled four innings in Sunday’s semifinal before a the home crowd of 4,500.

To finish the tournament, the U.S. were crowned world champions again, after they defeated Japan 7-3 in Sunday evening’s final. It’s the sixth straight World’s that the two teams, Japan and the U.S., have battled for gold.

Canadian supporters where not disappointed as Canada’s bronze marks their highest finish since they took the third-place hardware at the 2010 worlds in Caracas, Venezuela. They finished fourth at the worlds two years ago in Haarlem, Netherlands.

Denbow would like to officially congratulate our 2016 Women’s Softball team. Great job team Canada!

In addition we would like to express our appreciation to  the City of Surrey, the official host city of the games. We supported Surrey through our Playchip top-up program as well as our mulch blowing services to get the Softball City park in tip top shape for the games.

If you enjoyed the article please feel free to share it with your family and friends.

You can read a great article summary on Team Canada’s bronze medal run by Steve Ewen of the Province News Here.



Playground Wood Chips a Better Alternative to Pea Gravel

Playground Wood Chips a Better Alternative to Pea Gravel

Are playground wood chips a better alternative to pea gravel? We think so.

Playground wood chips, as the name implies are raw wood materials that are specially designed, engineered and installed for use in playgrounds. The difference between playground wood chips and wood chips used for mulch in gardens is that playground wood chips are “engineered wood fiber” (EMF) with greater shock absorbency. This is key to provide the maximum safety for children at play within the parks.

Playground wood chips are more fibrous than garden wood chips used for mulching. The size of playground wood chips varies but to maintain compliance with the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), are less than a few inches long.

So why are playground wood chips better than pea gravel?

First, it is less of a choking hazard. Pea gravel can be an incredible choking hazard for small children under the age of three. This compared to the larger wood fibre that is more difficult to have a child actually swallow.

Second, pea gravel allows things to be easily embedded under the surface. Since pea gravel is made up of a bunch of small rocks it does not clump or pad down like wood chips. Wood chips are actual chips of wood which allows them to lay down and interlock to create a more uniform surface while providing maximum cushion. The uniform top prevents things like needles and other sharp objects from falling below the surface and endangering the kids that are at play.

wood chips create a more stable and secure surface than pea gravel

Third, pea gravel’s ability to cushion falls or  kids’ feet when they jump is only in it’s displacement and depth of product. Once the pea gravel has been displaced or the depth of product is too low children could hit the underlying bedrock and get injured. What about wood chips? See our point above. Playground wood chips give the ability to create a uniform surface, interlocking to prevent large product displacement and providing maximum absorbency.

Finally, pea gravel are small rocks. If a child does become frustrated and decides to throw a handful of little rocks it does have the potential to hurt or worse, take out a child’s eye. Yes, the same can be said for wood chips but by nature wood chips are lighter and are less likely to reach a velocity that will hurt other children. A child could throw a wood chip but it is light and less likely to result in injury.

So what is the best installation practices for this “best playground cover”, how should it be installed?

Playground Wood Chips – Installation

To reduce injury, playground woods chips are installed in beds nine to twelve inches on level ground and must be replaced as weather and wear. It is important to consider the ratio of compaction due to weather and wear and add playground wood chips to maintain safety. These depth of playground wood chip beds allow for shock absorption from most falls from playground equipment from up to ten feet. As for most types of wood chips, playground wood chips should be raked frequently to avoid moisture buildup. In unsheltered and high use areas of playgrounds, it may be necessary to add playground wood chips. For example, areas beneath swings and slides are most likely to require additional playground wood chips. New layers of wood chips can be added atop the existing layers.

What is the best way to install woodchips?

Blow it in. With the techonology of blower trucks, you can now get your material delivered and installed all at one time. It is a huge time and personelle saver and the cost to do it is marginal compared to the labour and effort of using wheel barrows. Check out more about our blower trucks.

Advantages of Playground Wood Chips

In addition to safety and shock absorption features, installing playground wood chips offers other advantages. These include:

  • Greater surface cohesiveness with maximum absorbency
  • Leaves and other debris remain on the top layer
  • Chemical free
  • Insect resistant

Playground areas are used mostly by children under the watchful eyes of their parents or guardians. Playground wood chips are moisture resistant which also provides the added feature of mold and mildew resistance. Due to layering of the beds, leaves and other debris remain on the top layer of the bed and are quickly and easily removed. Since playground woods chips are created from natural wood fibres, they are also chemical free. This assures parents and children of playground materials are environmentally safe. Also, since playground wood chips are engineered wood fibres insects like mosquitos, ticks and flies are repelled by these materials.

Choose Your Playground Wood Chip Supplier Carefully

Choose the supplier of playground wood chips based on experience and business reputation. The best suppliers emphasize safety features and also proper application as well as having the right experience of manufacturing under the government standards.