Maintaining a safe and inviting play area for your little ones is essential, and one important aspect to consider is the upkeep of the woodchips. So, how often should you rake or turn those play area woodchips? We’ve got you covered with some expert advice to ensure your children have a secure and enjoyable playtime experience. From understanding the benefits of regular maintenance to the ideal frequency, let’s explore everything you need to know about taking care of those woodchips in your play area.

Factors to Consider

Type of Woodchips

When it comes to maintaining woodchips in a play area, it’s important to consider the type of woodchips used. Different types of woodchips have different levels of durability and resistance to weather conditions. Some common types of woodchips used in play areas include engineered wood fibre, softwood, and hardwood. Each type has its own pros and cons, so it’s essential to choose the right type of woodchips for your specific play area.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions play a crucial role in the maintenance of woodchips. Factors such as rain, extreme temperatures, and humidity can affect the overall condition of the woodchips. Excessive rain can cause the woodchips to become soggy and compacted, while high temperatures can lead to rapid drying and potential splintering. It’s vital to consider the weather conditions in your area and adjust your maintenance routine accordingly.

Amount of Foot Traffic

The amount of foot traffic the play area receives is another factor to consider when deciding how often to rake or turn the woodchips. Playgrounds that are heavily used by children will require more frequent maintenance compared to less trafficked areas. High foot traffic can lead to the woodchips becoming unevenly distributed or compacted, affecting the safety and cushioning properties of the play surface.

General Maintenance Guidelines

Inspecting the Woodchips

Regular inspections are essential to ensure the safety and quality of the play area woodchips. Inspect the woodchips for any signs of damage, such as sharp or splintered pieces, debris, or foreign objects. Additionally, check for any areas where the woodchips may have become excessively compacted or worn down. Identifying these issues early on can help prevent accidents and maintain the overall integrity of the play surface.

Removing Debris

Debris, such as leaves, branches, or trash, can accumulate on the surface of the woodchips over time. It’s crucial to remove any debris regularly to maintain a clean and safe play environment. The presence of debris not only affects the appearance but also increases the risk of injury and can create a breeding ground for pests.

Raking to Even Surface

Raking the woodchips is an essential maintenance task that helps to ensure an even and level surface. Over time, foot traffic and natural elements can cause the woodchips to shift and become unevenly distributed. By raking the woodchips regularly, you can redistribute them and create a more uniform play surface, reducing the risk of trips and falls.

Turning the Woodchips

Turning the woodchips is another maintenance practice that helps redistribute and aerate the woodchips. By using a rake or shovel, you can turn over the woodchips, ensuring that the top layer is mixed with the lower layers. This process helps to prevent compaction and maintains the cushioning properties of the woodchips, providing a safer environment for children to play.

Frequency of Raking

Routine Raking

Routine raking is an essential part of maintaining woodchips in a play area. Depending on the type of woodchips and the specific weather conditions, routine raking may be necessary once every one to three weeks. However, it’s important to perform regular inspections and adjust the frequency of raking accordingly. If you notice areas where the woodchips have become particularly uneven or compacted, more frequent raking may be required.

After High Foot Traffic

After periods of high foot traffic, such as during busy playtime or events, it’s crucial to rake the woodchips. Heavy use can cause the woodchips to become unevenly distributed and compacted, affecting their safety and cushioning properties. Raking the woodchips after periods of high foot traffic helps to restore their evenness and ensures a safe play surface.

Seasonal Raking

Seasonal raking is necessary to maintain the quality of the woodchips throughout the year. Depending on your location and climate, you may need to rake the woodchips more frequently during certain seasons. For example, areas with heavy rainfall may require more frequent raking to prevent compaction and drainage issues. Regular seasonal raking helps to keep the woodchips in good condition and ensures a safe play environment.

Frequency of Turning

Reasons for Turning

The process of turning the woodchips is essential for maintaining their cushioning properties and preventing compaction. Turning the woodchips helps to redistribute any uneven wear and tear and ensures that the top layer is mixed with the lower layers. This practice also helps to aerate the woodchips, preventing them from becoming overly compacted over time.

Turning Schedule

The frequency of turning the woodchips will depend on various factors, including the type of woodchips, weather conditions, and foot traffic. As a general guideline, turning the woodchips once every two to three months is recommended. However, it’s important to regularly inspect the play area and assess the condition of the woodchips. If you notice signs of compaction or unevenness, more frequent turning may be necessary.

Benefits of Regular Maintenance

Safe Play Environment

Regular maintenance of woodchips in a play area helps to create a safe environment for children to play. By inspecting, raking, and turning the woodchips, you can ensure that the surface is even, free of debris, and maintains its cushioning properties. This significantly reduces the risk of trips, falls, and other playground injuries.

Prevents Weed Growth

Regular maintenance, including raking and turning, helps to prevent weed growth in the play area. By keeping the woodchips properly distributed and aerated, you minimise the likelihood of weed seeds germinating and taking root.

Maintains Cushioning Properties

One of the key benefits of woodchips in a play area is their ability to provide cushioning and impact absorption. Regular maintenance, such as raking and turning, helps to preserve these cushioning properties. By preventing compaction and ensuring even distribution, you can maintain a soft and safe surface for children to play on.

Additional Tips for Woodchip Maintenance

Use a Leaf Blower

A leaf blower can be a useful tool for removing leaves, debris, and other lightweight materials from the surface of the woodchips. By using a leaf blower regularly, you can quickly and efficiently clear the play area and maintain a clean and safe surface for play.

Consider Mulching

Applying a layer of mulch on top of the woodchips can help improve the longevity and durability of the play surface. Mulching provides an additional layer of protection against erosion, weathering, and wear and tear. It also helps to maintain moisture levels in the soil beneath the woodchips, promoting healthy plant growth.

Check Woodchip Depth

Regularly checking the depth of the woodchips is important to ensure their effectiveness and safety. The ideal depth of woodchips in a play area is typically around 10 to 30 centimetres. If you notice areas where the woodchips have become thin or compacted, adding fresh woodchips can help restore the desired depth and cushioning.

Common Woodchip Problems


Compaction is a common issue that can occur with woodchips in a play area. Heavy foot traffic, rain, and other factors can cause the woodchips to become compacted over time. Compacted woodchips lose their cushioning properties and can become less effective in absorbing impacts. Regular raking and turning can help prevent compaction and maintain the desired level of cushioning.

Pest Infestation

Woodchips can attract pests such as insects, rodents, and moulds. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address any pest infestations early on. Removing debris, turning the woodchips, and maintaining proper drainage can help deter pests and create a less inviting environment for them.

Mould and Fungal Growth

Moisture and lack of airflow can contribute to the growth of mould and fungi in woodchips. Regular inspections and maintenance, including raking and turning, can help address these issues. By promoting proper airflow and moisture control, you can minimise the growth of mould and fungal organisms, creating a healthier play environment.


Maintaining woodchips in a play area is crucial for ensuring the safety, durability, and overall quality of the surface. By considering factors such as the type of woodchips, weather conditions, and foot traffic, you can establish a maintenance routine that meets your play area’s specific needs. Regular inspections, raking, and turning help to create a safe and enjoyable play environment, while also preventing weed growth and maintaining the cushioning properties of the woodchips. Remember to consider additional tips such as using a leaf blower, considering mulching, and checking woodchip depth to further enhance the longevity and effectiveness of your play area woodchips. With regular maintenance and care, your woodchip play area will continue to provide a safe and fun space for children to explore and play for years to come.