Pea Gravel Safety Surface

climbing frame on pea gravel

Pea gravel consists of small, smoothed and rounded stones of various colours. It's the greatest benefit is that it's almost un-compact-able, that's not saying you don't have to break up a hardpan every now then, but once this is done you are back to its original state.

Pea gravel, in theory, is very smooth so when an objects hits it gravel moves and dissipates the energy from the fall into movement of gravel. For this reason, if you choose pea gravel, it is essential to make sure it remains smooth and able to move freely.

With any broken gravel with sharp edges needs to be removed from the area. This is not only dangerous for its sharp edges, but it can start to interlock and this creates a surface that won't move and dissipate energy created in a fall.


Choking Concerns for children under three years pea gravel would be wholly unacceptable as this age group is far more likely to go hand to mouth with pea gravel being around 3/8" is comparable to the trachea of a young child. In fact, health and safety experts say any item less than 1.75 inches is a choking hazard. Small enough for the mouth, but not down. In short don't use pea gravel if you have young children.

Pea gravel can be hard to walk on when loose (which is needed for safety surfaces) and wheelchairs or other mobility aides will also struggle. Like sands and bark, it can hide insects, animal excrement or dangerous sharp objects.

Formation of a hard pan under the surface will need breaking up, unfortunately, it's hard to spot that this has formed so it will need checking periodically. Pea gravel is perfectly smooth and doesn't compact, so if some lands on a hard smooth surface it becomes a slip hazard.


Natural alternative to rubber and has superior drainage compared with wood bark. The pea gravel is easily obtainable and easily fitted to as it's a simple case of putting it down gravel then spreading evenly across the play area. With quick drainage, you can get kids out playing as soon as it stops raining.

You will also be splinter free if you fall and won't tread into houses un-like sand or compounded mulch that sticks to shoes. The added bonus of not losing so much from the play area and not having to replace it often like sand of mulch.

Pea gravel should not be attractive cats or other animals, it also won't support microbial organisms making it safer for children overall pea gravel is a better option's for overall sanitation. The gravel will also block out any light so weeds can't grow through.

Considerations for Pea Gravel for Playgrounds

  • Age Appropriateness – The age range of children who will play on the equipment should be considered. For home or daycare playgrounds that were designed for very young toddlers, the swallowing of small stones could be a hazard. For playgrounds designed for intermediate and older children, pea gravel is a suitable choice.
  • Limitations – Because it is a loose fill material, pea gravel limits the mobility of those individuals with disabilities. If you would like use pea gravel, you may need to create solid paths.
  • Maintenance – Because loose gravel will move, it should be checked on a regular basis to ensure minimum depth requirement of 12 inches is being complied with at all times. A quick and easy job using a shovel will level out the playgrounds surface.

Academic Word On Pea Gravel

Pea gravel had the worst impact attenuation performance; compared with bark, sand and rubber mulch Mack, Jeffrey and Sacks 2000

This study compares the absorption rates by dropping the same objects from the same heights, this a completely independent and does pretty much point out that people

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