Rubber Mulch Replacement Project
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Rubber Mulch Replacement Project

Rubber Mulch Replacement Project

Rubber Mulch Replacement

There were several facets to the decision to replace the rubber mulch in MPS playgrounds with engineered wood fiber. First, let’s go over what playground cover materials are. Rubber mulch is made by grinding up recycled tires. The size of the tire chip is usually quit small (less than ½ inch) and provides a flexible surface that is impact resistant. The downside of the rubber mulch is usually odors (the tires can emit odors when first placed) and the black surface can be very hot during the warm summer days. Engineered wood fiber is ground more finely than ordinary landscape mulch, is from virgin wood, and has had the saw-dust removed. It provides a safe and natural way to cover the ground while still providing an adequate amount of cushion and protection for children. The downside can be the wood degradation over time and wood fiber needs adequate underdrains to keep the wood dry. Other playground surfacing includes artificial turf and solid rubber surfaces. Both are very expensive and have high maintenance cost. Some playgrounds also use sand and pea gravel, however, those playground surfaces are not ADA accessible.

After careful consideration,the MPS Board of Education made the decision to remove all rubber mulch from MPS playgrounds and replace it with another surface material that meets requirements for accessibility and function (including fall protection and access for all students). MPS relies on a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission handbook to guide decision-making on playground cover. MPS has two available playground-cover options, wood and rubber mulch, because its playground equipment is over four feet high. So selection of engineered wood fiber was made to replace the rubber mulch in playgrounds at MPS. The wood fiber projects also include underdrain features to help with keeping the wood materials dry.

The school locations listed below will participate in the rubber mulch replacement project.

Project Update

September 24, 2018: Phase 2 design documentation have started and contracts are scheduled for Board approval no later than January 1, 2019.

August 24, 2018: Rubber mulch has been replaced at 11 playrgounds this summer.

June 20, 2018: Phase 1 locations will begin replacement work this summer.

Scope of Work

  • Multi-year program to remove rubber mulch from playgrounds and replace with wood mulch.

Project Schedule (subject to change)

Phase 1: Completed Summer 2018

Phase 2: Spring / Summer 2019 (tentative dates)


Phase 1 locations







Bryn Mawr

Nellie Stone













Phase 2 locations

Anishinabe / Sullivan




Lake Harriet Lower


Davis Center

Lake Harriet Upper





Heritage Academy

Lucy Laney



North Star


Hmong International Academy






Jenny Lind



Justice Page






Completed playgrounds

Hale, Wenonah and Sheridan Playgrounds


Replacement work at Sullivan Elementary
Replacement work at Andersen Elementary