Last Modified: April 3, 2024

Play Bark Bulk Bag

Guide To Buying For DIY Bark Play Areas

Heaps of bark mulch in different colours

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


When you are building a safe space for children to run, jump, fall and tumble in, you will usually require a soft surface for safety. Usually, you will purchase play area bark bulk bags in order to save money, due to the volumes you will require. We cover the use of bark for play areas in a separate article, but in this article, we discuss the issues around getting play grade bark by the bulk bag.

And just a quick note about our new tool, called the 'Pebble Picker', in the sidebar or menu - it allows you to effortlessly browse and choose from every decorative aggregate based on their colour and type. Check it out!

Close up of play bark chippings

Key Takeaways

  • Choices: Play bark is available in different varieties and choosing the best type is important.
  • Alternatives: There are many alternatives, some which may be more suitable to your needs.
  • Sizes: Bulk bags are an efficient way to deliver and cover large areas, but no two bags are necessarily the same.
Play chips in an outdoor park

What is Play Bark?

Play grade bark chippings are high-quality products, finely graded for use in children's play areas. It's distinct from regular garden bark used for borders and decorative ground cover, as it's specifically designed to provide a safe play surface for children. To be certified as a play grade bark, it must be tested to meet the requirements of BS EN 1176 standards for child safety.

Children playing on a swing image by margitwinkler from

Benefits of Play Grade Bark

Using bark for play areas is a safe and natural way to minimise the potential for injuries during the rough-and-tumble of kids play. It can also help to reduce the spread of mud on children's feet and clothing. It also has many other benefits that we cover next.

Safety First

Play grade bark offers a soft and certified surface for safety that is designed to minimise splinters and choking hazards while absorbing the impact of falls, ensuring a safe play area suitable for both kids and pets.

Play swing above chipped wood safety surface

Weed Prevention

Weeds are a nuisance in all parts of the garden. Laying play bark also acts as a mulch, preventing unwanted weed development and growth.

Moisture Retention

Play grade bark is great at helping moisture retention in the soil and play surface, which can help to soften any accidental falls.

Pine nuggets close up

Choosing the Right Play Bark for Your Project

Searching for cheap play area bark can be problematic, particularly if you are looking for a product that offers safety. In these cases, you must ensure that they are certified play grade bark chippings, and meet the BS EN 1176 standards.

Here are a few helpful things to consider when making an informed choice:

  1. 1
    Quality: Always opt for certified products that ensure it's screened for harmful materials.
  2. 2
    Depth: Depending on the height of the equipment, the depth of bark required can vary. Review the recommended depths here.
  3. 3
    Aesthetics: Play barks, derived from different trees like pine, can vary by size and colour. Consider one that complements your garden's aesthetic.
  4. 4
    Allergies: Always consider any allergies that your children might have shown when considering the type of tree materials are derived from.
Person examining fresh chipped wood

Need to work out how much playbark your play area or project needs? Use our free play bark calculator.

Common Alternatives to Play Bark

While play bark is a great product for play areas, there are many alternatives. Here are three that we cover thoroughly in separate articles.

Bulk bag of woodchip

Check Reviews

Whenever you are researching a product to purchase, it's always best to carefully go through the reviews. However, they can be problematic in this day and age, with fake reviews on the rise, generated either by AI or unscrupulous suppliers. Even reviews on Amazon need to be taken with a grain of salt, so seeking certification is the best idea in this case.

Asking a friend, or trusted landscaper, who might have tried and tested a great quality product can also be very useful.

Outdoor play area with play bark chip safety surface. Jpg

Purchasing: Bulk Bags vs. Tonne Bags

Bulk bags are often confused with tonne bags, partly due to the way suppliers use the terms interchangeably. A play bark bulk bag typically contains a volume of bark, usually 1 cubic metre, whereas a tonne bag can refer to its weight.

Measuring a bulk bag for chippings

Here's a helpful guide:

  • Bag Size: Check on the difference between bag sizes. A play bark bulk bag might differ from a tonne bag in quantity.
  • Delivery Options: Whether you want the driver to personally deliver to your kerbside or you're looking for contact-free delivery, check all the available options.
  • Costing: Prices vary based on bag size, delivery details, and additional taxes like VAT.

Often there is no difference between the contents of a play bark chippings bulk bag or a play bark ton bag, as suppliers can call things by slightly different names. It's worthwhile checking before having it delivered, and your choice of delivery depends on the quantity you need. This is where an online play bark calculator comes into its own.

Installing landscaping bark


When planning for the creation of a kids play surface with bark, it is always important to estimate accurately and know how to order correctly. There can be confusion about the volumes of different bulk bag sizes and hopefully we have enlightened you so that you can make an informed choice about your future purchase.

Bark chips play area with swings


How much does 1 tonne of bark cover?

A play bark tonne bag coverage depends on the bark's type and your desired depth. On average, 1 tonne can cover 20-30 square meters at a depth of 50mm. Try our bark calculator to get an accurate estimation.

How much is a bulk bag of bark?

If you search for play bark chippings near me, or play bark bulk bag near me, you will likely find a wide selection of competitors all ready to deliver and varying prices. Once you have some prices, you are free to plug them into our calculator and find yourself the best deal.

What area does 1000 litres of bark cover?

This may be considered a play bark ton bag, although it will likely weigh between 400-500kgs. Coverage always depends on the depth applied. On average, 1000 litres can cover approx 15-20 square meters at a depth of 5cm.

What is an alternative to play bark?

Rubber mulch, derived from recycled rubber, is a durable alternative to play bark known for its impact-absorbing properties. Engineered wood fiber (EWF) offers a natural appearance, soft surface, and drainage, while wood play chip provides a slightly more hard-wearing, natural surface.

What bark is best for play area?

Play grade bark is the best choice for play areas due to its safety features and quality testing.

Where can I buy small bags of play bark in the UK?

You can buy small bags of play bark from your local hardware supplier. If you are searching for play bark uk: B&Q, Wickes and Homebase usually supply in small bags.

Can I use any bark for a play area?

It's recommended to use play grade bark which is specifically designed and tested for children's safety.

Is wood chip or bark better for play area?

Play bark is often preferred as it offers better cushioning against falls compared to wood chips, although it's not always as durable.

How much does 500L of bark cover?

500L can typically cover approx 7-10 square meters at a depth of 50mm.

There are many other varieties of wood chippings available for your project. Check out them out!

About the author 

Ben Parrot is a landscape gardener and amateur geologist. He is the founder of Outdoor Aggregates, with the mission to create the first encyclopaedia for decorative aggregates. From natural stone through to decorative bark, these aggregates are critical to garden and landscape design, universally.

The problem: There isn't any place where all the different types of decorative landscaping materials and construction aggregates can be found, nor are the specifications of each type readily available. So, enriched by his extensive experience, and inspired by the timeless elegance and raw beauty of stone and rock, etched by nature's artistry over millennia, Outdoor Aggregates was born.