You want to set up a playhouse on artificial grass for Mission: Backyard Adventure! You definitely don’t want to have it sink into the ground, tip over or become unstable. So let’s make sure you get the right information from the start. So let’s figure out whether it’s possible, and if it is, what you need to have in place.
The information below is for playhouses, but is useful for swing sets and playsets as well.
A playhouse can go on artificial grass, as long as it has a levelled solid sub-base or concrete under the feet. You’ll then anchor the playhouse so it doesn’t tip with play or heavy winds. You will also want to put a waterproof wood preserver on the playhouse ‘feet’ on the artificial grass so that they don’t rot over time.
Let’s examine this in more detail below.
Can You Put A Playhouse On Artificial Grass?
Artificial grass is a good ground cover for high traffic areas, such as around a playhouse.
In regular grass, as the kids go in and out of the playhouse, over time they will wear a track in the grass. When it rains, this will turn to mud. You’ll end up with mud in the playhouse, and in your actual house!
Artificial grass is also more resistant to insects compared to regular grass. You should have fewer bugs in the playhouse as they won’t be coming up from the soil or living in the grass. You’ll still need to do some insect control, but in my experience, it is much lower.
And of course, you don’t need to mow or trim a natural lawn around awkward playhouse posts or walls.
What Is A Suitable Sub-base For A Playhouse On Artificial Grass?
Playhouses of all sizes should go on levelled ground so that they don’t tip over. You want to ensure that they are supported under any legs or base frame so that the playhouse doesn’t sink into the ground.
You can put artificial grass over a slab, or around the concrete posts, and the playhouse can go on top of this artificial grass. For high impact areas, such as a climbing wall or swing, you can put a “shock pad” under the artificial grass layer.
For a ground level playhouse, you can make a concrete slab or other suitable base under all or part of the playhouse. The concrete slab is slightly more expensive, but will stand the test of time. For this approach, you would define the size of the playhouse, prepare the soil and set the frame, and pour some concrete. Once it has set, you would assemble the playhouse on the slab, and bring the artificial grass up to the sides of the playhouse.
Other suitable bases include 4” of gravel or roadbase, and then covered with packed coarse sand. You would then lay good quality artificial grass over this, and put the playhouse on top. This will help with drainage, as well as help even out any lumps and valleys in the soil.
You can put 4” woodchips down underneath the playhouse where the kids play. I wouldn’t put it under supporting posts or under the frame, it’s just not stable enough.
For an elevated playhouse, you are likely to have legs or pillars holding up the main body. These posts should be supported in concrete. It is so very important that elevated playhouses don’t tip, and aren’t able to be carried away by a fierce wind.
What Is A Good Shockpad For Under Artificial Grass For A Playhouse?
Shockpads are made of foam such as polyethelene or polyolefin, and are designed to give ‘springiness’ under artificial grass. It’s great when you have shockpads under artificial grass under the climbing wall or swing of a playhouse.
A good shockpad is generally recommended by the installer or artificial grass supplier. You are looking for something that is permeable, that is, lets water drain through, and has the appropriate thickness. A thickness of somewhere between 2” and 3” is what you want.
A reputable shockpad will also have a warranty of 10-15 years.
What Quality Of Artificial Grass Do I Need For A Playhouse?
Artificial grass comes in a wide range of quality. You want something that will stand a good amount of foot traffic, and also not stretch or warp causing trip hazards.
Even an entry-level artificial grass for a playhouse needs to be lead-free and latex-free. It should have good drainage, through little holes in the backing, allowing rain to flow away. This stops puddles from forming. It will probably be around 70 oz per square yard.
The blades should be around 1.2-1.5” long to give a full look. Longer blades will likely fall flat over time, as well as needing more maintenance such as brushing.
Also, look for a weather-resistant artificial grass that has been UV-tested for fading. This will stop if from fading in the places it is in full sun compared to the area in the shade.
How To Anchor A Playhouse On Artificial Grass
Playhouses, especially elevated ones, should be anchored. Even though we know that kids shouldn’t climb on the roof of a playhouse… If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want to check out what the roof is made of, if it’s possible to reach it, and how much fun it is jump off it with your favorite sheets as a parachute.
And of course, there is the wind. If the entrance to your elevated playhouse catches the wind, it could act as a wind sock, and see the whole thing tipped over even if it is heavy. It’s Murphy’s Law that the one in a hundred wind gale will happen within a couple of years of your playhouse going up.
How To Stop A Playhouse From Rotting On Artificial Grass?
The wood on most playhouses is a pressure treated wood or cedar, both of which are rot-resistant. (Cedar will warp somewhat over time).
If you are very concerned about the playhouse rotting, just apply a coat of sealant (pick up from the hardware store) before setting up for the first time.
How To Install Artificial Grass For A Playhouse (Non-Concrete Base)
- Level the ground about 4” below your surface line and remove any rocks or pebbles. Use a brickies line and a builder’s level to ensure you are truly level across the site.
- Lay down 4” of gravel topped with sand and compact and smooth.
- Put down a shockpad layer across the area under the kids will be walking / playing. You don’t need to put shockpad down underneath the framing walls or floor base.
- Decide if you will do it yourself or hire an installer. If you decide to hire someone, check out their reviews first.
- If you are going to do-it-yourself, be sure to install the grass so that the nails are only at the perimeter of the grass, not in the center or anywhere where the kids would play. The nails have a tendency to work their way out. Any joins should use glue and tape.
- Put the playhouse in position.
- Anchor the playhouse down. Make a small X shape cut with a utility knife just beside each of the legs or anchor points. Insert the anchors as deep as possible into the sub-base and soil. Ensure the eyebolts are directly beside the playhouse legs.
- Screw the eyebolts against the playhouse frame. Smooth the artificial grass out around the anchors.
- Try to move the playhouse manually. If it rocks, you may need longer anchor bolts. If you have tried longer anchor bolts and it still rocks, you may need to use concrete to secure the playhouse.
I hope this has given you a good deal of information about putting a playhouse on artificial grass. Go forth, and give your kids a great background for adventures and imaginations!