The trampoline boxes are about to arrive, and it’s time to prepare the ground for a trampoline. This is actually more important than it might first appear.
If you get this wrong, you can end up with a tilting trampoline, which will bounce the kids right into the safety net. Every time. Or in some cases, doing some serious damage to otherwise lovely lawn.
Perhaps you haven’t actually purchased the trampoline yet, and are just doing research. If so, click here to discover more about when is the best time to buy a trampoline.
If you are still trying to figure out where to put your new trampoline, check out this article first: Where To Put A Trampoline In The Yard? 7 Rules for Perfect Trampoline Placement With FAQs.
This article is for regular trampolines that sit on the ground. If you are looking for directions for an in-ground trampoline, try this one: The inground trampoline – how to choose and DIY installation.
If you know where you want it to go, let’s get started and prepare the ground well.
Steps To Prepare The Ground For A Trampoline
1. Make The Ground Level
The ground needs to be pretty close to level for a trampoline. A good rule of thumb is to put a large chopping board or a plank down on the yard where you are thinking. If a tennis ball rolls on the board, there’s too much of a slope.
You may have to build a retaining wall if it is sloped more than about 1” down for every 20” across. This is a 5% slope. If you think about a typical 12ft trampoline, you will have another 3ft on each side. This is a total of 18ft across. Even a 5% slope means that you would have a small 11” high retaining wall. It’s not much, but you’d want to get it right.
2. Make Sure The Ground Is Solid Enough All The Way Across
The ground has to be solid enough to support the weight of a trampoline and then some.
A trampoline might be 200lbs, give or take 100lbs. You’ll then have one or two or three kids jumping on it. That 500lbs or so it turn into 800lbs before blinking as they jump down. This will then push down through the support leg posts in a rhythmic thudding kind of style. It’s almost like a giant hammering post. You want solid ground.
It should also be consistently solid across all of the support posts. You want to avoid swampy or soggy ground, where the bouncing will push some or all of the trampoline into the ground. One option is to put gravel and then sand down to give the ground some substance.
As a note, trampolines shouldn’t go on concrete. They rely on the shock absorption capabilities of the ground to absorb any of the bounce that isn’t taken up by the springs.
3. Clear The Vegetation Around And Above The Space For The Trampoline
You’ll want to clear a good area around the trampoline before setting it up. It’s good practice to have at least 3ft on each side of the trampoline as clearance. This is because kids will eventually run into the safety net to see what happens. It has some give in it, and so if they run into it at full speed, they’ll end up somewhere beyond the edge of the trampoline just momentarily.
Cut back all bushes and branches. Try to make all of the branches cut back at the base or trunk, so that there are no protruding bits.
This will also help with setting up the trampoline, so you can get enough space to lever yourself and that spring tool around the trampoline mat as you’re pulling everything tight.
You’ll also want to cut back any overhanging branches. Whilst your kids are little, they probably won’t go too high. By the time they are teenagers, it’s completely reasonable for them to jump 16ft or higher. And then you have to add the 3ft height of the mat. Given that, it’s good practice to ensure that there’s clearance of 21-24ft above the trampoline.
4. Decide How You Want To Treat Under The Trampoline
Trampolines are not kind to grass. The mat is generally a thick plastic material, and not a great deal of light gets through. If the trampoline stays in one spot, then the grass will mostly die off. There will be spindly bits that make a valiant effort, and they’re hard to reach with the mower under the trampoline.
Here are some of the options for under the trampoline:
Grass. This can work well if you have the ability, willingness and memory to move it on a weekly basis. This rotation around the yard will allow the grass to recover broadly evenly. If it suits you to do this, this is a great option because you don’t have to worry about preparation!
Mulch or bark. This is what we did. We knew we wanted the trampoline to stay in the same place, and wouldn’t be moving it at all. You take the turf out in the shape of your trampoline, and then fill above the soil with mulch. We ended up putting a low-profile border around the mulch to keep it neat and tidy. The mulch keeps the organic growth to a minimum, and gives shape to the garden.
Artificial turf. It’s a bigger investment to put artificial turf down. It’s more important that you get the ground really level first. Also, take some time to consider if this is the permanent spot for the trampoline. If you’re not sure, you might want to get the artificial turf over the entire yard, or at least the kids’ play precinct. However, if you know this is the trampoline’s forever home, then just patching the area under the trampoline will keep it looking slick.
Rubber matting. As a trampoline substrate, rubber matting is far more sophisticated than it used to be, coming in a variety of colors and densities. You can have it as sheeting, or as small pieces that are stuck together during the manufacturing process, and it gets laid out in the shape of your choosing. If your kids are likely to tumble off the ladder, or if you go against all of the safety advice and don’t get a safety net (just get the safety net), then this might help protect their fall.
5. Assemble & jump
Depending on the brand, you might want to give yourself and a helper a while to assemble. Check out “How long does it take to put a trampoline together?”
You don’t need to break in the trampoline at all. Once it’s good and tight, you (and the kids!) are good to go.
In order to successfully prepare the ground for a trampoline, you’ll need to lay out the space. Make sure it’s nice and level and cut the garden back both around and above the trampoline area. It’s now time to assemble the trampoline.
And then of course, it’s show time! Let the kids go forth and jump!