Play area base? Bark/rubber/sand?

hi there, been tasked with sorting out a proper play area for the kids, just wandering what base substances folk have used successfully?
Bark & rubber seem v expensive & thinking along the lines of sand maybe?
Experience/advice welcome!!
Cheers dh
Wife’s just insisted on bark - one of those situations where she obviously knows best and any suggestion to sway her from it is cut down.

So far under the swing and at the bottom of the slide is bare where the kids have shifted it all out the way. The local cat population isn’t interested at the moment, but I can see it turning into the village cat latrine. I guess the same would be a true for sand.

I would have just preferred grass.
Been here in Jan.

Decided against it all though getting some reinforced plastic mesh to help the grass out.

Sand will end up all over the lawn, as will most materials with my offspring. Chip \ bark looks great for a while but then breaks down and needs raking all the time.

I bought a massive climbing frame, the swings and slides are they most dangerous but the kids seem to bounce well and no claret spotted yet!

kiwi pom

canterbury NZ
Local playground has a rubber matting on the ground, not that good really and gets bloody hot in summer.
The playground for the 5/6/7 year olds at the local primary school has a deep pea gravel base. Surprisingly good, doesn't get dirty, keeps itself level, cats don't like it and it moves enough to take shocks out of jumps and falls. It needs to be nice and deep though, with reasonable sized round stones.
I would not use rubber as disposing of it when they outgrow it will be a PITA.

Bark you can scoop up and put on borders etc. Find a friendly tree surgeon.....
The tree boys have chip which just sits heavy then grows weed, you either want graded screened chip or bark which is a harder and more expensive to get hold off
Trouble with grass is the faff cutting round everything & moving toys etc & moving the trampoline to cut under it each time (which after blowing away a few times- upto 200yards once!!) is now weighted down with 4 railway sleepers !! Just thinking one no maintenance area will reduce time?
Quite fancy the pea gravel idea?
Cheers dh

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