Above- and in-ground trampolines are great options, but your choice may differ, depending on cost, safety, yard space, aesthetics and other factors.
Unlike above-ground trampolines, in-ground trampolines are installed below ground.
In comparison, they both require maintenance, although in-ground trampolines often require more. Additionally, both require that you plan where the equipment will go. This is especially true for in-ground trampolines, which are difficult to relocate once installed. Like above-ground trampolines, you can add an enclosure to an in-ground trampoline for added safety.
Bounce and Performance
The appeal of an above-ground trampoline is the height the jumper can achieve. Above-ground trampolines tend to provide more bounce than their in-ground counterpart.
With in-ground trampolines, the height of your bounce depends on airflow. Limited airflow can reduce bounciness, but you can increase your bounce by increasing the space between the trampoline mat and ground (2-4 inches). Proper airflow creates the bounce you want in your trampoline.
Appearances and Aesthetics
If you’re worried about aesthetics, an above-ground trampoline is more difficult to incorporate into your yard, especially if your equipment is large, bulky or worn out.
On the other hand, it’s easier to make an in-ground trampoline part of your landscape, blending the jumping surface with your backyard, as you would an in-ground pool.
Installation, Time, and Effort
Both above- and in-ground trampolines take time to install. Installation can be grueling, depending on the trampoline brand and assembly instructions.
Installing an in-ground trampoline on your own is taxing, but a do-it-yourself kit can help. Still, it takes more time and effort to dig a hole, build a retaining wall for the perimeter of the trampoline, or just fill it with dirt to support the trampoline. To make matters worse, you may also need to notify your local city office before you start digging.
Installing an in-ground trampoline and adding landscape around it can increase costs dramatically. After it’s all said and done, installation can cost you double or triple what you’ll spend installing an above-ground trampoline. It’s not the equipment itself that propels the cost of setup, but the cost of labor. If you need help setting up an in-ground trampoline, you may also need to factor in the cost of a contractor, landscaper, or trampoline installer.
Some in-ground trampolines come with retaining wall blocks, which help with drainage and keep grass/dirt from surrounding the metal poles and creating an environment for rust and corrosion. This added feature can drive up costs if your model comes with these blocks.
Smaller children feel safer with in-ground trampolines. They have more freedom entering/exiting the trampoline without worrying about ladders since everything is level. However, both above- and in-ground trampolines have safety risks. Jumpers can still fall off the trampoline and hit the ground, which can lead to serious injuries. And with in-ground trampolines, there’s the risk of hurting yourself on debris surrounding the trampoline. However, the chance of a height-related injury is greatly reduced with an in-ground trampoline in comparison to an above-ground trampoline.
Both above- and in-ground trampolines have a gap for the springs, and in-ground trampolines need a gap for proper ventilation. So, there’s the danger of landing/falling on exposed springs or tripping over gaps.
When it comes to high winds, in-ground trampolines stay grounded. On the other hand, high winds can flip or blow your above-ground trampoline away, causing property damage.
Additional Safety Information
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against trampolines, they find in-ground trampolines safer than above-ground models. In addition, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that the trampoline jumping surface be placed at ground level to reduce the number of injuries and injury severity.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that can affect your decision between getting an above- or in-ground trampoline. These differences can tip the scale as to which one works best for your family, yard and wallet. Regardless, both options ensure a fun backyard experience for the whole family.