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I wanted to test drive a patio. Wasnt sure exactly where I wanted it or how big. I took a piece of dark green indoor outdoor carpet from Home Depot and layed it on the bare ground and put my patio furniture on top. Ive changed my mind on location 3 times but thats another story. Its been laying on bare ground for 2yrs now and it still looks fine.
I think with kids Id go for the carpet. No splinters and its softer/safer to fall on.
I used plain old cheap Home depot stuff but you can get better stuff at the boat/marine places.