Do your kids love to swing? Have they been begging you to buy a swing set or backyard play structure? Before you even begin contemplating which swing set to buy, you’ll need to evaluate your backyard and determine if you have the space and where, within that space, you should erect the swing set. We’ve put together a list of 10 tips for swing set placement that should help you to buy the right swing set for your space and to ensure years of fun and safe play.
1. Swing Set Placement – Space Required
Leave the kids out of the actual buying decision. What kid wants the “budget” model swing set when the “deluxe” model also has a cool fort? Remember, extras may increase the space required for safe play. That tall oak tree may become irresistible for climbing once the fort puts the lowest branch within reach.
Before you open the first catalog, visit the first website, or go to the home and garden center – measure your backyard. Don’t forget that swings are meant to swing. Add at least 6 feet in both swinging directions for people to walk and Daddies to push swingers; otherwise you might find yourself dragging a half-assembled swing set across the yard and begging it to not fall apart. The kids and pets will think this is quite exciting, but trust me – your back will hate it.
2. Swing Set – Growth Potential
There’s more to consider than yard size when it comes to swing set placement. There really is no such thing as one-sized fits all swing set solution. If your family and friends includes children of a wide variety of ages, you might need to add different accessories to your swing set or purchase more than one play structure. Smaller swing sets may be the best option if you have a smaller yard or young children. However, that Little Tykes playset might be perfect for toddlers but once they start getting taller and more adventurous, you might need to purchase a larger structure.
Ideally, you should find that happy compromise between budget, yard size, child size as well as the ability for the swing set to grow with your child. The best option for your family may prove to be the installation of more than one play structure.
3. Swing Set Placement – Looking for Flat & Higher Ground
Select the flattest part of your yard that doesn’t turn into a muddy bog after it rains. Make sure where any support beams go into the ground, the slide ends, and those pushing swingers will stand is particularly flat. And, if you trip over that exposed root, it’s doubtful Daddy will be able to get out of the way before the swinger comes back.
4. No More Grass & Ensuring Softer Landings
Select an area of the yard where you are willing to forgo having grass. High traffic areas around the swing set and underneath the swings will likely become bare patches. Putting down a layer of wood chips or sand makes for softer landings. It’s amazing how hard grass can be when you fall after catching your little one who suddenly thinks swings make great human rocket launchers and Daddy is a giant catcher’s mitt. Be honest, you know every kid tries this at least once. If your children are more apt to make contact with the ground, you might also want to consider adding shock-absorbing rubber matting or try some of the new mulches made from old tires.
5. Plants Grow
Trees, bushes and other plants grow. Make sure that sweet little sapling doesn’t become public enemy number one as it grows into a hazard for swingers. Be sure to select a location for your swing set that will remain free of natural hazards. However, you might also consider placing swing sets in a shady part of the yard to help ensure the sun doesn’t make heat-absorbing materials too hot for enjoyable play.
6. Swing Set Placement to Maximize Visibility
Place the swing set where it can be seen from the windows inside your kitchen and/or primary living areas. Another good option for swing set placement is within view of patios, decks and other outdoor social gathering places. Children will be more likely to obey the house rules for using the swing set if they know parents can see them.
7. Swing Set Construction – Go It Alone
Be prepared to send the kids to grandma’s or school before attempting assembly. You’re less likely to get hurt and more likely to actually place the swing set where you want it to be. They’ll also be less chance of Daddy’s little helper losing small parts and pieces in the grass. Not sure if you can build your own swing set? Check your local paper or Craig’s List. Some carpenters are now even specializing in backyard play set building and assembly.
8. Check the Weight
When assembling a swing set, make sure the swing set is capable of supporting your adult frame before you do any “testing”. Additional supports and/or ground anchors may be required to ensure the play structure can fully support the manufacturer’s listed weight maximums.
9. Swing Set Construction – Smoothing Out the Sharp Edges
That crooked screw will impale itself in someone’s body no matter how hidden you thought it was. Make sure all the screw heads are flush, and routinely check to make sure all screws and bolts remain firmly in place. Swing sets set up on uneven ground will be more apt to rack out of shape and make it harder to properly secure the connecting bolts and screws.
10. Swing Set Construction – You Can’t Catch Me
It’s amazing how many places kids will try to put their heads. Make sure any gaps in railings or the support structure are either too small for curious heads or too big to be interesting.
A Few Final Thoughts On Buying Swing Sets & Swing Set Placement
The very first thing you should do before buying a swing set is check out your local building, zoning and homeowner’s association rules and regulations. Some communities have height restrictions, require building permits or require swing sets and backyard play structures to conform to a list of aesthetic, material or visibility guidelines. Don’t be the parent who has to tell their child that their beloved swing set will have to be disassembled because you didn’t do your homework before building it.
You might also want to take a quick look at your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy; particularly if you will be allowing neighborhood children or extended family members to enjoy your new swing set.
For the most part swing set placement is all about using common sense. With a little planning, you can ensure that you and your kids can swing for the stars, have easy landings and years of fun and safe play.