Choosing the right playground equipment for your family can be a time consuming decision. And that is only fitting, given the number of hours of enjoyment your children – and perhaps even your grandchildren – will experience on your new set. But sometimes, deciding where your swing set will fit in your yard can be an even larger task! Putting that playset in the wrong place could literally ruin the experience of playing on an otherwise awesome swing set. Paying attention to the specific footprint and capacity of the yard where you’ll set up the playset is critical.
Things to Consider
A playset is not the kind of thing that anybody can buy simply by looking through a catalog and saying, hey, I like that one! Rather, you always consider the specific facts on the ground – yes, literally – to know how much space you have for your playset, and what kind of play element can be placed where.
Actual square footage – First and foremost, what are the dimensions of your yard? Make sure that when you calculate the space that can be dedicated to the footprint of the playset, you include a certain amount of empty space surrounding the swings, slide, etc. After all, the children need room to jump off a swing, recover themselves at the bottom of a slide, and so on. So, first measure the yard space, and then look for the playset that will fit the yard well, adding in the extra play space needed.
Stumbling blocks – Is your yard a grassy plain, or do you have boulders and/or tree roots that may get in the way of setting up your new playset? When measuring your space, don’t ignore the possibility of interference along the way. Map out your yard to include boulders, tree roots, the neighbor’s fence, that large dip in the ground, and so on, so that you can design a playset that will fit the space and not stumble on the potential obstacles. Don’t forget to include a buffer distance between the playset and the outside walls of your house – again, critical space for one who jumps off of swings, for example.
Look up! – No different, really, from the consideration of your playset’s footprint, except to note that that “footprint” also determines how high your structure can reach. Make sure your playset isn’t within jumping reach of low-hanging trees, a porch awning, etc. You don't want kids jumping to see if they can reach the tree/roof, and you certainly don't want them catching hold of a branch and risking breaking the branch…and a leg along with it!
Flat terrain - Now that you’ve taken into account all of the above factors, don’t forget to make sure the area you choose can be easily leveled using a simple yard shovel and/or rake. It is imperative that the playset be placed on a flat or leveled spot in your yard to avoid tipping. You might assume that since the playset is heavy, there’d be no way for it to tip over, but don’t be fooled. With the weight of swinging kids, a set that is not on flat ground could tip sooner and more easily than you realize.
The weather – Do you get a lot of rain? Does the sun beat down without mercy? If your yard is subject to the elements, be sure to select the playset options that will give your kids some relief from them. For example, choose a little hut or a covered fort that can be reached by ladder so your children can take refuge from inclement weather (or hot sunshine). Consider pressure-treated pine as the base material of your playset – it lasts longest and will withstand severe weather conditions!
Designing Your Playset
When choosing a playset don’t forget to ask how that playset will fit into your unique yard, with its trees and boulders and fences and other potential quirks. Give your children enough space to play on and around the swing set, ensuring that they can have as much fun as possible in the safest possible way. You’re not going to cut down the trees or knock down the neighbor’s fence and begin again, but what you CAN do is design the most efficient and elegant playset for the space you have available for it.
Choose a playset with your eyes wide open – our guides will help you consider all of the different factors that can affect the design and configuration of your structure.
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