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Author Archives: Amy Honigsberg

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Amyr is the digital content manager for Eastern Jungle Gym and Best in Backyards of Connecticut and New York. When she's not blogging, posting on social media or creating videos, she is spending time reading, and enjoying family, friends and her dog.

  • What to Look for in Swing Set Accessories

    When it comes to your kids, you want only the best -- the safest, strongest, highest quality, and so on. Here at Eastern Jungle Gym, we share the same philosophy, which is why we make sure everything from our playsets to our hardware to our swing set accessories are top notch.

    With spring's arrival (and summer's not too far off), we wanted to share a few tips on what to look for in a swing set accessory, to ensure that the products you're buying are designed with your child's well-being in mind. Here's what we suggest:

    -- UV-protection: Swing set accessories that are equipped with built-in protection against ultraviolet rays won't heat up as quickly in the summer sun as accessories that lack UV protection. This feature also adds to the life of your playset, as the color of the items (tent top canopies, swings, slides and more) won't fade as quickly.

    -- Ladders with grab handles: If you're thinking about building a wooden step ladder or adding one to your backyard playground, be sure to include a set of safety grab handles. These aren't as necessary on ladders that have rungs, as the kids can use the rungs to hold onto. But with step ladders, they're a must! We suggest grab handles that have pebbles or grips to ensure the kids get a secure hold.

    -- Coated swing chains: To avoid pinched fingers, your swing chains should be of the straight-coil variety, with a soft coating (like plastisol) covering part of the chain to protect their little hands.  A coating will provide a soft surface for them to grip. We recommend the rings on your gym ring trapeze bar combo be coated in a soft plastic, too, for the same reasons.

    Bucket swing for baby This full bucket swing features plastisol coating, one of the things you should look for when buying swing set accessories.

    -- Avoid magnified binoculars or telescopes: Toy binoculars and telescopes are best for the swing set, as the children won't damage their eyes by looking up at the sun through a magnified view.

    --  Inspect different swings for safety: If you're purchasing a baby swing, make sure it's a full bucket with a high back, so your little one is properly supported. For the half bucket swings, which many people use for their toddlers, not only should there be a high back, but also a strong chain that secures in front of the child. This chain should always be latched when your youngster is swinging. And with a tire swing, it's best to use an actual tire rather than a hard, plastic one.

    -- Playground rope: The last thing you want is a rope that irritates your child's hand, or splinters and frays. For this reason we recommend playground rope (which is used on everything from gang plank ramps to Jacob's Ladders) be made of nylon, rather than polyester.

    -- Climbing holds for the rock wall: Whether you're constructing your own rock climbing wall for the kids, or buying a swing set that features one, it's a good idea to consider the number of rock holds. If your children are young, you may want to consider adding some additional holds, so they are gathered somewhat close together. Once your kids are a bit older and their skill level allows, you can remove a few to make the activity more challenging.

    We hope you've found this blog post informative. Please feel free to send any questions about swing set accessories (or anything else playset-related!) our way!

  • Contest Winner Thrilled with Playset

    As luck would have it, the winner of Eastern Jungle Gym's 2015 Springtime Swing Set Giveaway was just starting to look for a backyard playset for her kids. In fact, Molly Conetta and her husband Jason were planning to start shopping in the coming days -- until they got the good news, of course!

    "Thank you so very much," Molly wrote to Eastern Jungle Gym. "We are so thrilled and can't wait to play on our new swing set!!! My son and daughter will love this for years to come. You totally made our weekend, especially since we were going to be out shopping for a swing set for our family and now we are lucky to have this one."

    Molly, a first grade teacher, and Jason, a high school vice principal, live in Massachusetts with their two young children: Jack, who will be 3 in May, and Gabriella, who will be 1 in May. The family had their choice of a Classic Kids Swing Set, valued at $999, or a Classic Wooden Tire Swing, valued at $799. The Classic Kids Swing features a horse glider for two, a full bucket swing and a sling swing. The Classic Tire Swing comes with a three-chain tire swing designed for up to three children.

    Eastern Jungle Gym was happy to work with the Conettas, who had their hearts set on a playset with a platform play deck and a slide. So the family received a credit toward the purchase of another wooden swing set.

    "I think this is the best option for our family," Molly said.

    Molly and Jason were looking for a swing set the kids could grow into, so they are planning to order the Dreamscape 1. It features a clubhouse, a 10-foot wave slide, a rock climbing wall, a Jacob's Ladder and more.

    "There's nothing we love more than helping a family get the swing set of their dreams," said Rolf Zimmermann, the company's Vice President of Sales. "After all, our motto is creating childhood memories. It's something we've been doing for more than two decades."

    Eastern Jungle Gym regularly hosts contests and giveaways through its website and social media channels. The company is based in Carmel, New York and has been manufacturing wooden swing sets for 22 years.

  • Swing Set Contest Ends April 10

    Eastern Jungle Gym is excited to announce its Springtime Swing Set Giveaway contest, which is open for entry for about another week and a half.

    The winner of the swing set contest will choose between two prizes: the Classic Tire Swing and the Classic Kids Swing. The first features a three-chain tire swing with plastisol coating, and it is valued at $799. The latter features a horse glider swing designed for two children, a full bucket swing and infant swing, and it is valued at $999. Both of the sets are A-frame, freestanding styles made of 100-percent cedar wood. They also use Eastern Jungle Gym's exclusive two-piece thru-bolt construction, which is safer than solid wood and laminates.

    Entry to the contest is easy. Entrants are asked to fill out this form, which simply asks for an email address to enter to win. The contest is open to residents of the continental US who are at least 18 years of age. The giveaway will close at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on April 10, 2015.

    The Springtime Swing Set Giveaway is one of many promotions recently hosted by Eastern Jungle Gym and its retail branch Best in Backyards. The company holds similar giveaways and contests throughout the year, all posted on the Eastern Jungle Gym Facebook page. Past giveaways have featured prizes such as Amazon gift cards, swing set accessories and a variety of playsets.

    "There's nothing quite as exciting as contacting a family with the good news that they have won one of our high quality swing sets," said Rolf Zimmermann, Vice President of Sales for Eastern Jungle Gym. "It's a part of the business we really enjoy."

    Eastern Jungle Gym has been a leading manufacturer of wooden swing sets for more than 22 years. Based in Carmel, New York, Eastern Jungle Gym sells its backyard playgrounds online as well as through a network of dealers located in several states. The swing sets range from traditional A-frame styles to single tower sets to huge units with tree houses, connecting bridges, multiples slides and more.

  • Swing Sets Buying Guide

    5 Things to Consider When Shopping for an Outdoor Playset

    Spring has finally arrived here in the Northeast and across the rest of the country. With warm weather right around the corner, the kids will undoubtedly be spending more and more time outdoors. If this is the year you're planning to buy a swing set, now is the time to start browsing and planning your purchase.

    When it comes to investing in a backyard playground--and all the wonderful memories that will follow--there are a few factors to think about. Here is a list of considerations (in no particular order) that we recommend you mull over as you begin shopping for a swing set.

    • Family Size: The number of little ones you foresee using the swing set on a daily basis is something to account for as you decide what size unit would fit your family's needs. If your immediate family is still growing, plan accordingly. Similarly, take extended family members and friends into consideration, too. If you typically have brothers, sisters, cousins and their young children over on the weekends, you will want to make sure your playset is large enough to accommodate the group. You can judge this by looking at the swing set and all its activities. Ideally, you'll have at least two to three swing positions (say, two for sling swings or belt swings, and the third for a horse glider swing or a gym ring/trapeze bar combo), a slide, a clubhouse with a toy or two, a rock-climbing wall, maybe some monkey bars, and so on. Consider the types of activities, too -- ones that work the upper body, the legs and so on. Do make sure the clubhouse is roomy enough for the group, too. Beyond cousins and immediate family, don't forget about the friends your kids have over after school, or the neighborhood pals they spend time with in the summer.
    • Age of Children: While it may be tempting to focus on the current ages of your little ones, we encourage families to think ahead. When purchasing a swing set, you're making an investment that will last several years. It is best to look for a swing set that has activities the kids can grow into, even if it looks large for a toddler. Otherwise you could end up buying two swing sets, one that's small (say with a deck height of just four feet) and one that's on the larger side (with a deck height of at least five and a half feet).
    A swing set with a slide, gang plank ramp, swings, ladders and a rock-climbing wall provides plenty of activities. A swing set with a slide, gang plank ramp, swings, ladders and a rock-climbing wall provides plenty of activities.
    • Available space: Perhaps the first thing you should do when you decide to add a swing set to your home is identify an appropriate space. Ideally, you're looking for a spot that is somewhat level and free of obstructions. Certain swing sets can be installed on unlevel ground, so if your property is significantly sloped, you'll want to mention this as you are out browsing for a playset. If that's the case, a swing set with an angled base, rather than a straight base, would be best. And while the backyard is the most common place to find a swing set, you could also place yours on the side of the home or in the front yard. Just be sure mom or dad has access to a window close by, so keeping an eye on the kids from inside won't be a challenge.
    • Swing Set Material: When it comes to backyard swing sets and material, you have a few choices: Metal, wooden or vinyl. Your decision will likely depend on the style of your home and backyard, your personal preference, and your budget. With more than 22 years of experience in this industry, we always recommend wooden swing sets--specifically cedar--because of their strength, beauty and natural resistance to rot and insect damage. You can find more information about other types of swing set materials here. Whichever style you choose, be sure to inspect the quality of the material and the hardware. A safe wooden swing set, for example, should have smooth, sanded wood with rounded corners, solid or thru-bolt construction, and recessed hardware.
    • Price: Once you've done a little research online, you'll see that swing set prices range from about $500, for a small unit from a big box store, all the way up to $5,000 or more, for a large, high quality swing set with many, many activities. If you are the DIY type, you may be able to install the swing set yourself. However, if you're planning to opt for a professional to do the setup, remember to factor this into the cost. Also consider the cost of adding an appropriate play surface, such as rubber mulch (our favorite for safety reasons, and the fact that it never needs replenishing) or even wood mulch, to your swing set area. This is not a requirement for a backyard swing set, but it's a good idea if you can find room in your budget. Surfacing will tack on anywhere from a few hundred bucks to an additional $3,000 to your total cost.
  • Metal, Vinyl or Wooden Swing Sets

    When it comes to selecting a new playset for the family, one of the most important first questions to consider is the type of material you are selecting. From wooden swing sets to those made of vinyl or metal, there are plenty of options, each with pros and cons that are worth contemplating before making a purchase.

    If you are leaning toward one of the many types of wooden swing sets, you have several choices: cedar, pressure-treated pine or redwood.

    Redwood, which grows on the coast of California, is the most expensive. Like cedar, it is naturally resistant to decay and rot, as well as to damage from insects. Experts consider this wood very durable, and easy to work with. It offers minimal shrinking and swelling when compared to other wood, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. As its name suggests, this wood is naturally red. This is a look many people feel adds tremendously to the aesthetics of their backyard playground.

    Still, redwood is not maintenance free. Sealing and staining a redwood swing set is a smart move, as it will lengthen its lifespan.

    Wooden swing sets that are made of cedar are naturally resistant to insect damage, rot and decay.

    Cedar wooden swing sets are typically a bit more affordable than redwood swing sets. They, too, are naturally resistant to rot, decay and insect damage -- plus, they have a beautiful aroma. They are also less prone to twisting and warping when compared to pressured-treated swing sets. Most cedar swing sets today are made from either Western red cedar, Northern white cedar or China-Fir.

    • Northern white cedar is the lightest of all commercial wood in the country, according to the US Forest Service Department of Agriculture. It glues and holds paint well and offers little dimensional change, the department states. But this wood is rather soft, so it does not hold fasteners as well as other materials. On the plus side, Northern white cedar is naturally resistant to splintering.
    • Western red cedar, which comes from the Pacific Northwest, is also known for its durability and lightness. This material has been used for decades on fencing, outdoor furniture and playgrounds.
    • China-Fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) is very resistant to decay, pest infestations and fungus. It has been used abroad for centuries because it is a terrific all-around, versatile material. This wood is typically a warm yellow or light white color, with hints of red.

    Pressure-treated swing sets contain preservatives, which are applied in an effort to make the material last. And last it does! This material can hold up for years and years, although the quality (swing sets are not all created equally) can affect tendency to warp and twist. The process for pressure-treating wood allows the preservatives to be forced deep in the wood so that the material becomes resistant (which it is not naturally) to decay, insects and rot.

    Before 2003--when the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in--this type of lumber often contained a composite that used arsenic. Today's pressure-treated wood has safer preservatives, but it is wise to look into the specific type of preservative your swing set contains before making a purchase. Pressure-treated swing sets are usually the least expensive when it comes to wooden playsets.

    Another option is metal. These are the swing sets most adults remember having as a kid. They use thin gauge steel pipes that are painted or powder-coated, and anchored in concrete. Maintenance may include applying an oil or grease to fight off corrosion, depending on the type of metal. These swing sets are strong and affordable, but definitely give a backyard a different feel than that of a wooden swing set. Again, the quality of the swing set can make a big difference, so look at plenty of reviews and be prepared with questions.

    Vinyl swing sets use pressure-treated pine wrapped in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for the structural components. They use composite decking (wood-alternatives made of recycled materials, such as plastics and lumber) for the walls and decks of the playset. There is no need to stain or seal these swing sets, but they should be cleaned annually. There is also no risk of splinters (which should be nearly non-existent with a quality wood playset that is sanded and has properly rounded edges). These swing sets are typically on the expensive side. One thing to keep in mind is that the moisture trapped in the pressured-treated pine has no place to go when it is encapsulated. That means rot is likely inevitable at some point in the life of a vinyl swing set. When that occurs, and to what degree, varies.

    One more important factor in your decision of a swing set material is the construction of the support posts and beams. Some wooden play sets use solid pieces of woods, such as 4-by-4s, which can sometimes lead to increased cracking because of the constant swelling from rain and shrinking from the heat. Other jungle gyms use a two-piece construction--where the wood is bolted together without glue. This reduces the frequency of checking and cracking. Another possibility is laminated wood, meaning multiple pieces of wood are glued together. Although often hard to detect, this type of post is prone to de-lamination and failure. Painting or sealing would only slow down the process.

    No matter the swing set style and design you are leaning toward, it is important to be educated and do your research when making this purchase. After all, this is an item your family will enjoy for years to come! We would love to hear about your experience with wooden swing sets, metal swing sets and vinyl swing sets.

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