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.
- 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.