You think choosing a swing set is the hard part? You wait until you have to decide where to put it in your yard (not to mention trying to build it!).
I say this half in jest, because often if your yard isn’t that big you might be limited to where you can put your swing set.
However, if you are lucky enough to have a fair bit of space, then you might be left wondering where to place that swing set you have just bought.
After all, once you have put your swing set in place, it is a big effort to move it.
So let’s look at what you might need to consider.
Where Should You Put A Swing Set In Your Yard?
The best place to put a swing set in your yard will be guided by a number of factors: are there any trees or plants surrounding or overhanging the spot? Can you allow for a safety zone around it? Is the ground relatively flat and firm? Will it be in direct scorching sunlight constantly? Is it visible from your home? Consider all of these factors before choosing a final location.
Where to Put a Swing Set In Your Yard: Things to Consider
#1: Think About Trees, Plants, Bushes and More!
When trying to work out the best place to put your swing set, consider everything around its location.
You might think it would look great at the back of the yard, with the canopy of your trees providing some shade.
Those trees might be 10 or 20 feet above the playset.
But remember trees do lose their branches, usually it is just a small twig or two that falls down, but what happens if it is the one time a year a fairly sizeable branch snaps off just as your son or daughter is playing on the swing set?
Or does the tree have needles that will litter the swing set?
Or what about once your child gets to the top of their new fort, suddenly those trees that seemed so far away on the ground are just about in reach and are prime for climbing?
Are there ropes, wires, fences or anything that your child might be tempted to launch themselves onto from a prime position atop their new swing set?
Are there any plants or bushes near the swing set? You might think they are sufficiently far away, but after your child comes flying down the slide, their momentum might make them stumble into them.
What about rocks or trip hazards on the floor?
When you are thinking about the best location in your yard for your new swing set, these are all things you need to take stock of.
It is better to be safe than sorry!
#2: Make Sure You Have A Safety Zone
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a swing set should be “at least 6 feet from any structure or obstacle, such as a house, fence, sheds, trees or poles”.
They also reserve special guidance for the swings themselves saying that they should be “a distance equal to twice the height of the top bar from which the swing is suspended” away from structures to the front and rear of them.
So in other words, if your swing beam is eight feet high, you need 16 feet of open space both in front of and behind the swings.
These are only recommendations and I am sure there are some of you reading this thinking we never had a six feet safety buffer on our swing set and there were never any injuries.
It is, of course, all about being sensible.
Your children will be climbing, running and jumping all over it, you want to make sure there is enough space for them to do all of this safely.
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#3: Do You Need Space to Expand?
One good way to future-proof your swing set is to buy a model that allows you to expand it, or change parts as your children get older.
What is fun for a 3-year-old will probably not be so appealing once your child gets to 7 years old, and certainly won’t be as much fun when they get to 10 years old.
If you get a play set that you can expand or swap things in and out as your child gets older, it gives it a much longer life span.
So you get much more bang for your buck.
But also you might need to factor in some extra space when you install your swing set initially.
Because if you do plan on expanding it in a few years, that extra tower or swing bay needs to go somewhere.
So go back to points 1 and 2, and consider them when you allow for extra space.
#4: Try and Keep Things Level
Ideally you want to put a swing set on the flattest part of your yard.
The more level the ground, the more level and stable the structure.
If your yard is particularly undulating, then you will probably have to do some work to level it out, so your swing set can be secured safely.
Also think about the soil conditions in your yard. If you install your swing set on soft and moist soil, it will have a number of detrimental effects, namely:
- It will rot wooden swing sets more quickly.
- It will be more difficult to anchor the swing set safely.
- Over time the swing set will sink into the ground and become unbalanced.
In short, the ideal surface for a swing set would be level, firm, dry and not prone to flooding or getting saturated in water.
Not too much to ask is it?!
#5: Where Is The Sun Going To Be?
Now this very much depends upon the weather conditions where you live, but you should certainly consider how much sun your yard gets.
If you are lucky enough to have long and very hot summers, then as nice as it is to see your children outside getting a dose of Vitamin D, you probably won’t want them out in scorching 90/100 degree heat for hour upon end.
Not only that, in those temperatures certain parts of the swing set might literally be burning.
The slide is always a prime candidate for absorbing the sun’s rays, and what your child might think is a quick trip down it could result in lots of tears when their bare legs touch the burning plastic.
Sun can also have a detrimental effect on the wood, bleaching the color from it, along with other items on the swing set like tarps or flags.
An ideal situation probably would be to put your swing set in a spot that gets sun in the morning, and then shade in the afternoon.
But certainly you don’t want to put your swing set somewhere where it will be too hot to use at the exact time it should be getting the most use, on those long, lazy summer days.
#6: Make Sure It Is Visible
For your own peace of mind you will want the swing set to be visible to you when you are in the house.
Just so you can keep an eye on the proceedings and react quickly if anything does go wrong.
Then you will probably want to strike somewhat of balance so you can still get a bit of peace and quiet, but the swing set is in your eye line from at least a couple of vantage points inside.
#7: Avoid the Sprinklers
If you have a sprinkler system running in your yard, you don’t want the swing set in direct line of it.
Initially your kids might like the novelty of suddenly being sprayed with water, but it will soon wear off.
Not only that it will contribute to wood rotting and metal rusting too.
#8: Watch Out For Those Utilities
As well as avoiding a sprinkler system, be wary of any utilities running through your yard.
Ideally you don’t want to place your swing set above any of these lines, just in case they need to be dug up and rerouted or repaired for any reason.
#9: Don’t Upset the HOA
If your property is part of a Homeowners Association then make sure you check your plans with them before you put anything into action.
Some HOAs can be very restrictive, and it isn’t unheard of for some to be very particular about the height of swing sets.
#10: Don’t Upset Your Neighbours
Likewise, you need to be conscious about upsetting your direct neighbors.
Much will depend upon the relationship you have with them, but if all of a sudden a swing set goes up in your yard so your children can look right into your neighbor’s garden they might not be too happy.
If that is the case, broach the subject before you get too far into the planning stages.
#11: Where Will It Look Best
Let’s say you’ve read through this list and you are lucky enough to have several potential spots in your yard to put a swing set.
Consider where it will look best in your yard.
If you have it slap bang in the center it might be easier to get to, but it also might make your yard look smaller.
If it is off to the side, it might be more difficult for you to be able to keep an eye on it.
Have a look at all the possible locations and make a list of the pros and cons of each.
- Make sure no trees or plants are dangerously close.
- Ensure there is a ‘safety zone’ around the swing set.
- Consider if you will need space to expand the swing set in the future.
- If possible install it on dry, flat and firm ground.
- Make sure it isn’t constantly in direct sunlight if you live in a hot area.
- It should be visible to you from inside the home.
- Keep it away from sprinklers.
- Avoid placing it over utility lines.
- Don’t upset the HOA or your neigbours.
- Read the CPSC’s Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook.
As you can see, when you think about the best place to put a swing set in your yard, there is a lot to take into consideration.
Don’t let the above list intimidate you though, the main thing to remember is to find ground that is fairly flat, and isn’t directly surrounded/overlooked by lots of trees and plants.
Once you have done that, half the war is won.
Unless you are very lucky, there is never going to be the perfect swing set location, so you can settle for a good location.
A good, safe location will allow you to relax, because there is no doubt that your kids will have fun wherever the swing set goes!