Backyard playset

Remember being excited as a child when playing on the family’s backyard playset or going to a public playground? Why not recreate the memories by building a backyard playset for children to enjoy? New Jersey Swingsets notes that backyard playsets could prevent an onset of childhood obesity. Children learn how to develop their hand-eye coordination by going down slides, swinging on swings, and crossing the monkey bars. Parents like the idea of playsets because they get to have some personal time to themselves. Their children go outside to release pent up energy and come back inside after playing to sleep restfully for the night.

School and extracurricular activities could be stressful for children of all ages, but playing on a backyard playset could produce a sense of calm and happiness to release stress (via Adventure World Playsets). While the child is playing, they’re building stronger bones, muscles, joints, and tendons. Their immune system also improves due to receiving a dose of Vitamin D from being outside in the sun. Children develop a sense of imagination and creativity by pretending the playset is a castle, home, or clubhouse.

Backyard playsets also enable children to learn about taking turns and cooperating with other children (via Eastern Jungle Gym). For children who have older siblings or are only children, they learn to play independently by themselves on a backyard playset to develop their own self-reliance. Constructing a backyard playset could be accomplished by following these steps.

Having space

Wide space for swing set

Before building a playset, think about the space needed to have one in the backyard. Backyard Adventures suggested that six feet of space around the playset should be utilized to ensure proper spacing. Don’t install playset equipment on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete. Keep the playset away from bricks, rocks, and branches. Try to build on a part of the backyard where the land is level and not on an incline. Though rubber mulch is more expensive than wood chips, placing rubber mulch under the swing set allows for a safer fall.

Try not to obstruct children’s view by building a playset near trees, (via The Swing Set Co.). Doing so could pose a safety hazard by not allowing children to see parents or be able to look out for any potential dangers. The benefit of having trees around a backyard playset is that they block the sun’s rays from causing children to get sunburned, heat stroke, or sun poisoning. If the backyard playset must be built near trees, routinely clean up debris caused by fallen leaves, twigs, or branches.

Proper grounding

Playset surrounded by wood chips

Children need to feel safe while playing on a backyard playset. Lessen serious falls and injuries by buying ground covering for the area under the swing set, as stated by Yard Kidz. While grass is soft, it won’t always prevent serious fall injuries. Wood chips and mulch chips are popular options to have as grounding. Wood chips are chopped up pieces of wood whereas mulch chips are made from shredded wood. When it comes to fall injuries, wood chips could prevent injuries from 10 feet high and mulch chips could prevent injuries from seven feet high. Wood chips and mulch chips range from $15 to $30 per cubic yard. The chips need to be changed out every one to two years.

Rubber mulch is another type of grounding used for playsets (via Backyard Adventures). The advantages of rubber mulch is that the material is slip resistant, comes in assorted colors, and is easy to maintain. Though it tends to shift over time, sand is another popular type of grounding used for playsets, but much maintenance is required because it needs to be refilled often. A different kind of grounding is pea gravel which limits weed growth, but pea gravel could get too hot and isn’t soft to fall on. Turf grounding drains rainwater and is soft enough to cushion serious falls.

Costs

Woman counting money

Cost is a major factor when deciding on how much to pay when constructing a backyard playset. According to Own Playground, the average playset is about $2,000. A basic playset with a swing set and slides could be about $500, but more sophisticated playsets that contain multiple more features and types of activity areas could cost $7,000. The most common material backyard playsets are made from is wood. Wooden playsets are sturdy, but require more maintenance. Redwood finishes are attractive and cedarwood finishes are well-priced.

Other than the price of the playset equipment, parents need to be aware of how much certain playset brands cost. If the backyard needs to be leveled, costs need to be considered when removing soil, rocks, and trees to achieve even ground. It may be more expensive to go with a professional contractor to build a playset versus doing a DIY project. Permits are an additional cost if the area neighborhood’s homeowner’s association requires one when building backyard playsets.

Materials and maintenance

Wood lumber

Maintaining a backyard playset is necessary. Make sure equipment is installed correctly without any loose or broken bolts, recommends Superior Play Systems. Remove any ropes or odd contraptions that may pose choking hazards. Though metal may seem durable, wood playsets are the better option because wood doesn’t absorb heat, become rusted, or crack. Be sure to buy lumber that’s dependable and won’t warp or collapse. Unreliable lumber could split in pieces and cause children to get splinters or rashes if they touch the wood. Buy a wood protectant to spray on the playset.

To be safe, place slip guards and install safety rails on the playset equipment so children can climb and walk easily without falling. Doing these tasks may cost extra, but they’ll be helpful overall for young children trying to improve their motor skills. Store removable playset parts in the garage or another storage area during the wintertime so they don’t get covered with snow or become frozen. As always, brush away any dirt or debris on the playset and replace mulch during warmer seasons when needed.

Safety precautions

Boy hanging off playset

When children are playing on the backyard playset, it’s beneficial that they understand basic rules and that parents teach them how to be safe so as not to hurt themselves. Teach children to go down slides properly inside of climbing up slides as well as not standing on swing sets, All Recreation advises. Sizzling summer days call for heat and rainy days make everything wet outside. Parents should check equipment to make sure nothing feels too hot or is wet. Children shouldn’t wear loose clothes such as scarves that’ll get tangled in equipment.

For infants and toddlers, purchase swings that are made for their age and size instead of buying equipment that is too mature and big for them (via Backyard Discovery). Slides shouldn’t be too big for infants or toddlers, either. Once children are old enough, playset equipment could be switched out to accommodate their growth. The playset should be fully anchored into the ground so it will be as secure and safe as possible. Children should be supervised by parents and follow rules about taking turns and not harming themselves or anyone else.

Age-appropriateness

Rock climbing wall

Before purchasing a backyard playset, parents need to know about finding age appropriate equipment. Pro Playgrounds notes that there are safety concerns related to children using equipment that’s either too small or too big for them — not to mention that it’s just not as fun, since wrong-sized playsets can lead to frustration. For infants and toddlers, find size-appropriate equipment that enables them to crawl, sit, and pull themselves up. Preschool-aged children do well with small climbing equipment and using their fine motor skills. Since they’re growing quickly, school-aged children desire more intricate playset equipment that develops their coordination, strength, and balance.

Need ideas for playset equipment that’ll work for different age groups? Baby swings and tunnels with bubble panels and sand tables (with a few added toys for playing in the sand) work wonders for infants and toddlers (via Swing Kingdom). Preschoolers do well with low rock climbing walls and swings. Tubular slides and spiral slides are fun to play on as well. Children aged five and older often enjoy trapeze bars or rings as well as firefighter poles. Cargo nets and ropes used for grabbing and climbing are popular picks for older children.

Longevity

Aged wooden playset

For parents who plan to have more children or want to live in their house for a while, they should gear towards backyard playset equipment that will last. According to Superior Play Systems, wooden backyard playsets could be sustainable for over 20 years. The best kind of wood to use is cedar because it’s insect resistant and the wood won’t shrink due to adverse weather. Not interested in wooden playsets? Vinyl playsets last a long time, but longevity depends on what type of wood is underneath the vinyl coating. Metal playsets could last for over 15 years, but metal tends to rust and break. For toddlers, parents prefer plastic playsets. Though plastic is affordable, it’s not strong enough to manage heavy weights.

To guarantee longevity, make sure the playset is installed properly so there’s no uneven weight distribution and build on level ground (via Kid Kraft). If the playset is made of wood, parts of it could break off if not built evenly. Keep the wood in decent shape by using a water-repellant stain protectant once a year. This not only will keep the wood in good condition, but also maintain its natural beauty. During winter months, remove any detachable parts of the playset and place them back on once warmer weather hits. Freezing temperatures could damage parts of a playset and make them lose their structural integrity over time.

Professional help

Tired contractor near swing set

Building a new backyard playset could be hard, that’s why some parents would rather have professional help. Installing a backyard playset could take anywhere from four hours to multiple days to complete, advises The Backyard Guys. There are numerous reasons why parents may want to have someone professionally install their backyard playset. Parents may not have the time to construct a backyard playset themselves or don’t know where to begin.

Local installation companies are a viable option, but they may sometimes be fully booked during spring and summer. It may be best to book in advance to get a local contractor to the house. National installation companies are usually less expensive, but they do all kinds of installation projects, not just playset construction, so some contractors may have less experience with playset building. A rule of thumb would be to start installation after receiving the playset’s parts so as not to worry about delivery fees. Be wary if a piece of equipment needs to be replaced to receive new parts for the project before fully beginning.

Inclusiveness

Wheelchair accessible swing

There are backyard playset options that can be added or included so that kids with disabilities don’t have to miss out on the backyard fun. Adventure World Play Sets suggests buying a wheelchair swing for children with mobility disabilities. The straps would keep the wheelchair in place and enable the child to swing safely. Installing side-by-side slides would allow the parent and child to hold hands to slide down together at the same time. It’s also a good idea to consider adding features such as sandboxes or sand tables and large plastic games (such as tic-tac-toe) for even more options.

Try to create areas that make it possible for wheelchairs to move around by installing rubber walkways (via MRC). Ramps are another fundamental part of playset accessibility that allow feasible movement. Allow children to explore their musical interests by adding items such as drums or wind chimes to engage all of the child’s senses.

Neighborhood regulations

Homeowners association manual

While parents and children may desire a big backyard playset that satisfies their needs and feels inviting to other children in the neighborhood, permission from the homeowners association (HOA) needs to be had before beginning a project. Tree Frogs suggests that parents look around their neighborhood to see what kinds of backyard playsets other families have. Take note of size and materials that other families have used. Fill out an application for the homeowners association. Once it’s sent out and if the application comes back approved, building can begin.

Before building a backyard playset, think of proper sizing with platform and roof heights. Shop around at local home construction stores to check out color swatches and decide what materials are best to use when building. Think about building a fence to have privacy and to keep children in the backyard. While it’s nice to have something children can play on, don’t create an attractive nuisance.

Added home value

Swing set and homes

When it comes to home property values, having a backyard playset may add to the home’s overall appeal which could increase cost. Yard Kidz explains that parents may like the idea of a well-built playset, especially if the neighborhood is populated with children. Young professional workers or retired people may not be as interested in purchasing a house with a backyard playset. If young married professionals plan to have children in the future or retired people have grandchildren over to their house, having a backyard playset may seem more attractive. To add curb appeal, fix rusted brackets and loose bolts on the playset. Clean up any cobwebs and debris with a dustpan and brush as minor housekeeping duties.

Though having a themed backyard playset that features sports or Disney characters may be exciting, keep things generic to appeal to a wide range of children for future moving (via Sun Shine & Play). Think about size as far as making sure the backyard playset doesn’t engulf the whole size of the yard. Potential buyers may not like a huge playset in a small backyard. A nice backyard playset may not raise property tax values substantially, but could add aesthetic value.

Themes

Dragon themed playset

Due to social media and streaming services on television being prevalent, children aren’t playing outdoors as much as past generations did, notes Miracle. Children should have at least an hour of outdoor activity each day to promote a healthy lifestyle. For parents who want to create a specific theme for their child’s backyard playset, try to make parts engaging for a wide range of ages. This will make the playset appealing to various age groups, and ensure that the playset grows with your children.

Think of imaginative play. What about children who enjoy transportation? Create a backyard playset that has cars or firetrucks where the child could pretend they’re operating the vehicle. Do the children enjoy space and learning about the planets? Build and paint a tower made to look like a space station. For the girl or the boy who likes learning about queens and kings, create a castle tower with attached streamers. There’s no limit to what’s possible.

Skill advantages

Children playing in a sandbox

Children learn more than just playing if they have a backyard playset. Not only do they learn to be more active, but they also learn how to resolve conflicts and play with others more constructively, according to Own Playground. When children play with their friends or siblings on play equipment, they learn how to listen to others’ opinions and feelings if problems arise. Parents won’t always be around to help with conflicts, so children learn to think and act independently. Children learn honesty and how to keep positive attitudes if they lose at a game. Winning isn’t everything — sometimes it’s how well they played the game.

With playsets, children learn physical skills as well (via Playground Outfitters). They develop hand-eye coordination when trying to climb up steps to go down a slide. As far as spatial awareness is concerned, children learn how to be aware of their surroundings and to not bump into other children. Children build muscle strength in their arms by going across monkey bars. They also build strength pumping their legs while swinging. When it comes to dexterity, children learn to use their hands to grab and hold onto poles and nets when playing.

Parent involvement

Mom swinging her daughter

Parents should get involved with their children’s play. Not only does it bring the family closer together, but parents learn how to expand their own imaginations as well. According to Adventure World Play Sets, parents could get involved in a variety of backyard activities that appeal to their tastes as well. Want to try something different than building a backyard playset? Grow a butterfly garden with flowers that attract butterflies. Children would learn how to maintain a garden by planting seeds and watering routinely. For the families who enjoy sports, buy a soccer net or a t-ball stand to practice soccer and baseball with young children.

While parents enjoy spending outdoor time with their children, sometimes they need a break. Building an outdoor gazebo provides adequate space to rest. Attach a hammock to two trees or build a free-standing hammock to rest during hazy, warm days. To feel like a child again, parents could install adult-sized swings for a backyard playset. You can’t go wrong when building a backyard playset with the right space, materials, and accommodations. Be creative and most importantly, have fun.