Think Fun, But Think Long-Term
Don’t buy a swing set, seat, or accessory that’s perfect for your child right now. Kids grow. A bigger playset requires more supervision early on, but it’ll pay off in the long run. While you’re pondering the future, here are some question to ask yourself while browsing:
- Are you going to have more kids?
- How often do you entertain friends and their children?
- Do you think you’ll host play dates?
Just like indoor furniture, your outdoor investments deserve the tape measure treatment. Carefully measure your yard taking note of pathways, patios, dog houses, trees, shrubbery, and anything else that might be in the way.
Also, don’t let your future swing set become something that could be considered “in the way,” either. You might want a vegetable garden or pool one day and let’s not forget about leaving some room for kids to run, ride bikes, and play catch! Swing sets require six feet of clearance around them for safety, so factor that in as well.
When it comes to something for your kids, you want the highest quality for your dollar. There are a wide variety of materials used in today’s swing sets and accessories including wood, metal, and vinyl, and here’s what they’ll bring to your backyard:
- Wood blends in with the landscape and has a rustic charm, however these sets require more maintenance and are almost guaranteed to give your kid a splinter one day.
- Sets made of recycled materials require less care and won’t give splinters as easily, but they’re more expensive.
- o Softer woods are cheaper, but take damage more easily.
- The most durable option and one that requires almost no maintenance, just make sure you get one that’s rust-resistant.
- Rust-resistant galvanized steel is the best and is right in the middle of the swing set price range.
- The most expensive option.
- Vinyl-covered wood is protected against rot, mold, mildew and splinters, and is available in a variety of fun colors.
Every swing set manufacturer is sent a list of safety recommendations, but unfortunately they’re just recommendations and not all companies follow them. Safeguard your children against poorly made play equipment by reading every bit of information thoroughly before you buy. Here are a few key details to look for when setting up a swing set:
No Openings Less Than 3.5 Inches or Greater Than 9 Inches
- This will prevent head entrapment at all ages.
No Exposed Moving Parts & Nothing That Could Pinch or Crush
- Carefully examine the play set for any metal hooks and springs that can pinch or hurt fingers. Gliders and swings with removable trays are the biggest offenders.
Swings Should NOT Hang from Monkey Bars
- This can cause kids on the monkey bars to get entangled in the swings. Rather than just discontinue this design a lot of manufacturers just suggest parents remove the swing when kids are using the bars.
No Metal Slides
- Do remember going down a hot metal slide as a kid? If you don’t it’s only because you’ve blocked it from memory.
- Rubber mulch and padding looks great and is an inexpensive way to prevent scraped knees and worse injuries.
- If your child has special needs, buy specialty equipment that has room for a wheelchair platform, seats, or harnesses./li>
Don't Forget the Accessories
A swing set with swings alone just can’t compete with cartoons and video games. Create an environment where your children can use their imagination and get some exercise by buying a set with a wealth of activities built-in or, better yet, consider a modular set that allows you to add extra pieces when desired.
What sort of accessories should you get? Well, go on a trial run: watch your child in action on the school or park playground. Depending on their age and skill level, you can pick something as simple as a slide or as daring as a zip line or climbing wall. If you don’t have a local park or playground, browse the Hayneedle.com catalogue with your child and let them select their favorites from a variety of options including monkey bars, ropes, tunnels, and sandboxes so their swing set has all the bells and whistles-- and yes, we have bells and whistles.