Kids love swings (they’re pretty funny for adults, too, actually). And if you have a large enough backyard, a swing set can make a great addition! But it’s important to install it correctly so that it can be enjoyable and safe. Let’s talk a little about how to go about it!
It’s best to have a partner when installing a swing set since some of the pieces are long, and when assembled, it still has to be moved. Depending on how complex the set is, it may take 3 – 5 hours for assembly.
Choosing A Safe Space
Before anything else, you need to choose where your swing set will go. You need a space large enough to accommodate the set itself, plus about 6 feet on each side. Because remember, those swings will swing beyond the frame of the set, and there’s a lot of running, jumping, and other kinds of exercise involved!
Once you choose a spot, you can narrow your search for swing sets.
Tool and Supplies You’ll Need
We’ll divide the equipment into phases to make it easier to understand. Of course, we’re assuming here that you already have the swing set on hand!
To get the area ready, we recommend:
- Tape measure
- Wooden stakes (to mark area)
- Garden rake
- Leaf rake
- Shovel (if the ground needs to be leveled)
- Mulch or soft-pour rubber, sufficient to cover the area.
The best place to discover what tools you need to assemble your swing set is the instructions in the kit. However, here’s a general idea:
- Rubber mallet
- Socket wrench with sockets to fit the bolts of your set (usually ½ inch)
- Adjustable wrench
If it’s a wooden swing set, you might also want:
- Electric drill with a pilot bit
- Claw hammer
- Tape measure
To anchor your swing set, be sure to have:
- Post hole digger (or shovel)
- A 50-pound bag of cement (this is sufficient for a 4-legged swing set; you may need more for larger sets)
- Wheelbarrow or large bucket for mixing cement
- Shovel for mixing cement
For routine maintenance, use the same tools that you used to assemble the swing set.
Preparing the Ground
Before unpacking the swing set itself, be sure to clear the ground where it will go. It helps to measure it off and mark off the corners with stakes.
Use your level to make sure the ground is even across the whole area. Uneven ground can make the swing set unstable, which is dangerous for your children and anyone in the general area of the set.
As necessary, dig out the ground to make it level using your shovel and garden rake. Afterward, be sure to remove any debris with your leaf rake.
Assembling the Swing Set
Next, open the box(es) the swing set came in and find the instructions. Lay out all the pieces and make sure everything on the inventory list is present.
Carefully follow the instructions to assemble the set. Be careful not to try to lift large pieces alone; remember, this project is best done with at least one assistant!
Be sure there are no rough edges. If it’s a wooden set, sand down any sharp spots. If it’s metal, be sure to trim off anything that could be harmful.
Since each set is so unique, we can’t go into more detail – just be careful to follow the instructions. Remember, the safety of your children and others is at stake!
Anchor the Swing Set
Many swings come with an anchor system. But for the best stability, you should sink these into cement rather than just soil.
If your swing set doesn’t come with anchors, we recommend buying them separately, according to the type of swing set you have.
Set the swing set in position, and mark where the legs will be. Move the swing set about 18 inches back so that you can dig holes to pour the cement footers.
Dig a hole about 12 inches deep and 8 inches square at each point. Mix your concrete then fill the holes with it, to about an inch below surface level.
Place the swing set over the holes, with the anchors in the cement. Follow the instructions that come with the anchors to determine the proper way to sink them into the cement.
Allow the concrete to dry for 24-48 hours before using the swing set. Backfill any remaining space in the hole.
Falling off a swing set can be painful; so can jumping off. It can even lead to broken bones.
Use mulch, or even better, soft-pour rubber padding, to cover the entire area around the swing set, including the space up to six (6) feet around it. The grass is not going to protect anyone from injury!
If you choose mulch, pour it to a depth of about 9 inches. Remember it’s going to settle and get kicked around, so the depth is important. Also, it will need to be replaced about every two years.
The soft-pour rubber padding used on playgrounds is a great alternative, too. It’s a bit more expensive in the short term, but it offers more protection and will hold up longer.
Maintenance and Upkeep
A swing set undergoes a lot of stress and strain, even from small children. Be sure to check its stability regularly – several times a season is best!
Examine all bolts and tighten them as needed. Don’t forget to look at the chains of the swings. Keep your eyes open for rust, especially at the joints. Also, be on the lookout for splinters or rough edges.
Even out the mulch that’s been kicked around, or make sure the rubber surface is even and doesn’t pose a tripping hazard.
Enjoying a swing, slides, monkey bars and more is a great part of growing up. Your children can enjoy these great activities in your yard, but it does take some work and care to assemble a swing set like this! But with a little help, you’ll soon have them safely pumping their legs to go higher or sliding down to the ground!