Buying a Playground Set
A playground set can provide kids with hours of outdoor fun. It also helps them develop muscle control, balance and rhythm as they play.
Parents who watch their 4- or 5-year-old navigate a climbing wall, walk up a rope ladder or straddle fixed bridges know how important active outdoor play is for children.
A home playground set provides children with a safe way to exercise and entertain themselves. It usually includes a monkey bar, teeter-totter, trapeze bars and three swings, but can also include a slide, tube slide or jungle gym. In addition, a children’s play center can include rock walls, climbing structures, a fort and a sandbox to allow kids to explore their imagination.
A playset should have a safety-tested surface underneath all equipment to cushion falls, which account for most playground injuries. This can be wood mulch, engineered wood fiber or rubber mats that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. These mats prevent splinters and cuts from sharp equipment edges. A surfacing material should be 12 inches deep under equipment up to 8 feet high and extend a minimum of 6 feet in all directions from the edge of the equipment. Swing sets require a larger surface area.
Keep the area around all equipment free of protrusion hazards, such as exposed bolt heads or open “S”-type hooks. Some children have strangled when clothing caught on these exposed ends. Also watch for entanglement hazards, such as ropes that can catch on an opening and form a noose around a child’s neck.
A playset should have a clear, unobstructed view for adults to monitor all activities. This helps avoid tripping and falling hazards, and keeps adults from interfering with play.
For toddlers, this backyard playground set is a fun way to explore their surroundings. It has a slide, swings and a rock wall to keep kids active and engaged. It comes in a variety of colors and has smooth edges that help to minimize injuries. Made of plastic, it also has a low weight capacity to accommodate growing toddlers.
For preschoolers, a playground set with a playground set climber and monkey bars fosters physical activity, imagination and social skills. This cedar set from Gorilla Playsets has everything your kids need for a fun outdoor experience. It includes a high rail wave slide, molded seat swings, a junior rock-climbing wall, clubhouse landing with peek-a-boo windows and a steering wheel. It even has a swing-away tic-tac-toe board and telescope for creative exploration.
A spring rider is a fun addition to any playground set. It moves from front to back and around a circle to entertain kids of all ages. They’ll love to spin in the air and laugh with friends as they pretend to fly.
For a more challenging series of activities, try this portable obstacle course from Gym Dandy. It requires no permanent installation and features a rope ladder, monkey fists and rings that can be arranged in various configurations. It’s designed for kids ages six to 12 and can support up to 250 pounds.
Easy to Assemble
If you’re handy with a drill, consider buying a pre-made playset that you can put together yourself. However, it’s important to have a few tools on hand before starting. A standard hammer for nailing and a rubber mallet to fit joints without damaging them are essential. A tape measure is also a must to ensure you’re installing your playground set at the proper height and safety depths.
Many quality playsets come with lumber that’s already stained and cut, so you don’t have to do the tedious work. They’ll also have all the necessary hardware, step-by-step instructions and diagrams. playground set Some even include a mobile app that provides additional help, tips and illustrations.
You’ll need to dig holes for the posts and concrete footings, but you can minimize your labor by using a powered post hole digger. Then, lay down a layer of playground safety material to protect the soil and grass below. Make sure to keep the area 6 feet wide and deep enough for a safe play zone, which is about the size of an average backyard.
If you don’t have the time or skills to assemble your playground, consider hiring an independent contractor for the task. Most will charge by the hour, and they may be able to save you some money by doing a bit of the preparation work themselves.
If you want your playground set to last, it is important to properly maintain it. This will help prevent major damage and ensure that your kids are safe when playing. Cleaning, staining and other maintenance tasks are easy to do and should be done regularly.
Wooden parts of a playset need to be washed from time to time to remove dirt and grit that can damage the surface. This can be done with a hose or a power washer. A mild solution of water and bleach can also be used to clean the wood, returning it to a more natural color. Wood can also be protected with a stain or sealant that limits the amount of moisture it is exposed to, helping it to last longer.
Metal and plastic equipment should be cleaned periodically as well, using a damp cloth or a pressure washer to remove any dirt and grit that may have built up over time. A spray of a deicing chemical is also a good idea, especially on areas that children may walk through.
A playground needs to have a good surface to provide cushioning in case of falls. Generally, mulch is the best option, but it can erode over time and decrease the amount of cushioning it provides. It is a good idea to check the mulch depth frequently and add more as needed.