As parents, we are always looking for ways to keep our kids safe but also make sure they have fun. A backyard playground is a fantastic way to enjoy time outdoors with your children and get them physically active every day.
With dedicated play areas, children can invite friends over and have play dates all centered around their swing set. It will also provide them the opportunity to make new friends and learn new games and types of play that they haven’t explored yet.
One of the most important aspects of swing sets, however, is the safety of the swings. Today we want to review the rules to live by when installing a swing set to ensure that children are safe from beginning to end.
How Do You Space Out Swings on a Swing Set?
There are a few rules and ideas about the spacing that you will want to consider before setting up your swings. These general ideas will ensure that your children stay safe during playtime and that you also get the most out of your space.
These are spacing items that you’ll want to consider and follow to ensure the most fun — and safest — environment.
How Far Apart Should Swings Be?
There are two numbers to keep in mind when you’re deciding how to space your swings: 16 and 18 inches. Each swing should be 18 inches apart, meaning that each hanger should be 16 inches apart. These estimates are some of the best ways to ensure that swingers don’t accidentally collide.
You may absolutely set swings further than 18 inches apart, but first, consider how much total space you have. A backyard is not complete with a swing set alone; many other fun structures can maximize playtime joy.
How Far Off the Ground Should Swings Be?
How far off the ground the swings should be depends on the age of your children as well as the type of swing you’re installing. For toddlers, swings that feature fully enclosed seats will need to be set higher off the ground if adults plan on getting in on the fun too.
For preschool-aged children, you will start at a 12-inch height from the base of your playground to where the seat sits for the safest and most ideal swinging. You can move up to 16 inches off the ground for young school-aged children and then 24 inches off the ground for older kids.
This will give everyone the space they need to exercise and enjoy their swings, but also keep them safe and ensure that nothing goes wrong.
How Do You Keep the Space Under a Swing Set Safe?
The space under a swing is crucial as it becomes a landing spot for kids. Many times as children start to get older; they’ll start to experiment with their physical boundaries on playground equipment. Other times, children are just learning to get their hand-eye coordination in place and aren’t as adept at staying on the swings when the play gets a tad rambunctious.
Upon consideration of these two factors, installing a soft landing spot between the swing and the ground is recommended.
You can generally use the same playground filler material underneath the swings, but you will have to add additional material to pad it correctly. As a good rule of thumb, provide at least six inches of material underneath your swing to ensure there’s proper padding for your little ones.
How Do You Adjust Swings on a Swing Set?
Changing the spacing over time of your swings is also very common. As children grow, they can handle less distance between each other and still keep safe.
If you’re at this stage with your own kids, you might be considering adding a second or third swing to your playground equipment. You may also be trying to raise the height of the swings to balance out the age of your children, so they can enjoy their playground long into their teens.
If this is the case, there are also a few tips and tricks that you can use to get the job done quickly and easily:
Look for Pre-Drilled Holes
The safest and surest way to raise swings on your playground equipment is to use pre-drilled holes made by the manufacturer. You’ll likely find these on the chain link on the sides of the swing. If you can locate these, you can get the new height adjustment done in a matter of minutes.
Create New Mounting Points for Your Swings (If Needed)
Raising the swings can also mean finding a new mounting point for your swings.
In this scenario, you generally won’t have the option of pre-drilled holes. Double-check that your swing is perfectly level and at the appropriate height, then create a new set of points to mount your swing.
For this, you’ll need to use a drill bit that can create a hole in the material type that your swing mounts are made from. Black oxide and cobalt steel bits are the strongest, while a high-speed steel bit (HSS) is generally fine for lightweight jobs.
No matter which drill bit you use, proper PPE is vital. Wear safety glasses and protective gloves before drilling holes into metal (or any other material).
- Pro-tip: test out the new mount before allowing your children to play on it again. This will ensure that this adjusted mount can hold your child’s weight and keep them safe during play.
Double-Check Your Measurements Before You Drill!
Always measure twice, cut/drill once. Check your measurements for proper leveling and accurate height before creating new mounting points. The last thing you want to do is drill incorrectly, and either have to start over or order a new part because of the mistake.
How To Keep Your Backyard Swing Set Safe
Now that your swings are ready for play, have you checked to make sure that your swing set is fully intact and safe? If you’re installing a playset for the first time, there are a few key points you want to check off the to-do list.
Keep the Ground Level in Your Kids’ Play Area
You always want to ensure that your playground space is level and even. The area that your playground equipment sits on needs to be completely level. Otherwise, you risk the swing set being top-heavy and falling over.
We have plenty of tips on how to level your yard to prepare for a new playground, so be sure to read them through!
Use Rubber Mulch To Make the Playground Extra-Safe
When kids are playing on their backyard structures, the furthest thing from their minds is how padded their ground is. Even though they don’t worry about details like these, as parents, we need to.
Using a rubber mulch as the ground covering and the material underneath your play structure will keep your kids safe while playing. If they jump off a ledge or fall at the end of a slide, they will land on a very absorbent rubber base that will soften the landing for them.
There are many options out there for rubber mulch or other padding materials, so be sure to shop around and find the right material for you. Also, consider adding a playground border; this will keep the mulch inside the designated playground space and keep it out of the rest of your backyard.
Space Out Your Other Play Equipment
Even if your swings are spaced out well, you need to make sure you’re planning adequate space for the rest of your equipment also. Slides and climbing walls are very popular additions to playgrounds, but you want to ensure that your swings have enough clearance to avoid collisions between children on the playground.
Measure for at least six feet of clearance in front of and behind the swings to ensure that swingers have enough space to play and other children can play other activities without being accidentally kicked or colliding with swing jumpers.
Some adults may live by the motto, work hard and play hard. Children are more likely to play hard and play hard. The effects of this all-encompassing joy and thrilling adventure can result in wear and tear on play equipment. To keep everyone safe, regularly inspect that playground equipment is tear-free and free of rust or other environmental damage.
The best piece of advice left about your playground equipment is to inspect and maintain it often. You can greatly prolong your playground's life by keeping it well-maintained and replacing any pieces that aren’t functioning properly. Swing sets are a childhood favorite, and with adult supervision, a swing set can hold up to even the most rigorous play.