curiosity | Feb 01, 2024

Where Should You Put a Swing Set in Your Yard?

By Blue Squirrel Team

Where Should You Put a Swing Set in Your Yard?


Summer and fall months are such an inviting time to really make your outdoor living spaces feel like a fun and welcoming place. Depending on your property and the way your yard is structured, there are a variety of different layouts to choose from when it comes to designing your outside area and making it a beautiful yet functional place.


Where Should You Put Your Playset in Your Yard I Blue Squirrel Outdoor Playsets

With children running around, a dog or two playing fetch, and maybe a baby crawling through the grass exploring their surroundings, your yard could be quite busy on a daily basis. If getting a playset for your yard is the next step, you may be wondering where is a good place to put it. Today, we are here to talk about all things “exterior design” and help you narrow down what options/layouts may work best for your yard and lifestyle.

Technically, your yard includes your front, sides, and back yard. Most families tend not to put a playset in their front yard due to aesthetic and privacy reasons. For that reason, we will be focusing on options and suggestions regarding your backyard, as well as the sides of your yard, if there is little to no backyard space.
It’s time to review all the tools you need to make a beautiful and practical outdoor area for you and your family. Let’s get started!


Rules and Regulations


Adding a playset to your home isn’t always as simple as point, click, and wait for the delivery. There are a few critical notes to make about laws and regulations that might interfere with or influence your process. 


Zoning Laws


First, you’ll want to check with the local zoning rules from your city government. Some cities have regulations on the sizes of additional structures (like playhouses, sheds, patio covers, etc.).

For example, in Santa Barbara, California, their city building code stipulates that one-story detached buildings — including playhouses— may not exceed 12 feet in height or 120 square feet. However, homeowners have it somewhat easier because playhouses and similar structures do not require a building permit. 


HOA Specifications


Forty million households in the United States live under the purview of an HOA (Homeowners Association). However, not all of the 370,000 homeowners associations have the same rules. 

Homeowners associations have several possible lifestyle regulations they could enforce. Some examples include mailbox style, fencing/hedges, number and type of pets, decorations, house color, and, yes, play structures. Specifically, your HOA might have specifications on what they deem to be acceptable sizes, locations, and construction methods for play structures. 

Homeowners and their local HOA have gotten into disputes over playsets in the past, with one even escalating to a federal lawsuit in 2019. It’s best to check with your neighborhood’s HOA before making any significant changes to your home’s exterior, including playsets. 

If an HOA board deems an individual to have violated their rules, it’s possible for the organization to fine the offending party or even put a lien on the home — note that these rules vary state by state. 


Questions To Answer Before Getting Started


There are some simple questions you will want to answer before getting started. These questions will help guide you in the right direction of figuring out what will work best in your yard and be most functional for your family.


Calculate the Available Space


To begin, figure out how large your backyard and side yards are. You don’t need to necessarily know the ft. by ft. dimensions, but a rough estimate will suffice. 

To measure your backyard, you can rely on a garden hose if you don’t have a long enough measuring tape. If your hose length is 50 feet and it lays out twice, you know your backyard is 100 feet long. 

If there are any structures in the middle of this space, you can calculate around them. For example, if there’s a shed in the yard, measure the length and width and multiply them to get the area. Then, you’ll subtract that number from the size of your yard. 


Determine Playset Size


Another question to have answered is how large the playset will be. Playsets can vary in size significantly, so having an idea or estimate of how large the playset is will be very helpful when it comes to planning this out.

People who love a visual representation can use chalk or string to mark out the size of the playset to get a better idea of how it will compare to the lot size. 


Safety Considerations


While we always go over safety rules for outdoor play with our children, we still need to keep an eye on them. In the excitement of playtime, rules can sometimes be forgotten (or ignored) in the name of childhood joy.

As such, the third question is, what visual points do you have when it comes to your backyard and side yards? Are you able to see your whole backyard from your kitchen window facing the backyard?

If there’s a side yard that you’re considering putting a playset in, are there multiple windows facing that yard? If so, would your daily work and tasks position you near that window?


Future Renovation Plans


Lastly, try to envision what you want your outdoor space to look like years down the road. If there are goals or plans to eventually put in other large structures or pieces to your space, such as a pool or pergola, this can affect where you might want to place a playset.

If you are purchasing a playset on the larger side, it’s not going to be something you’ll likely want to have to move, so try to get the big picture of your yard thought out in case there is something that would eventually go in the same place of a potential playset.

When considering which playset to purchase, think about the design. Intentionally-designed playsets can have a second life after kids grow older; some parents choose to convert playsets into gardening sheds or even gaming rooms for teens. 


Factors To Consider


Now that you’ve answered those few questions, there are some factors to consider that could also determine where you end up placing your children’s playset. Do you have plenty of backyard space, and is it flat or level enough? 


Is the Ground Level?


If you have the space for a playset in your backyard, but the ground is not level, you’ll need to do some work on leveling that space out. 

Luckily, in many cases, it’s possible to level a yard without the need for heavy machinery. 

If you are working with sod, here’s a quick summary on leveling:


  1. Mow the grass.
  2. Detach if needed.
  3. Create a top-dressing mixture of sand, topsoil, and compost.
  4. Fill in holes with the top-dressing mixture above.
  5. Thinly spread the mixture over the whole yard and rake it through (brooms can also come in handy).
  6. Turn on the sprinkler (but keep the kiddos from playing in them at this moment).
  7. Repeat any of the steps if the need arises.


However, sometimes we’ll notice the side yards are just much flatter and won’t require us to do much additional work. Here, it might be easier to use this spot (as long as it meets our other critical requirements). 


Are There Trees Nearby?


If there are trees in your yard, this may be another factor. Trees can offer critical protection from UV rays. According to research (when accounting for altitude and latitude), tree coverage can help minimize sun exposure and protect against burns.

The findings relieved that 50% tree coverage can take the time to sunburn from 20 minutes to 50 minutes. Even more impressively, a tree that blocks 90% of sunlight has the equivalent of 10 SPF sunblock

While playing or resting under trees is lovely, trees can pose a safety concern when playhouses are involved. Never put a playset under a tree; falling branches or other natural materials can pose a threat. Before installing a playset, check that no branches overhang above the structure or will likely grow over the structure. 


Are There Existing Lawn Furniture or Decorations?


Lastly, consider what other furniture or pieces you already have out there and how they may affect the flow and setup of the outside living space.

While items like lawn chairs and patio sets can be easily moved elsewhere, the below items may influence where your playset will live:


  • Picnic tables
  • Pools 
  • Volleyball/badminton nets
  • Gardens 
  • Fire pits

Backyard Set Up


Backyards are a wonderful space to watch your kids run around and play, as well as host get-togethers and birthday parties. 

If you are in the beginning stages of transforming your backyard, there are some things to consider when designing your outside living space. 

If there is something you might want to install in the future, then you are going to want to leave a fair amount of space outside for this project. Map out that area with chalk or yarn to ensure that the playset will still be as picture-perfect as the day you bought it, no matter what else you add to the yard. 


Ground Considerations: Build Up Safely


Fun playsets are safe playsets. Below are five essential aspects of your new backyard design to consider:


1. If there’s an area of your yard that tends to collect water, you might want to avoid installing your playset there. This area might be muddy, creating a mess that travels inside. Dry areas tend to be preferable.


2. Along with this, check that the ground is hard and makes for a solid foundation. If the soil underneath is very soft, this could cause issues for the playset. Heavier playsets could potentially sink into the ground, disrupting the lawn and tilting in a fashion unsafe for play.


3. Another factor to keep in mind is the distance between your yard and nearby streams or bodies of water. Placing playsets safe distances away from these natural or man-made elements is best. Standing bodies of water are best avoided, as they can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Additionally, water can be unsafe, even for children who know how to swim.


4. The ideal playset locations include those that can be easily maintained. Being able to effortlessly landscape around the playset, cut the grass, and keep it looking nice and new will make home upkeep a breeze.


5. Keeping your playset a safe distance from nearby roads is important for a number of reasons. If you happen to live on a main road, consider having the playset in the backyard if possible. If not, an adult caregiver should supervise all outdoor play. Even on sleepy cul-de-sacs, all front yard play should be carefully monitored by a trusted adult. 


Designs That Shine: Outdoor Aesthetics


Playsets can be made not only to be stimulating for growing minds but to be eye-catching and attractive in any outdoor space. 

However, if you want to amp up the design factor, we have a few suggestions here:


1. Flex your green thumb: Add plants and flowers around the side of your house, as well as near the playset, to brighten up the space and make that area come alive.


In terms of landscaping, some parents prefer to plant non-flowering plants near areas that children frequent to decrease the chance of a bee sting. Other ideas are to plant mosquitoes–repelling plants in areas with heavy foot traffic. Away from the hustle and bustle, add in some bee-supporting plants like daisies, honeysuckle, or goldenrod.


2. Supervise in style: Place some cute lawn chairs near the playset to provide seating for the adults in your family and any adults that come over to chat during your kids’ playdates.


3. Use a playground border: Different playground borders can extend the theme of your home to the outdoor sphere. Items like wood, rubber, or plastic borders can help separate the “play” area from the rest of the yard. This can help contain any mess, especially if the playground rests on wood chips, sand, or loose filler.  

Ultimately, finding what works for your family is what matters the most. 


Enjoy the Process

Designing a space for you and your family is creative and fun; try not to get stressed over the details and take the time to enjoy making something beautiful out of the area you’re working with.

Whether you choose your backyard, side yard, or front yard, there are some safety points to consider and suggestions to help make your space beautiful and thriving.

Grab your sunglasses, sketch pad, and invite your kids into the planning process and watch their creativity come to life!



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