A Beginner’s Guide to Outdoor Playsets: 4 Tips For Any First-time Owner
What was one of your favorite childhood activities?
One of mine was playing on the mammoth wooden playset at the community park. I remember chasing my friends through the walkways, having competitions crossing the jungle gym, and creating fantastic imaginary worlds in which the playset towers became castles, the slide a getaway ramp, and the swings airplanes.
Ah, the imagination!
If there was one thing I wanted for my backyard, it was a playset.
In this guide by Ebyland, we’ll explore several benefits of owning a playset, four tips for purchasing and installing your playset, and more.
Let’s jump right in!
The Benefits of Owning a Playset
While you could always take your kids to the neighborhood park to play outside, owning your own playset come with numerous benefits.
1 - Designated Play Space
Playsets are all about giving your kids a space for good, wholesome fun! Kids are, by nature, very imaginative creatures and can do a lot with very little. (Every parent has experienced it--you buy them expensive toys, and they play with sticks and mud!) However, a playset provides a designated playspace that elevates children’s experiences by giving them a framework on which to build their alternate universes.
Having a designated play space offers parents a place to redirect their children’s energy that could otherwise be disruptive or get them into trouble. For example, when the children are becoming restless indoors, the parent can specifically redirect them to the playset rather than simply saying, “Go play outside.”
A designated play space like a playset also allows you to give your children more independence, especially when they are younger. If you know your children are in a safe play space, you won’t need to monitor them as closely.
2 - Health
Providing kids with an outdoor play space increases the time they spend outdoors, which has a whole host of benefits. There are many health benefits of outdoor play for children because, while a playset doesn’t guarantee outdoor recreation, it dramatically encourages it.
It's crucial that kids play so they can develop, both physically and emotionally, into healthy adults. It's important to note that while certain developments might be more crucial at different ages, the health benefits of play are essential throughout a person's entire childhood.
Here is a sampling of the many health benefits:
- Learning appropriate risk-taking
- Engage in imaginative play (crucial for mental development)
- Learn to problem-solve
- Language development
- Increased coordination, muscular strength, and cardiovascular health
- Promote the development of social skills like empathy, collaboration, and communication
In addition to your child’s health, a playset can also benefit you as a parent. Playing on your playset with your children promotes a secure parent-child connection and gives you some physical exercise as well!
3 - Add Home Value
A quality playset is not only an investment in your children, but it can also add to your home’s value. The exact increase varies significantly and depends on many factors, like playset placement/condition and the location of your property.
Some factors of incorporating a playset, like increased curb appeal and convenience for families with kids, are sure to help boost your home's value. However, because of the many factors that influence the relationship between playsets and home value, it's best to understand this benefit as a bonus rather than as a definitive reason to purchase a playset.
4 - Social Opportunity
Owning your own playset gives both you and your children social opportunities. It gives you a safe space to host playdates with friends and neighbors. This allows your children to develop and hone their social skills while you get to talk to old friends or make new ones!
Additionally, a playset is a really great, easy way to hang out with your own kids. If you have a playset, you basically just have to be out there, stay engaged, and your kids will take care of the rest. And you don't have to pull all of the fun ideas out of your own head.
Plus, you can push them on the swings, play drive-thru in the clubhouse, catch them coming down the slide, etc. It's a great time for your kids with minimal effort from you!
Now that we’ve discussed a few benefits of owning a playset, let’s go over three tips for any first-time playset owner.
Tip 1: Playset Features to Look For
There’s no way around it – A high-quality playset will be a big investment. But it's 100% worth it. While a cheap playset may seem less expensive up front, you will likely end up spending more in the long run with replacement/upkeep costs or playground injuries.
If you are going to invest a lot of money, you want to make sure you buy a quality product. But not all playsets have equal quality.
So how do you figure out if a playset is actually good quality?
Here are four features you’ll want to look for to ensure you get a quality playset worth your investment.
Vinyl and wood are the two most common materials used for quality personal playsets. Both of these materials have pros and cons regarding durability and upkeep.
Wooden playsets tend to start at a lower price point than vinyl. They also tend to be heavier, making them well-suited for older, heavier kids. However, they can be more challenging to set up and require consistent maintenance.
Vinyl playsets are built with lumber covered in vinyl. The lumber frame means they are sturdy, like a wooden playset, while the vinyl covering eliminates the decay concerns that come with wood construction. Vinyl playsets are exceptionally low maintenance and highly customizable.
Safety & Design
High-quality playsets are designed with safety in mind. There are several ways to determine this; one of the most obvious is the Grab and Shake Test. If the playset wobbles or feels top-heavy when you shake it, don’t purchase it. Poor-quality playsets are often too lightweight or top-heavy, which creates huge safety hazards. After all, your kids will be climbing all over this structure!
I remember playing with friends on one such swingset. My friend warned me not to swing too high, so the set wouldn’t fall over. Being a child and more focused on fun than safety, I still swung heartily, and the playset took a little hop with each swing. Thankfully, it didn’t fall, and neither of us was injured. But as an adult looking back, I realize how bad the situation could have been.
Other safety and design features to check for are handrails, access railings, hand bars, and lower deck railings.
We all know that as kids grow, their interests and skill levels change. And so do the safety measures that need to be in place. Because of this, it's best to get a playset that can adapt as your kids grow.
And the best way to do this?
Buy a playset with multiple features that you can swap out or expand as your children grow. For example, a swing set where a baby swing can be swapped for a full-sized one or a playset that has an adjustable height.
A quality playset should come with some kind of warranty. However, the length of the warranty and what it covers will vary from company to company. Be sure to read the warranty carefully so you know what is covered.
At Ebyland, we offer warranties of up to 20 years on our playsets.
Tip 2: Shipping, Moving, & Setting up a Playset
Delivery and Set-up
Playset shipping and delivery vary depending on what company you purchase from. In most cases, you will need to assemble the playset upon arrival.
Some companies only offer curbside delivery, which means you'll be responsible for unloading and assembling the playset yourself. This can prove to be stressful and is often more work than its worth.
For a stress-free delivery and set-up, purchase from a company that will deliver and install the playset for you. This simplifies the process and ensures the playset is set up correctly (which could be necessary for warranty purposes).
For the best results, set up your playset on a fairly level spot. If your yard is hilly or just uneven, you’ll need to level an area for the playset. If you’re the handy type and don’t mind hard work, you can level the ground for your playground yourself with a level, rake, and shovel. If your yard is too uneven, hiring a landscaper to level an area for you will probably be best.
There are a few factors to consider when setting up your playset. First, if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, double-check for any guidelines about where your playset can be placed. It's fairly common for homeowner’s associations to have guidelines about how close a playset can be to the following:
- Pools or water features
- Electrical wires and clotheslines
- Property lines
- Your home
Another good rule of thumb is to install your playset within easy sight of your home. This way, you can easily provide some supervision from the house.
Choose a shady spot if possible. This lessens the chance of sunburns and scorching slides and swing seats. It will also increase your kids' chances of playing outside, even on warm sunny days.
Tip 3: Safety
Safety and fun should go hand-in-hand when it comes to a playset. Here are a few common safety concerns and how to avoid them.
Splinters are a safety concern with wood playsets. I remember running to my mom with splinters from playsets many times as a child! Properly maintaining a wood playset is vital to decreasing the chance of splinters.
Vinyl playsets are also a great way to eliminate this concern since they have no exposed wood.
To mitigate the risk of falls, make sure your playset is an age-appropriate height and has proper railings. It's a good practice to check railings for safety if your playset is reaching the end of its warranty or you purchased one second-hand.
Another way to mitigate the harm of falls is to install a cushioning base around your playset. There are several options to choose from, but these are our top three options:
- Rubber mulch: Six inches can absorb falls from up to ten feet. Its initial cost is higher than wood mulch, but it lasts longer and is lower maintenance.
- Wood mulch: An aesthetically pleasing option, nine inches can absorb falls of up to seven feet. Wood mulch is fairly low-cost and readily available but does require more upkeep.
- Poured Rubber or Rubber Tiles: This is the best option if you are concerned about handicapped accessibility. It's vital that you purchase from a company that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
To decrease the risk of sunburn, place your playset in a shaded or partially shaded area. Choose colors for your playset and ground padding that reflect heat rather than absorb it.
Also, remember to wear sunscreen on your kids to protect them!
Tip 4: Incorporating a Playset Into Your Landscaping
Let’s wrap this up with a few tips on incorporating your playset into your landscaping. After all, your kids won't care what it looks like, but you want it to look nice and not be an eyesore!
First, choose colors that complement the colors of your home and fit your aesthetic. Here are a few examples:
- White or cool-toned siding = blue-white or green-white
- Warm-toned siding = green-almond or almond-yellow-red
- Traditional style home = wood grain-green or wood grain-red
Second, purchase a correctly sized playset for your yard. This is especially important if you have a small space. You don’t want a swingset that overwhelms your yard and other landscaping.
Finally, placing a playset near other outbuildings or too close to your house is less aesthetically pleasing. It's also not a good idea to put your playset near flowerbeds as that ups the chances of your plants and shrubs getting damaged by rough play or even uprooted for pretend adventures!
Playsets are a valuable addition to a home and have many benefits for children and parents too!
At Ebyland, we aim to provide the highest quality playsets that will benefit your family for years. Our playsets are versatile and customizable to your space and children’s interests. If you’re unsure of what design you want, use our free design tool that enables you to see and explore the options!
We offer other outdoor living supplies too, which include: