When Jeff Barton, a local area father, was able to get a secondhand wooden swing set to rebuild in his yard, he decided to make it a family project. His kids were involved in the construction and absolutely loved lending a hand. Together, they built a playground with swings, monkey bars, a slide and a multi-level clubhouse. This set was made to last, and it has held up flawlessly for the last few years. Barton is not a skilled carpenter or handyman, but managed to construct this project from start to finish. His children will remember it forever while spending countless hours at play in the backyard.
Some businesses that sell playground equipment will not allow homeowners to build sets themselves due to liability issues. However, those who are able to acquire a set to build or rebuild as a family project, may want to keep a few tips in mind. Outlined below are the essentials for creating a backyard playground.
Inspect the Materials - If starting with previously used equipment, inspect the condition of the set. Make any necessary repairs before building. The structure needs to be sturdy, so add extra support to ensure it will hold. Consider what can be added to the pre-existing set to allow for more play options. If you choose to start with a new set, ask your children which types of equipment they enjoy the most. Purchase a set that encompasses all aspects you feel comfortable with. Monkey bars may be a good idea to your children, but chances are you have a more realistic grasp on their strength.
Know Your Kids’ Abilities - Smaller children will take pride in tasks like organizing and gathering materials. However, older children may be capable of handling larger responsibilities. Distribute roles according to each child’s strengths. One could be in charge of sketching some potential layouts. Another could be in charge of decorating, personalizing the set with fun colors and designs. Ask your children how they would like to contribute and decide if their desired roles are doable.
Ensure Safety – Safety is the biggest concern when building a play set. Make sure each role your child takes on is monitored by an adult. Furthermore, ensure the final play product is childproof. Purchase a flooring material designed to cushion the fall of children. Backyards vary in size. Consider where the set should go in order to allow enough room for safe play.
These local businesses may be able to help you get started:
10th Street Hardware
257 South 10th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Hours: Mon to Fri – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat – 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If your playground plans include restoring an older set, stop in at 10th Street Hardware to stock up on all tools needed for construction. Their employees are extremely helpful, so ask them for any recommendations.
2760 Concord Road
Aston, PA 19014
Hours: Mon to Sat – 9 a.m to 5 p.m., Sun – Closed
Rick’s Sheds provides all kinds of outdoor items, from gazebos to patio furniture to swing sets. Stop in to get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
5001 W Lincoln Highway
Parkesburg, PA 19365
Hours: Tues to Sat – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (April to August), Thurs to Sat – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (September to December)
Find some of the best play set options at F.A.M.I.L.I.E.S. Offering complimentary installation, let them get your set in place. Then customize it how you see fit to make it unique for your family.
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Samantha Sinclair is a freelance writer who lives in South Jersey. She has two boys who love “adventuring.” Her work can be found at Examiner.com.