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How To Buy A Wooden Playset For The Backyard

Updated on July 30, 2012

Our Backyard Wooden Play Set

This Landmark Defines My Backyard! Our Backyard Wooden Play Set
This Landmark Defines My Backyard! Our Backyard Wooden Play Set | Source

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was thirty-seven weeks pregnant with my second set of twins. My first set of twins was almost seventeen months old. I was spending quite a bit of time keeping two toddlers from heading to the street. I was exhausted.

That was the day they installed our Rainbow Play Set.

I have never regretted the large price tag associated with our purchase.

We didn’t come upon this wooden play system quickly. We did quite a bit of research. We priced out a vinyl fence first. We considered corralling the group. The price was comparable to a large, wooden play set. Instead of containing the kids, we decided to lure them from the street.

But, which system to buy?

How do you buy a wooden play set for the backyard?

Neighborhood Restrictions

We live in a neighborhood with an association and restrictions. We are not permitted to install metal play gyms. Our only option was the wooden play set. Double check before you purchase and violate a neighborhood rule.

Number of Children and Ages

Consider how many children you have or plan to have and their ages. You want a play set that is accessible immediately, yet will ultimately challenge the children. We installed our play gym with stairs and a bar ladder. The stairs are not challenging now, but the seventeen month old boys could easily scale the stairs and use the slide day one. The rock wall and bar ladder challenged them starting at age two to two and a half.

We also installed an over sized platform. It added an additional 2 feet to the length and one foot to the width of the main platform.

We knew we would always have a minimum of four children on our play system.

A-Frame Play Set With Monkey Bars and Penthouse

A-Frame Play Set With Monkey Bars and Penthouse
A-Frame Play Set With Monkey Bars and Penthouse | Source

Slope and Size Of The Yard

The systems that we reviewed have two styles: those with a flat base (often with a sandbox or picnic table) and those on an A frame. Flat based systems must have a flat yard. Our yard has a slope. Therefore, we were limited to systems that accommodating the slope. Extender beams could also need to be purchased to ensure that the play set is level in the backyard.

Size of the yard is critical. The play set should not consume all playable area in your yard. Additionally, understand easement rules. In our neighborhood, easement rules state that any structure can not be within two feet of your property line or sidewalk. Understand exactly how much room you have and how much room your are willing to donate to your play set.

Stability and Durability Of A Wooden Play Set

We wanted a play gym that an adult could climb or swing on as well. We have seen somewhere the weight of an adult can cause beams to sway or even torque. We tested the systems before we purchased. We weren’t looking for a play gym that only toddlers would play on. This was an investment that we intended to use for a minimum of ten to fifteen years.

Benefits of Cedar and Redwood Play Sets

Benefits of Cedar and Redwood Play Sets
Benefits of Cedar and Redwood Play Sets | Source

Type of Wood On A Wooden Play Set

Common woods used for wooden play are cedar and redwoods. Others are made of treated pine. Cedar and redwoods are stronger, more environmentally friendly, but tend to be more expensive. Treated pine systems are less expensive, but also less stable. We chose a cedar/redwood system, paying more, but also gaining stability of the overall structure.

Expand Your Play Set With New Swings Or Even A Basketball Hoop

Another Play set option: A basketball hoop
Another Play set option: A basketball hoop | Source

Ability to Expand and Number of Components of a Wooden Play Set

Some play systems can be expanded. We chose a system that had level one, two, three, four and five. Level one included a platform and slide. Level two added swings. Level three included monkey bars. Level four added a penthouse. Level five added a tornado slide to the penthouse.

Our initial system began as a level two. Two years ago, we upgraded to a level four. Adding the penthouse and monkey bars were like installing a new play gym. They kids were ecstatic!

We started with bucket swings and moved onto sling swings as the kids were older. We installed a foot swing last year as well. My children feel in love with a basketball hoop on our last visit to the showroom.

The ability to add and upgrade the system is endless.

Consider Safety When Purchasing a Play Set: Strong Hinges

Strong hinges and chains for your swings
Strong hinges and chains for your swings | Source

Safety Features of a Wooden Play Set

Consider the slide, the swings, hand railings, hinges and other safety features. We installed a scoop slide so the children could not fall off the side without climbing over. Our hinges on the swings and bars are very sturdy. Our swings are installed with heavy chains, not ropes. Our stairs and ladder have hand rails on both sides. Our rock wall has a mounted rope up the middle of the wall as well.

Maintenance of a Wooden Play Set

Wooden play sets require attention to maintain their appearance. See if additional paint and/or stain can be included in your base price. We use a deck stain on our play set every two years.

Resale Value Of A Wooden Play Set

You get what you pay for. You might even be able to resell for a reasonable percentage of the initial cost if you buy a well-made system. I have had friends buy used play systems for over $2000. Consider the return on investment when your children outgrow your play set.

Why Invest In A Wooden Play Set?

The Benefits of a wooden play set
The Benefits of a wooden play set

Cost of a Wooden Play Set

Cost is the deciding factor on most large purchases. The cost of a quality wooden play system can begin just over $1000 and easily approach up to $10,000. Carefully consider your budget when choosing a system.

The Priceless Value Of A Wooden Playset

Purchasing a wooden play set is an investment in your children’s health. My children play on our play gym nearly every day. In the winter, the slide has snow mounded at the bottom and is used for sledding. In the summer, we attach a hose and it becomes a water slide. Our wooden play set is affectionately named the beach house. They eat lunch in the beach house. They read books. They watch movies. They pretend to have camp outs.

I cringe that there will be a day that my children are too old to play on our play system.

Our wooden play set will be just like The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.

It will think fondly about all the years it spent holding up and swinging with my children.

It will be proud of the healthy adults it helped create, but it will miss them just the same.

Do You Own A Wooden Play Set?

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    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Cheds! My kids love our play set and I am so pleased that we have a yard to have one! It would be devastating to buy something large to find you are in violation! Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment!

    • Cheds profile image

      Heather Henley 

      8 years ago from Buckfield, Maine

      Awesome hub! I'm really glad you included checking with your neighborhood restrictions. I think that's something most people would overlook when considering buying something like this. And it could get important really quick.

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      My kids do have an amazing play set, but they also play on it. I am sure your pony stables were pretty cool, though, hildred! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • hildred profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Man, what I wouldn't have given to have one of these things growing up! I always loved these things but could never get one at my house as a kid. Had to content myself with making my little pony stables out of mowed grass :P Jealous of your kids!


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