Old-World Charm: Install a Tree Swing in your Backyard
No Electronics Needed
When you look out the window to your backyard, do you imagine the sound of laughter? Are you looking for a way to draw your children from their rooms and out the door into the beautiful spring weather?
If you’ve got a sturdy tree, installing a tree swing could be the perfect way to make your outdoor space more engaging and give your children a great option for contented self entertainment well into the hot summer months.
Before you begin, here are some tips to help you determine if you’ve got the right tree for your little ones to swing from.
A Kid-Proof Tree Swing
Is the tree sturdy? You’ll want a sturdy hardwood tree. A mature maple, oak, or sycamore will be strong enough to support any wild play your little ones can think up. Your pine tree may seem sturdy, but beware: they snap easily.
Is the branch sturdy? The ideal branch grows parallel to the ground and is thick: at least 8 inches in diameter. For safety, you should look for a living branch that is no more than 20 ft off the ground. It should be large enough that the swing can hang at least 3-5 feet away from the trunk with no bouncing.
How high should you go? The higher the limb, the longer the swing’s arc and the higher it can go. With a 6 to 10 ft swing, most kids can swing 5 or 6 feet above the ground.
Create a soft landing. Clear debris around the tree and remove any objects within 10 to 20 feet beyond the perimeter of the swing’s reach. Keep the ground beneath the swing nice and lush with soft grasses to cushion any falls.
A Tree-Friendly Tree Swing
Is the tree in good health? Inspect the roots. If any of the anchoring roots are exposed, check to see if they show any signs of damage. Compromised anchoring roots can mean toppling is possible. Inspect the trunk. Look for fungal growths or oozing. Look for any cracks, cavities, or missing bark. A healthy tree will have a healthy & intact trunk.
Inspect the branches. Take note of any signs of infestation, disease, splitting, or narrow connections to the main trunk. If your tree shows any questionable signs, a consultation with an arborist is in order.
If the tree looks healthy, throw a rope over the limb where you want to place your swing and pull down gently. If it passes the gentle load test, gradually increase the load and watch what happens. As the branch holds the weight, the tree should keep its general composure. Some bending is expected, but a lot of bending indicates that a swing may not be good for your tree.
The Dad Test
Before letting the kids loose on your new swing, do the Dad Test. This is the test where Dad or another adult risks their life to test the strength of the branch. If you already tested the weight as we discussed earlier, you won’t be really risking your life, but if you make it theatrical and let your kids watch, they’ll see how much of a hero you are!
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