How to Choose the Right Swingset for Your Kids

Finding a Swingset to Fit Your Budget and Backyard

One of the first practical considerations when choosing the right swingset for your kids is making sure that it will fit in your yard. For safety reasons, you need a relatively flat space free of overhanging tree branches or obstacles like rocks or logs. Measure the total square footage of the available space.

When you are shopping for swingsets, play close attention to the dimensions of the equipment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends a barrier of 6 feet (1.8 meters) between all playground equipment and structures like homes or fences. If you have a swing, note the height of the swing's crossbar. The CPSC recommends a safety buffer zone of twice that height in all directions [source: Consumer Product Safety Commission].

Now let's talk price. The right swingset can provide years of entertainment value, so it's reasonable to spend more than the bare minimum on playground equipment. That said, every family budget has its limits, and paying the electric bill should always take precedent over a 12-foot (3.6-meter) deck with a zip line.

The least expensive swingsets are made of metal or plastic and can be purchased at big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target for less than $150. For that price, you can get a metal Flexible Flyer model with a 6-foot (1.8 meter) plastic slide, three regular swings, a two-seated "glider" and a seesaw. This type of swingset is designed for younger kids — there's a weight limit of 105 pounds (47.6 kilograms) per swing — so it might get left behind as kids grow older. We should also note that the CPSC issued a recall of certain Flexible Flyer models in 2012 because the seesaw seats fell off [source: CPSC].

If you are buying a metal swingset, make sure it is constructed from galvanized steel with a rust-resistant paint [source: Gleisner].

Wooden swingsets are pricier, with the simplest models for younger children starting as low as $300 to multistory wooden wonderlands that retail for more than $15,000 [source: B.E.A.R. of PA]. Higher quality wooden swingsets are usually constructed from redwood or cedar because of their strength and natural resistance to rot [source:].

The advantage of many wooden swingsets is their modular construction, allowing you to expand or accessorize the play set as the kids grow older. Note that if you're considering one of the larger and more complicated wooden swingsets, you may want to pay extra for professional installation. Even experienced builders require 12 to 24 hours to assemble one of these monsters, so imagine how long it would take you [source: Gleisner].

Now let's talk about one of the most important considerations when choosing a swingset: safety.