Nothing Amps Up Backyard Fun Like These Wooden Swing Sets
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With technology becoming increasingly accessible to younger generations, parents are struggling to get their kids to disconnect from their iPads or computers. After spending a good 8 hours between school and homework, some kids just refuse to let the tech go and take a much-needed screentime break.
Encourage your kids to put down the video games and experience fresh air and sunshine by gifting them a fun wooden swing set. When they head outside to play, you'll also get some peace and quiet inside the house and maybe a chance to catch up on those emails. It's also one of those gifts that grandparents could give that make a huge impact. Grands live far away? They'll always think of you when they get on it.
There are just so many benefits for kids being and playing outside. Board-certified pediatrician and Bug Bite Thing Medical Advisor, Dr. Mona Amin tells Best Products, "Being outdoors allows for Vitamin D exposure which can help with bone development and our immune system. It fosters all domains of development and sensory play," and that helps their mental and cognitive skills. Amin notes that "By being outdoors, your children are touching grass, dirt, trees, perhaps playing with a ball or other toys, and feeling the way nature feels on their skin and encourages them to interact with nature," and the impact cannot be overstated.
Best Wooden Swing Sets
What to Consider
There are a few key things you need to consider before you buy a wooden swing set: price, materials, assembly, design, and size. You want a wooden swing set that fits your budget, as well as your yard, and if you’re putting it together, you want the instructions to be clear and concise. Otherwise, you’re going to want the option to have it assembled for you.
Retailers like Lowe’s have professional installers available — but generally, installation can cost a few hundred dollars, with some larger, more complex sets costing upwards of $500 to install. Alternatively, there are many local and regional landscapers that can conveniently assemble it for you. As you might have assumed, the more complex the swing set, the more time it takes to put together. I once built a fairly large set from KidKraft, and it took five people about 8 hours to put together. Every swing set on this list is from a company that makes sets that come with easy-to-follow instructions that are also downloadable if they get lost.
According to Kristin McCormick, a representative from Backyard Discovery (the manufacturer of our “Best Overall” choice), you need to take into consideration that the swingset cannot be any less than 6 or 7 feet from another structure, placed on a level surface to avoid tipping, and not on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
There's a pretty wide range of sizes when it comes to any kind of backyard equipment, but finding the best wooden swing set for your space, consider the fact that like Ms McCormick stated, you need at least a space seven feet larger than the footprint of the swing set on all sides. Also, height is something to consider as well. These can get pretty tall, which may not work if it's too close to trees or power lines. And it should never be placed near a pool. There should be a fence and clear separation between a pool and swing set and ample space between each if you have a pool.
While many families choose to keep their wooden swing set over a grassy surface, Backyard Discoveries and most other manufacturers I spoke with suggested that you add a layer of soft fill under the set after assembly, stretching at least seven feet in every direction from the largest part of the set. That soft surface could be a variety of products ranging from soft mulch to pebble gravel to ground up recycled tires. That is an additional cost, and not a small one. The average price for ground cover to fill a playground is about $500.
How We Chose
Many of the swing sets have been tested by either my own children, or they have been sent to testers, and tested in real-life situations. If the build instructions weren't clear, the structure didn't feel stable, the attachments felt flimsy or the quality wasn't up to Best's standards overall, the swing set didn't make the cut.
The swing sets chosen for this article are all well-crafted, innovative designs with a variety of sizes and configurations suited for children from ages 3 to 11. I caution you that if you see one you love, don’t hesitate, because wooden swing sets sell out quickly in the summer months, to the point where this list is routinely being updated and evaluated.
A Note on Safety
Each one of these playground sets follows the mandatory American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standards for backyard play set use. These standards are designed to make sure that structures are sound and can handle play from average use.
Sterling Point All Cedar Wooden Swing Set
Yes, this is a big set, and it’s not cheap — however, this set is one of the best I have ever seen, assembled, or interacted with. Also, the directions were the clearest I have read, and that’s saying something as assembling baby goods is a huge part of my job.
It has a 5-foot-tall climbing wall, and a 5-foot tall rock wall with 12 rock foot-and-hand holds. The blown-plastic slide feels substantial, and not like some that feel like they could warp or crack.
The playhouse with lookouts is more-than-generously-sized. In fact, it’s large enough for a disc swing to hang beneath it, which is great for swinging, but even better for summertime reading and even a little nap. It comes with two additional traditional swings and a hanging swing, all of which have a rubber coating over the chain to protect little fingers.
Our testers could not get over how strangely uncomplicated it was for such a tremendous product. On top of that, their littles haven’t stopped playing on it no matter the weather. They had to implement a “If it rains, come inside” rule.
More: These Outdoor Toys Will Have Them Forgetting All About Their Electronics
Skyfort II Residential Wood Playset with Slide
If you have a big backyard, and a bigger family or friend groups? Giving your kids this swing set will instantly make you parent of the year.
It’s a super-sized set with a clubhouse and a lower area for play, two traditional swings, a trapeze bar, a slide, a sandbox, and monkey bars. The lookout from the side of the clubhouse was a hit with our testers who have made that their very own “pirate’s nest.” I hope to one day head over and see Stede Bonnet ready for action, given how much they go on about it.
Another one of the tiny testers is a particular fan of how much shade the sandbox gets, because where they live can get oppressively hot, and that's a nice reprieve from the blistering Southern sun. The green slide doesn't heat up to unslidable temperatures until the mercury really climbs.
It's a beast to put together, and I would suggest at least three to four adults should be involved. Alternatively, chuck in for Lowe's assembly, and make everything that much easier for yourself. It's an intense, days-long build.
Appleton Wooden Swing Set/Playset with Swings
Sometimes, the best wooden swing sets are the simplest. This is a great budget pick, and a great choice if you don't have a huge yard. It's also wonderful for smaller kids.
It has two swings, a climbing ladder with rock holds, a lookout house, and a slide. It took a friend of mine and me 3 hours to put this one together, and we felt about as accomplished as if we'd just run the New York City marathon in under 3 hours.
Her sons were on it and having a great time the very next morning. They've even somehow taught their golden retriever to climb the ladder and go down the slide with them. Not the stated purpose of the KidKraft set, but not unexpected given how silly goldens are and how ridiculous 3- and 4-year-old boys are. I expect them to figure out the bubble solution = extremely fast slide trick pretty soon. They're wily.
Treasure Trove I Wood Swing Set with Green Vinyl Canopy
This wooden swing set and jungle gym was purchased by a summer camp that I have ties with, and when they asked me to help assemble it, how could I not? It is the hardest and largest one I've ever built, but the multitudinous features more than makes up for the manpower required to build it. It's a three-level, two-slide (once a tube slide) multi-climbing feature paradise for kids.
It has two traditional swings, one trapeze bar, climbing ropes, a climbing wall, ladder, picnic table, suspension bridge with safety net surround, and areas below for a possible sandbox.
I was dubious about the canopies, as they come in a very compact case, but they're incredibly strong and durable. Imagine the toughest outdoor tent you've encountered, now make it green — that is the cover of this set.
It is a spend, but for big families, gifts to camps, churches, synagogues, or to have at Grandma and Grandpa’s, this is an incredible value that will last for years and years.
Pine Hill Wooden Swing Set
Your children will never be at a loss for activities with this set by Natus Inc. It features a cool rocker swing, two traditional swings, monkey bars, a wave slide, and a large playhouse with solid wood finishes.
Made with Scandinavian fir, this swing set is extra durable, and thanks to the solid steel joints, and blown-plastic slide, your kids won’t wreck it right out of the box.
Tanglewood Residential Wood Playset
We love Backyard Discovery's solid cedar and steel construction, along with the sturdy molded plastic slides, handles, and swings.
This set has a fairly compact safety zone of 27 feet, yet it offers a vast range of activities: a playhouse, bench, two-person swing, two additional swings, a lookout, a 6-foot-tall slide, and a shaded area beneath the playhouse with a serving window.
Highpoint Residential Wood Playset
It's impossible for a child to get bored with this wooden swing set — there's just so much going on. A punching bag, climbing wall, tic-tac-toe game, slide, ladder, lookout, and three different swings comprise this beast of a play set.
The footprint is smaller, at 18 by 8 feet, so you can use it for a smaller location, a boon to those of us with smaller yards. Made of durable hardwood, blown plastic, and UPF canvas, Gorilla Play sets are built to last — although we do suggest bringing in the punching bag in the winter.
Captain's Fort Residential Wood Playset
Two words: slide races. And those slides are a staggering nine feet long. The whole thing is pretty grand, to be honest. The climbing wall is almost vertical, the swings are well-separated, and the two-level playhouse is intricately detailed.
The footprint is a little bit larger, as you would expect from such a dynamic wooden swing set. It's over 21x8 feet and taller than 10 feet. The solid cedar construction and steel joints give this set lasting durability. However, there are a ton of parts to this bad boy, so make sure you have plenty of friends willing to help put it together or have the pros from Lowe’s do it for you.
Avalon Swing Set With Wood Roof
You'll love how much play happens in this wooden play set's compact 27-square-foot footprint. Gorilla play sets are known for their quality, durability, and innovation in design. This set manages to have a wave slide, a climbing wall, two swings, a hanging bar, and a playhouse in an area not much bigger than your average bedroom.
The solid wood and vinyl-covered-steel construction of the swing set lets you know that this will take everything from desert heat to a Great Lakes winter with no problems.
Ranger Wooden Swing Set
If you know your kids might grow out of their jungle-gym phase fairly quickly, or you just don't have the space for a big one, this simple wooden swing set is the perfect choice. The kids can spend a few hours swinging back and forth during the day, and Mom and Dad can sneak on at night for stargazing.
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