On beautiful spring days like today, I’m so thankful for being able to go into my backyard and play with my daughters on their wooden playset from Backyard Discovery. It’s become part of our daily routine. “Can I go play outside?” has replaced “Can I watch TV?” as the most-asked question in our household. We’ve only had the playset for a couple of weeks, but it’s already brought us so much joy and countless hours of fun!
In the market for a new playset? Backyard Discovery created ‘PLAY SAFELY,’ an acronym which outlines 10 points to consider when researching and shopping for outdoor playsets. It’s a must-read if you’re thinking about buying a playset for your kids. Also, don’t miss the special discount at the end of this post!
Placement – Determine where in your yard you want to place the playset before making a purchase. There should be at least a six-foot perimeter surrounding it to prevent kids from swinging, jumping or falling into or onto something dangerous. Loose fill materials like mulch, wood chips or reground plastic should be placed under the playset to minimize any falls. Children should always be supervised when playing on a playset which is why the structure should be placed where parents can constantly monitor children’s activities. For instance, I’m usually outside with the girls, but if I have to go inside to make dinner, I can watch them play from both the family room and kitchen. There’s also a strategically-placed mirror against one of the walls that reflects a window, so that I can see them from every angle.
Lumber – Look for a naturally decay and weather resistant lumber like cedar when purchasing a playset. Cedar is also a natural insect repellent and blends well with any backyard. Look for playsets that have a water-based stain that is both environmentally safe and kid-friendly. Other materials on the market, like lumber that has been chemically treated, are not as family- or eco-friendly.
Assembly – Playsets come packaged differently and it’s important to consider assembly options before choosing a playset. Ask yourself – should the playset be hand-built? Will the lumber be hand-picked and the playset built with a kit? Or will it come ‘Ready to Assemble’? The best and easiest-to-assemble units are labeled ‘Ready to Assemble’ which means they are pre-cut, pre-stained and pre-drilled with all of the hardware and accessories pre-packed. Some of the parts of the Backyard Discovery sets even come stamped with numbers so that you can easily sort the pieces and figure out what goes where.
Your Wallet – Most playsets are built to last no matter their price tag. However, you should determine what you’re willing to spend before heading to your local playset dealer. On the market are large, full-featured playsets that retail for $2,000 and up, as well as very good quality cedar playsets that retail for as little as $399. A playset is something a family will cherish for years so before making a final decision, make sure the investment will pay off and the set will grow with your family…. it should be a set that your kids will grow into, not out of.
Safety Railings – Creating a safe, fun play environment means safety features must be put in place during assembly. Check that all elevated surfaces, such as platforms, have guardrails and that sit down bars are in place above the slides. Most quality sets will have an arched entrance area to protect little noggins but be sure to look for this feature before purchasing.
Anchoring – After installing a playset, make sure the entire structure is firmly anchored to avoid tipping. Many first-time playset buyers think that very large playsets anchor themselves. The truth is, if a playset is not properly anchored, multiple swinging children can create a dangerous situation that could have easily been avoided.
Features – Customizing a playset for your family is the fun part! Ask yourselves a few questions: Do you need an infant swing? Or do a two person glider so you can push two children at once? Accessories like a buoy ball, rock wall, or ship’s wheel create a fun play experience for all children. The beauty of most quality playsets is that accessories can be added following the initial playset purchase. See some of the features available for Backyard Discovery playsets by visiting www.swingsetsonline.com.
Everyone Plays – Playsets should provide kids with a play area that is developmentally appropriate so consider the ages of the children who will be playing on the set. The size of the playset should depend on how many children will play it, as well. Consider how many swings and how many play features will be required to create a fun and safe play environment for all.
Lifetime Warranty – It’s important to know exactly what type of warranty is being offered and what the playset company will cover. Is it a five year warranty or lifetime warranty? Will the warranty last if the playset is properly maintained? Playsets should last for the long haul, so a warranty with long-term protection is essential.
Yearly Maintenance – Preventative playset maintenance is a must for keeping kids safe and making sure a warranty lasts. Wood shrinks and expands with changes in weather, so tightening any loose supports, anchors, bolts and screws every season is a must. Missing nuts, bolts and protective caps should be replaced. Following manufacturer’s directions, playsets should be periodically sealed, stained and painted to prevent deterioration. Taking these small steps toward a safer play area can make a big difference when it comes to long-term safety.
A special discount!
Backyard Discovery has provided me with a 15% discount to share with you all! Code: byd blogher
It’s valid on all the products Backyard Discovery sells on their website – www.swingsetsonline.com. Enter the code at checkout; be sure to include the space in the middle. Whether you’re looking for a backyard picnic table, a fun playhouse, want to surprise your kids with a new playset, or buy accessories for the one you already have, you can find a great selection of products at affordable prices, many with free shipping! Some items are only available in stores, so make sure you look for the “Buy Online” button. For instance, I found that 7 of the 15 wooden playsets are available for purchase from the website. The discount is also valid on the Oasis Garden from Backyard Botanical – a completely self-contained backyard garden – and it’s on sale! This special code is only good until May 7th, 2010, so you must take advantage of it soon. Let me know if you have any questions!
Disclosure: As part of an ongoing relationship, Backyard Discovery provided my family with the wooden playset pictured above, and will be covering my BlogHer ’10 conference expenses.