Best Swing Sets for Small Yards (Safest Options)

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

Swing sets and play sets are the life of every neighborhood. Playing is a vital part of children's happiness, which is important for society. For this reason, I have been paying attention to the swing sets my kids use, and I have noticed good things that set a good play set apart. So, what are the best swing sets for small yards?

What is a Swing Set?

Image Source: backyardfunfactory.com

A swing set is a frame with multiple playing parts for kids to enjoy playtime. For example, the swing set has swings, slides, a climbing rope, a climbing wall, a play telescope, a tunnel slide, and more.

Best Play Set

1) Lifetime Adventure Playset

Lifetime Big Stuff Adventure Play set
  • Fun free standing playset for kids aged 3-12; includes 9 foot...
  • Constructed of high-density polyethylene and powder-coated steel;...
  • Designed for safety; hard edges are rounded or covered with...
  • Total area of unit is 13' 11" x 15' 9"
  • Free Standing; no cement or anchoring required; backed by a...

As the name suggests, this swing set lasts very long. In my first apartment, my firstborn used this swing set with his friends, and for years, the swing set looked as good as new. The 9-foot wavy slide on the set is long enough for maximum fun.

Image Source: lowes.com

The set has powder-coated steel and polyethylene frames and parts that are durable and weatherproof. All the edges are rounded and are a safe option for kids.

Pros:

  • Age range between 5 and 12
  • Designed for safety
  • Safe and strong
  • Fun parts
  • Great for small yards
  • Attached swing beam

Cons:

  • Plastic parts are not environmentally friendly.

2) Lifetime Tunnel Swing Set

Lifetime 290704 Adventure Tunnel Swing Set, Earthtone
  • Two Climbing Ladders and One Rope Ladder to Reach Platforms;...
  • Includes 2 Swings with Rubber Grips; Clubhouse with Hardtop Roof
  • Steering Wheel; Three Interactive Climbing Walls; Integrated Car...
  • Hard Edges are Rounded or Covered with Plastic Caps
  • Free-Standing – No Need for Cement; Passes Playground...

The lifetime monkey bar adventure play set is the latest addition to our playing ground, and I see kids flocking to it. The play set has two climbing ladders and a tunnel that connects both ends of the play set.

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The swing set is easy to move around as it is free-standing without the need to cement it to the ground.

Pros:

  • No need for ground anchors
  • Versatile swing sets for small yards
  • Rubber grips for sweaty hands
  • Rounded edges

Cons:

  • Relatively small

3) Creative Playthings Wooden Swing Set

Creative Playthings Eastport Wooden Swing Set (Made in...
  • One 15 x 12 x 10 ft Creative Playthings Playtime Series Eastport...
  • Kids outdoor swing set featuring a climbing wall for kids, 2...
  • Sturdy wood playset made from Southern Yellow Pine with rugged...
  • Classic wooden playground design looks great in any backyard,...
  • For residential use only. 524 lbs. Made in the USA and comes with...

Creative Playthings is the swing set at my kids' aunts' place, and they keep asking me to take them there. The swing set looks good and has wooden parts, which is a rare thing on swing sets today. The swing sets have many versatile parts that can accommodate a lot of games and activities to keep the kids entertained the whole time.

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The swing set is easy to assemble and takes a few hours. The climbing wall is my favorite part of the swing set. The swing set has two swings, a play deck, a wavy slide, a trapeze bar, and more.

Pros:

  • Wooden swing sets
  • Good looking
  • A mixture of wooden, plastic, and metal parts to maximize the materials
  • Sturdy frame
  • Versatile design

Cons:

  • Restricted to home use

4) Backyard Discovery Swing Set

Backyard Discovery, Cedar Cove Wood Swing Set,...
  • LONG LASTING, WITHSTANDS IN SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS: Why Cedar?...
  • Dual Slides: Unique combinations is what we aim for. The Cedar...
  • Play Pretend: The upper fort area includes a sun porch, telescope...
  • Swing Safely: Kids love to swing and our cedar cove has that...
  • Safety Features: We put safety first by using flat step ladders...

If you have limited space, Backyard Discovery is the play set to go for if there is not much space in the backyard. The set allows kids to pursue physical activities successfully without the risk of injury. The swing set is the one my kids use in school, and with time, I understand why the school chose the set because the kids never want to leave the playground every time we play.

Image Source: backyarddiscovery.com

The set has two slides, and one slide is a tunnel slide. The set further has a play-pretend set with kitchen features and plastic foods. In addition, there is a seating area in the play-pretend section.

Pros:

  • Versatile with different games
  • Two slides
  • Play-pretend area
  • Three swings
  • Great for small backyards
  • Sun porch
  • Rockwall included

Cons:

  • Wooden parts need a lot of maintenance.

5) Creative Playthings Set

Creative Playthings Northbridge Pack 2 Wooden Swing Set...
  • One 22 x 12 x 11 ft Creative Playthings Classic Series...
  • Kids outdoor swing set featuring 2 sling swings, a ring trapeze...
  • Sturdy wood playset made from Southern Yellow Pine with rugged...
  • Classic wooden playground design looks great in any backyard...
  • For residential use only. 787 lbs. Made in the USA and comes with...

Image Source: kidwiseusa.com

There are very few swing sets that work for 2-year-olds. Creative Playthings has an age range of 2-12 years old which is a rare thing to find on swing sets. With four swings to explore, the play set has a lot of avenues for fun for everyone. The swing has three climbing spots, including a rope and a rock wall.

Pros:

  • Fun parts
  • Durable
  • Four swing
  • Three climbing spots
  • Sturdy frame2-12-year-old range

Cons:

  • Wooden parts need a lot of care.

What is the best landing material to put under a swing set?

Once I set the swing, I must ensure the kids playing there are well cared for. One way I ensure a safe landing in case of a fall is by mulching the ground to create a soft place to fall upon.

Here are some materials to ensure a soft landing on the playing field.

a) Sand

Sand is a very natural choice of material. Sand is not only easier to access but easier to maintain as it is a naturally occurring material. This means that the sand will not be affected by weather changes.

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The challenge that sand poses is how hot it can be during very hot sunny days. Sand tends to be kicked out of the play area as well. This means that sand needs a lot of maintenance and replacement. Once the kids play in the sand, sand will be everywhere in their hair.

Sand is one of the materials I recommend because no mud is created when it rains. Sand absorbs water at a fair rate compared to other materials. However, if there are no sand barriers, the sand might be washed away whenever it rains, which is not good.

b) Rubber Mulch

There are a lot of advantages that rubber mulch comes with. First, the maintenance cost of rubber is pretty low compared to the other materials. While rubber is not environmentally friendly, you would not have to replace it often.

Image Source: bestinbackyards.com

Rubber offers a soft landing compared to other materials and can accommodate falls from higher points. However, there are a few downsides of rubber, including that rubber is not the best to use during hot days, especially if they are black. In addition, the rubber smell is not the best thing to play around with, as it can be a bit intoxicating.

Rubber might be a bit expensive at purchase, but in the long run, rubber is much lower than the other materials because there is little to no maintenance.

c) Wood Mulch

There is a lot to love about wood. First, it is easy to access compared to both sand and rubber. Second, there is a chance you are near a carpenter's shop. Third, wood provides a landing surface that is just as effective as that rubber.

Image Source: swingkingdom.com

The downside with wood is that it can sometimes start to decay after a while. Also, there can be a lot of insects eating into the wood chippings unless it is treated with chemicals, which might not be safe to have around kids.

Wood mulch takes a longer time to dry up once it rains. This is a downside of having wood mulch in the yard because once it is water-logged, you might start dealing with mold.

d) Pea Gravel

Image Source: swingkingdom.com

Pea gravel is a good option for rubber, wood, or sand. The material is soft to the touch and offers a soft landing. Pea gravel is not good for toddlers who are in the stage of eating everything. The material poses a choking hazard which you need to watch out for.

e) Rubber Tiles

Image Source: adventureturf.com

Rubber tiles are a great option for playground and safety zone equipment in most play areas. Rubber is fairly accessible, and you do not need any special processing to use them.

Swing Set Safety Tips

1) Maximum of Two Swings Per Set

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While it might be tempting to have as many swings as possible, having more than two swings for each set is not advisable. There is a limit that the swing frame should not exceed if everyone is to stay safe.

2) Strict Supervision

While this has nothing to do with the swing sets directly, it is a remedy for avoiding random accidents. We can not say kids are dumb, but they lose focus pretty fast, and their attention span is like that of a chicken. For this reason, a kid is likely to walk right in front of a swinging kid.

Younger kids are not as aware as we would wish. For this reason, the best way to avoid injury is to have as many preventive measures as possible.

3) Fence

There is a great need to have a fence around the area where the swing sets will be. A fence will ensure no kids play in the area without any supervision. The fence also ensures no kid accidentally walks in front of swinging kids. The fence further prevents any pets from running into playing kids.

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A fence can be playful and colorful for anyone to notice that it is there for safety reasons.

4) Adequate Spacing

There is a great need to space out the swings. The problem with the swings being too close to each other is kids touching each other when swinging, potentially causing accidents. Well-spaced-out swings will save you a lot of accident possibilities.

Adequate spacing might sound overly generous, especially for a small yard. However, the safety of the kids is the first thing to be considered in any decision made when making a swing set.

5) No Overloading

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There are moments when the temptation to fit two kids on a single swing creeps in. In such moments, I have to summon inner strength. Other moments are when I feel like going on the swing for only a few minutes. The weight limit rule shall never be broken.

6) Watch Out for Choking Hazards

Kids should not have anything in their mouths when swinging on the swing set. Every child with something in their hand will automatically transfer it to the mouth to free the hands for grabbing onto the swing. 

If you have a toddler, they will pick something and put it right in the mouth. So always be on the lookout.

7) Supervision is Not Micromanagement

When you micromanage kids, they are bound to get irritated. When kids get irritated, they do dangerous things on the playing ground. As a result, they might throw tantrums, which is the last thing anyone wants.

8) Well Maintained Equipment

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Regardless of how much you follow the safety recommendations to the latter, faulty swing sets are likely to cause an injury. So the first thing I do before my kids hop onto the swing set is find out whether the swing sets are safe for use. This is a part I can not skip.

9) Soft Safety Zone

The swing sets are not to be used if there is no safety zone. That is a rule that even my kids know.

10) Appropriate Swing Seats

Image Source: canadiantire.ca

There are swing seats for every age group. There are seats meant for toddlers and fairly older kids. The toddler swing sets need to have seats with restraints. The baby swing sets have seats from which the kid can not fall. The swing set can keep the kids entertained while maintaining the highest levels of safety.

Metal vs. wood swing sets

Wood swing sets are probably the first swing sets that existed. Most sets were set up on tree limbs in the older days. Kids primarily climbed trees for sport, so the setting was more natural. However, with the ever-urbanizing neighborhoods, there is a need for innovation.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of wood and metal swing sets.

Advantages of Wood Swing Sets

Image Source: cedarworks.com

a) Durable

A wood swing set is more durable than a metal one if well cared for. If the play set is made of wood like cedar and is well maintained, it can last longer outdoors than its metal counterparts. Wood will not rust and is as good as it is taken care of.

Wood is safe to use during extreme weather. Unlike metal, wood will not overheat or freeze during winter, making it a safer option. In addition, wooden swing sets have a resilience that lasts thousands of years.

b) Style

Wood swing sets blend in with the environment and look richer compared to the metal swing set.

Disadvantages of a Wooden Swing Set

While wood is one of the greatest materials, it has more disadvantages than advantages (compared to a metallic swing set). Otherwise, I would personally go for a wooden swing set. Here are some downsides of a wooden swing set.

a) Expensive

A wooden swing set is more expensive compared to a metal swing set. There is a lot of metal to come by compared to wood which is getting less and less available. The more durable wood choices are more expensive than, the less durable wood.

b) High Maintenance

Wood needs a lot of treatment to maintain. Unfortunately, there are a lot of adversities that befall wood once it is set outside. From rotting to pests boring into the wood, there is a lot of care that should be taken. However, once the wood is treated well, you can count thousands of years before you need a replacement.

c) Less Re-Use

Metal can always be reused and reshaped to make other things. For example, if you need to expand the swing set, you can simply weld another metal onto the existing one. Unfortunately, this is not the case with wood.

Advantages of a Metal Swing Set

Image Source: starswingsets.com

Metal has a lot of advantages, hence why it is used a lot. Here are some advantages of using metal.

a) Affordable

Metal is more affordable than wood, so more buildings use metal beams instead of wood. You will find wooden beams but in very expensive settings. There is a lot of metal to come across and metal yards everywhere. You will not find a wooden scrap yard if you try finding one.

b) Accessible

Metal is everywhere. Metallic structures are all over our living environment. From gates to balcony grills, you will find metal there. For this reason, a metal swing set will be easier to put up than a wood swing set.

c) Easy to Manipulate

Metal wood swing sets are easy to manipulate. If you need to add more parts to the swing set, it will be easier than a wooden swing set, as all it takes is to weld parts together.

c) Movable Parts

Metal parts make moving parts more easily compared to wood.

Disadvantages of a Metal Swing Set

a) Not-Weather Proof

Metal is affected by weather changes. When it gets hot, the metal can get dangerously hot during mid-summer. When it gets cold, you can barely touch the metal with your bare hands. There are a lot of burns and frost burns that come as a result of the metal being too hot.

b) Rust

Since metal is exposed outdoors, there is a chance that it may start rusting unless well taken care of. The metal swing set will require even more maintenance if you are near the coast.

Advantages of a Plastic Swing Set

Image Source: swingsetwarehouse.com

Plastic swing sets are becoming more popular in a lot of play areas. As a result, most companies find it easier to mass-produce plastic swing sets than wood or metal. Here are some advantages of plastic swing sets.

a) Less Injury

There is less chance of an injury occurring when someone bumps into a plastic swing set than a metal. In addition, burns and frostbite injuries are nearly non-existent because the plastic is more or less resistant to temperature changes.

b) Easy to Mold

Plastic can create different interesting shapes to make playground equipment more exciting for kids. For example, it is easier to shape plastic into mystical creatures or superheroes than wood or metal.

Disadvantages of a Plastic Play Set

a) Environmental Hazard

When it gets hot, plastic can emit fumes that are not very friendly to the environment.

b) Fading

Plastics fade over time and start looking ugly. This can be taken care of by repainting and is not a huge problem.

c) Low Weight Limit

Plastic is lightweight and has a lower weight limit than the other swing sets.

Parts of a Play Set

Here are some components of a play set to add to the fun.

Image Source: backyardfunfactory.com

1) Wave Slide Set

A wave slide is probably one of the most fun parts of a play set. There is no way my kid is not sliding down a wave slide when we go to the park. I try to engage them on the slide as much as possible because they will soon outgrow it, and we will have to travel around to find wave slides for adults.

2) Swing Sets

A swing set is almost a guarantee in a playground. Swing sets are so independent that they tend to be the standalone playground equipment most of the time.

3) Rock Climbing Wall

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A rock climbing wall is becoming a common feature in a play set. There is a lot of fun, especially for 5-year-olds and older.

4) Rope Ladder

Kids like climbing stuff, and a rope ladder is the only way to tap into this energy. I have a climbing rope ladder to the treehouse I build my kids because it is more fun and challenging.

5) Monkey Bars

Monkey bars are becoming increasingly popular. A monkey bar is a lot of fun and allows the kids to hang out and be innovative in their games.

6) Basketball Hoop

Hoops are exciting because they can be set up anywhere in the play set. For example, I have a hoop on the living room door in my house, and we do not have to go to the playground to have fun with them.

7) Trapeze Bar

Image Source: gorillaplaysets.com

The trapeze swing bar is an exciting one that I have noticed most kids like. There is something about hanging on things that excite kids, and I have yet to put the finger on it. One trapeze bar is often enough for a small yard because no one is hanging on the bar for more than a minute.

8) Flying Saucer Swing

A flying saucer swing has solved the problem of having only one swing for one kid. I can now fit multiple children on one swing and supervise how they have fun. The saucer swing is comfortable and more exciting. My boy likes reclining on it as I swing him.

FAQS

1. What is the age limit to use a swing set?

When setting up a swing set, it is important to know that the users are always growing. Therefore, it is smart to set up a swing set that accommodates a wider age range. Otherwise, the swing sets will be rendered useless in two years.

Image Source: aaastateofplay.com

The age limit for a swing set should range between 4-10 years old. Some seats are molded for infants and young children to give them maximum protection. For ages below five, strict parental supervision is advised. There is no point where an infant should be at the swing set alone.

2. Should I slide or swing with my child?

Swing sets have weight limits. There is a risk of causing an accident if you go to a swing set with an age limit. There are swing sets for small kids, some for adults, and others for mixed-age use.

I would advise against using the swing set as an adult unless it is for your age and weight limit.

3. Do swing sets lower property values around them?

This is a question that can go both ways. There are instances where swing sets might lower the property value, and in some places, it may raise it a bit. If the neighborhood is family-based, there is a high chance that the swing set will attract the right buyer.

Image Source: theregreview.org

People are different, and some people do not always prefer to be around children. College students are less likely to stay in family-based apartments, and small families will avoid more youth-dominated apartments.

Final Thoughts

Parenting is more fulfilling if the kids are happy. One thing that works like magic is when kids jump and swing on the playset. Every neighborhood with a playset is happier than one with none.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.