Choosing A Playset? We Asked The Experts!

INTERVIEWS | | June 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

My family has been back and forth about buying a playset and though we feel strongly that my kiddo would benefit from the physical exercise to help her work on her balance we have been weighing options. Eventually we decided to hold off on buying one as the financial commitment, though a valid investment, is still a huge one. For now I will be hopping over to use my neighbor’s new playset this summer. When I was at Time To Play Spring Showcase in NY I met the guys from Backyard Discovery. I took the time to ask the guys some questions that have been boggling me. I decided to share. Maybe this will help me choose a set for next year.

What materials are suited for how we choose a playset, metal or wood?
When shopping for a playset, it is important to remember that whatever material the playset is made of, it has to be able to withstand a variety of weather conditions.  Since most metals can begin to rust after withstanding precipitation like rain or snow for any length of time, wood is the better way to go.    Choosing among all the difference woods out there may seem like a challenge, but again it comes down to finding the type that can weather all types of settings, whether it be excessive heat, a lot of rain, wooded areas or open spaces.  Of all the wood out there, cedar is by far the best to handle outdoor wear and tear, which is why Backyard Discovery uses cedar for all its outdoor playsets and playhouses.  Naturally decay, rot and insect resistant, cedar is one of the most durable types of wood, meaning it will last for years to come.

If you have a small backyard what type of set is best suited?

For those with a small backyard it simply comes down to shopping for the space you have.  Measure the area of flat ground where you intend to place the set and keep those dimensions in mind when looking around.  Keep in mind,  each playset offers specific safe play area dimensions in addition to the actual dimensions of the playset.  All of Backyard Discovery’s sets come in various shapes and sizes, giving families the opportunity to choose a set that best fits their space.  And, no matter the size, all sets come with swings, a slide and a fort, all of which allow kids to have endless hours of outdoor play.  Understandably, some yards don’t have the space to house even the smaller playsets, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a way to have fun outside.  For these instances, Backyard Discovery has a selection of cedar playhouses that still gives kids the tools they need for an outdoor adventure without taking up as much space as the full-sized playsets.

If your backyard is sloped is it still possible to have a playset?


All playsets require flat ground to prevent the set from tipping and to ensure that all play surfaces on the level and, therefore, safe for children’s use.  Furthermore, proper anchoring is one of the most important steps in creating a safe play environment, and completing this step on a sloped surface can be extremely difficult.  Based on this, we do not recommend placing a playset on a sloped surface.

If you have a lawn can you still have a play set on or do you recommend you put something else on?

While you can certainly anchor your playset directly into the ground without placing any material under it, we recommend distributing loose fill materials to help minimize falls and other accidents.

Based on previous question, do you recommend sand, mulch, pebbles? How do you determine which?

Materials like mulch, reground plastic or wood chips work really well for creating an appropriate play area.  These materials help cushion the ground and soften falls.

When there are siblings of different ages which should you cater toward, older or younger (safety or challenge)?

The nice thing about our playsets is that you don’t have to choose.  Backyard Discovery allows you to customize your set so that its features fit a variety of ages.  For instance, we offer toddler and belt swings, as well as gliders, to accommodate children of various ages – all of whom love swinging and can then do so at the same time.  Also, all sets have step ladders, but older children might enjoy the addition of a rock wall for a more challenging climb.  The bottom line is, when it comes to a good playset, you should have to cater to one age over the other.  You can create a set that’s great for different ages and can actually grow as your children grow.

5 Comments

  1. 1
    Caryn says:

    I’m so glad that I’m not the only one struggling with this decision! Everyone who has one says that their kids played on it for like four days and those who don’t have one covet them. I wish they weren’t so expensive!

  2. 2
    jennifer says:

    Wee Monsters Play Systems is located in Atlanta. If I can ever answer any questions about your playset purchase, feel free to ask. We are a custom manafacturer of playgroundequipment. Check is out at http://www.weemonstersplay.com/shop

  3. 3
    Sandy Avila says:

    We have a Big Backyard Cedar Playset that works pretty nicely. The wood does start to fade after a year however, so I recommend getting a playset that has well-oiled, durable wood.

    Sandy Avila, Director of Operations at Prepped & Polished: Tutoring, College Counseling, Test Prep

  4. 4
    Cyndi says:

    We got a cheap plastic little tykes one off of craigslist for 100$. Slide, swings, little rope ladder – works well for now. We’re putting off this purchase for real until we buy a new house. Although even then I don’t know if I could stomach the prices they charge for these!

  5. 5
    Test Anchor says:

    This page definitely has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

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