In the technological age, you want your kids out of the house and into the yard. Having a playground on your property is a great way to bond with your family––if done correctly.
The first thing to consider is the size of your property. Do you have a spacious property, or are you looking to make the most of a tight space? Another thing to think about is the ages of your children. Toddlers, for example, may benefit from sandboxes or a playhouse. Older children, however, would find more enjoyment in sets that allow them to be physically active, like swings or a rock-climbing wall.
This article will discuss how you can make a tailor-made playground that suits the needs of your family. All you need is a few materials, a decent amount of space, and a free weekend.
Building a Playground That Is Safe
Before breaking ground on your new project, your children’s safety should be at the forefront of your mind. You want materials that are durable and reliable. If you are looking to have your playground last for a few years, cedar is one of the best woods you can work with. Not only is it weather-resistant, but it also is not susceptible to insect infestations. If you are looking for a short-term playground or one that you can modify easily, you may opt for softwood.
You will also want to pave the area around the playground with soft materials. You would not want to have the bottom of a slide to be paved with asphalt or concrete. Even grass can cause some serious injuries in the event of a fall. You should cover the ground around the playground with wood chips or sand.
You know your kids better than anyone, so use your best judgment. The safer your playground, the more peace of mind you give yourself.
Sandboxes Are Perfect for Young Children
Sandboxes are a staple of any playground. Not only do they allow young children to use their imagination when building sandcastles or playing with toys, but they are fairly easy to build as well.
What You Will Need
- A tape measure
- Four planks measuring 6×6
- Sand (how many bags is your decision)
- Eight galvanized decking screws, each measuring 3 inches
- A shovel
- A piece of plywood measuring 6×6
Step 1: Measure the Perimeter
First, measure the area in which you want to place the sandbox. To make matters easier for yourself, stick to a simple square with the wood planks meeting end to side. A small sandbox should be 4×4. A larger sandbox would be 6×6. The decision is yours.
Step 2: Screw the Planks Together
You want the planks to stay together in the square shape through rain or shine. To keep the planks together, you are going to want to use galvanized decking screws. Use two screws to secure the horizontal side of one plank into the vertical side of another.
Step 3: Hollow Out the Inside of the Box
Once you have the square box in place, take a shovel and begin hollowing out the inside. Dig about six inches deep. If you want to prevent bugs and other critters from burrowing upward into the sandbox, you can put down a thin sheet of plywood measuring 6×6.
Step 4: Pour in the Sand
How much sand you want to pour in is your decision. You do not want to fill the box all the way to the top since this will cause the sand to spill over.
And just like that, you have a sandbox! Of course, this is not the end of your playground-building adventure. To make the most of your family’s new playset, continue reading.
It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got a Swing
Swing sets are nearly synonymous with playgrounds. Not only is it like having a small amusement park ride in your backyard, but the back-and-forth motion is proven to be soothing for children with autism.
What You Will Need
- Four planks of wood measuring 10x4x10
- Two A-frame brackets
- One post measuring 12x4x6”
- Four eyebolts
- Four plasticized chains measuring 66”
- Two swing seats
- 5.5”x 8 feet posts (two of them) to secure the A-frame
- A drill
- Four connector links
Step 1: Mark Off the Area
Not only do you want to have enough space for the swing set itself, but you want to make sure that the space accommodates the arc that the swing will make while in use. You do not want to place the swing in a location where the chains can get snagged on a tree or where the child will strike against a hard surface.
Step 2: Building the Frame of the Swing Set
There are many different swing set designs online. However, we are going to stick with the classic frame. The frame will look something like a giant sawhorse. You are going to need seven planks of wood made of durable wood. Because the swing set will need to hold a significant amount of weight, you should use pressure-treated cedar.
The sides of the swing set are going to be two A-frames. The sides of the A-frame––the pieces of wood that make the triangle––they should be 10x4x10. Of course, you can make the height smaller if you have younger children. The horizontal strip that runs across the A-frames should be 5.5” by 8 feet. Secure the horizontal planks across the A-frame with two 4 inch galvanized screws. Repeat the same step for the other A-frame.
Step 3: Connecting the Top Post That Will Hold the Swings
Now that you have the sides of your swing set, you need to connect them with a post measuring 12x4x6. If you tinkered with the height or length of the swing set, you may need to make some adjustments. To connect the A-frames with the post, you will use A-frame brackets.
The most important part of this step is to make sure that the frame is sturdy. Do not use a nail gun when constructing the swing set, as this will not give the structure enough support. Use a drill that inserts galvanized screws. Once you have secured the wooden A-frames to the A-frame brackets, the structure should be able to stand on its own. You can reinforce the structure with more screws if necessary.
Step 4: Connecting the Swings
The height of the swings must be high enough off the ground to gain altitude but not too high that the children cannot safely get on and off it. While you may think that rope will be sufficient enough to hold your child, this may not be safe. Rope tends to age poorly, and with use, the rope will eventually wear away. Instead, opt for chains in a plastic sleeve.
To recap, the post that will support the swings should be 12 feet in length. You will screw in the first eyebolt 16 inches in. There should be 20 inches between each eyebolt. Each swing should be 18 inches apart.
Step 5: Fastening the Swings
Now it’s finally time to fasten the swings to the structure. As previously mentioned, each plasticized chain will be 66 inches in length. Again, you can make adjustments based on the height of your children. You will connect the side of each swing set to the chain by using a connector link. If you purchased a swing through a retailer, it may come with these attachments.
Now your swing set is ready for action. As your children age, you may need to make certain adjustments to accommodate their changing height and weight.
Assembling a Treeless Treehouse
In addition to your sandbox and swing set, you may want to build a wooden clubhouse for your children to play in. Doing so could grant them a sense of independence as they interact in an outdoor space build just for then.
What You Will Need
- Four posts measuring 10×10
- A nail gun
- Five Sheets of plywood
- A circular saw
Step 1: Think About What You Are Going For
What makes this project different from the previous ones is that this one really depends on the unique needs of your family. You may want to build a house that is level with the ground. You may be interested in learning about how to build a two-story clubhouse, where the upper level is for play and the bottom level is for storage. This section will discuss how to construct the former.
Step 2: Setting the Foundation
The foundation of the clubhouse itself will begin with a square shape. Take four posts measuring 10X10 and set them in a square shape. Next, take a nail gun and secure the ends of the posts to each other. For long-term use, you should use two nails on each connecting side.
Step 3: Building the Walls
Now, you are going to take five sheets of plywood to build the walls. The sheets of plywood should also be 10X10. If you want the clubhouse to have a window, take a circular saw and cut an opening. We recommend making the opening 15 inches by 15 inches. Once you have nailed three sheets of plywood to the base, you will make the opening in which your children can enter and exit the clubhouse.
Step 4: Making the Door
To make the door, you are going to take a sheet of plywood and cut out a rectangular opening starting from the bottom. The shape of the opening should depend on the height of your children. Again, since we are assuming that you will be using this for quite some time, you may want to consider how much your children will grow in the future.
The shape of the rectangular opening should measure 2×5. As noted, you can make adjustments based on the specifics of your children.
Step 5: Laying the Roof
Finally, we’re going to make the roof. You are more than welcome to use a tarp to create a makeshift roof. However, by building a wooden roof, you will add additional support to the structure. Take the fifth piece of plywood and nail it to the tops of the plywood that are already in place.
Give Your Child a Taste of the Great Outdoors
By building a sandbox, swing set, or clubhouse, not only do you spice up your yard, but you also give your children the opportunity to be physically active. Gone will be the days of sitting idly in front of the TV or staring at a computer screen.