Category Archives: Play Sets
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Our hard working customer service staff gets many questions regarding swing sets, such as “What should we put under our swing set?” The materials that you choose to put under your swing set is often ignored, but it can make your backyard play area a safer place. In addition, the right material will help your backyard look clean and professionally manicured.
Materials you can Put Under your Swing Set
Wood Chips / Mulch
- Rubber or wood mulch
- Can be good for your lawn
- Some maintenance required: Must add mulch periodically
- May cause splinters
- Some children like to throw wood chips around the backyard
- Least maintenance needed
- More visual appeal
- Strong and durable
- Several different colors and designs available
- Some people are allergic to rubber
- Higher costs
- Some complain about the smell of rubber mats
Rubber mulch is commonly used under playground swing sets. However, they’re a great long term and safe solution.
- Absorbs shock to reduce chances of injury
- Does not attract insects
- Installation is easy
- Low maintenance
- Not as efffective at controlling weeds
- Rubber mulch is highly flammable
- The environmental and human side effects are not fully known
- Lower costs
- Visual appeal
- Kids can also use sand as a sandbox
- Can purchase at most home improvement store. Including Lowes!
- Attracts cats and could potentially carry diseases (in severe cases)
- Maintenance needed
- Can easily be tracked into your house
Pea gravel looks similar to small rocks, but it works well under swing sets.
- Lower costs
- Strong and durable
- Harder surface than mats or mulch
- Maintenance required
- Gets stuck in shoes, pants and gets tracked around more
So, What Material Should I Choose?
All of the materials mentioned above would be an acceptable choice. We suggest using wood or rubber mulch. It is not as easy to track mulch all over the backyard and it does a great job at absorbing the impact in case your child falls. While it may cost your more than pea gravel or sand, through our own experience and from customer reviews, mulch has proven to be the cleanest and safest material to put under swing sets. Considering we’re talking about your children, don’t you want the best?
What material did you put under your swing set? We would like to hear what you think!
Swing sets have been around long before the invention of video games. Whether it is playing at their school playground or right in their own backyard, almost every child has enjoyed playing on a swing set at least once. I can also guarantee that many adults have vivid memories of their playtime on swing sets. It is one of the few times that a kid can be a kid.
Swing sets allow kids to express their imagination, get physical exercise, develop hand-eye coordination, improve social skills and of course, have fun.
Say No to Video Games & Yes to Swing Sets
As an avid video game player myself, it is hard for me to admit that video games are “borderline evil”. As a child, I enjoyed playing video games; however I found plenty of time to go outside and play. That is not always the case with children in America. Today the obesity rate in children is almost 20%. Frighteningly, children are choosing to exercise their thumbs instead of going outside and playing on a nice swing set.
While our wooden swing sets can cost anywhere from $999 to $3,000, it’s easy to think that buying a $300 Xbox or PS3 is cheaper. However, after years of buying video games and accessories, you might spend close to $5,000. In addition, new systems continually come out which means your child will be begging for a new gaming system sooner than later.
The best part of swing sets is that they never go out of style and you will not have to continually buy new parts just to keep your child content. High quality swing sets will still be standing strong in your backyard when all of your children become teenagers.
The Social Impact of Swing Sets
Another positive aspect that parents don’t always think about in regards to swing sets is the social impact it has on children. Playing on swing sets is one of the first activities that forces children to learn how to communicate with their peers. Children will discuss their imaginative games with their friends and learn to wait their turn on the swing.
If you’re looking for ways to get your child active and have fun at the same time, consider buying a cool swing set for your kids. Swing sets will help your child grow physically and mentally. There are not many other activities for kids that can claim that.
Here at Heartland, we get a lot of questions here regarding play sets, such as “What should we put under our child’s play set?” or “How much space should I leave around the set?” to name a few. So let’s address some of these, especially those concerning safety, as nothing is more important for your child.
How much space do I need?
- Ideally, you’d like at least 6 feet of safety area around the entire swing set. So find a nice flat area within your yard that is about 6 feet from fences and other items.
- Rubber padding or rubber mulch works well, but if you are in an extremely hot climate like Arizona, this can cause it to stick to the kid’s shoes and smell well, like burning rubber. Bark mulch can work well too. Sand attracts neighborhood cats, so take care with that. And good old fashioned grass can work, but keep in mind this will become worn away over time, leaving a hard dirt spot.
- They do, however, you should purchase a set from a company that VOLUNTARILY meets additional safety standards, such as ASTM. Sets that meet ASTM standards ( such as Heartland play sets) have no overlapping play zones, no head or finger entrapments, and recessed hardware. Definitely buy a set from a manufacturer that goes the extra mile for your child’s safety.
- Play sets DO improve health and fitness, that is for sure. But in addition to building physical skills, children develop social skills such as decision making and resolving differences. Furthermore, children learn to use their imagination. Deck areas become pirate ships or special forts.
- Metal can rust and get very hot in the sun. Wood is your best choice. Heartland uses premium Southern Yellow Pine wood, which is 2x stronger than cedar. You also want to look at the thickness of the wood, with the thicker, the better. Make sure you compare this on play sets you are considering, especially looking at the deck areas where a lot of jumping and running happens.
- Depending on who your manufacturer is, usually yes. Heartland play sets can be disassembled and easily moved. However, please keep in mind that this could void your warranty.
Creating Great Childhood Memories
Everyone remembers the fun, carefree days spent playing at a playground or on a friend’s play set as a child. The countless hours spent swinging, climbing, and sliding were the source of many previous childhood memories, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many parents want to provide their own children with a top-quality source of backyard entertainment. Even in a world ruled by technology and video games, there is still something magical about playing outside.
In the eyes of a child, a play set can be everything from a spaceship to a pirate ship. Today’s manufacturers offer more options than ever before when it comes to backyard entertainment. Wood, plastic, and metal sets are all widely available. Wood play sets tend to be a little pricier, but they are often the best choice. By looking beyond the price tag, you can get your son or daughter a set that will be enjoyed for years to come.The price of play sets can vary greatly based upon a number of factors. Though many people are struggling with budgets, this is not a situation where cheaper is better. Lower priced sets are usually made with lower quality materials that will start to deteriorate after just a season or two. Metal sets are typically coated in cheap paint that starts to peel quickly and allows the set to rust. Plastic sets can also start to break down quickly when exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures. Not only do rusted or cracked play sets look unattractive, they also cause numerous safety risks.Many people give little consideration to wood play sets simply because of their price. It is important to note, however, that they are available at prices that will fit into nearly any budget. Unlike cheap plastic and metal sets that are usually only sold as pre-configured units at a specified price, wooden sets are customizable. That means that you can buy a small set that fits your budget now and add on to it later with ease. Doing so can save you money now, and it will also allow you to design a set that is safe for your child now and will grow with him or her later on. By looking at additional factors than just the price of play sets, you will also see a number of other benefits that are present in wood play sets.
Play set safety should always be a top concern for any parent. With regular maintenance, play sets made from wood are some of the safest available. Because they are made from treated lumber, they are able to withstand the elements without the need for paint that can peel and become a health hazard if ingested by small children. Wood play sets are durable in any climate, and they won’t cause the burns that many children have experienced as a result of playing on metal or plastic sets on sunny summer days. Many manufacturers of wooden play sets voluntarily comply with ASTM play set safety standards. To be sure that you are purchasing the safest possible equipment for your child, look for the ASTM seal. Doing so will ensure that the set you purchase is made from top quality materials and that it has been carefully designed with the safety of kids in mind.
Another important factor to keep in mind when shopping is longevity. Most people purchase play sets for small children in hopes that it will last until adolescence. Due to poor construction, many lower end sets made entirely from wood or plastic will break down long before then. If the physical structure does withstand several years of use and exposure to the elements, it is unlikely that the set will remain suitable as the children ages. Cheap sets designed for young children cannot handle the weight of older children, and they can pose serious safety issues if the set tips over or a part of it breaks. Since these sets usually cannot be upgraded, kids will also outgrow their activities. Wood play sets, on the other hand, can withstand the test of time, and they can be added on to or upgraded to include activities that are appropriate for children of all ages. In this way, these play sets are actually more cost efficient because there will never be a need to replace the entire set.
When shopping for a play set, be sure to take all the factors into consideration. If you can look beyond the initial price of play sets and choose a wooden set, your purchase is very likely to pay off in the long run. Not only is wood play set safety some of the best in the industry, these products offer the greatest longevity and are sure to provide your child with countless hours of outdoor fun and entertainment.
Where’s The Beef?
A lot of us can still remember this famous line from a successful fast food ad campaign. It asked a very fundamental “burger” question… Are you getting what you paid for?
The question is just as valid if you are shopping for a Wood Play Set. Today, many companies are chasing lower retail price points and it’s a very good time to ask “Where’s the Beef”.
What are you really getting for your hard earned dollar???
Here is a short list to help you ask the “right” questions when shopping for a quality play set for your child or grandchild.
1) Is it safe?
Does the play set meet all ASTM safety standards? This requirement is currently voluntary for residential play sets but… would you buy a residential swing set that didn’t meet a government safety requirement for commercial swing set and might contain a trap or hazard for your child? Or purchase from a company who put’s your child’s safety first?
2) Will it last?
Is the set constructed out of premium wood? Is it “beefy”? More wood and weight make for a stronger, more stable set. Today, many play companies are using a much thinner and lighter wood product from China. Some of the structural pieces are even laminated!
These may look pretty and they certainly are a lower cost material but… will they hold up? A good “shake” test will tell you a lot about the construction and materials of each set.
3) Is the hardware heavy duty?
Swing hangers, ropes, pinch free chains, belt swings, slides etc. should all stand up to rigorous play. While it may be tough to detect or “see” the difference of quality components on various play sets, look closely when shopping and “feel” the difference. Your kids will appreciate it with hours of safe, comfortable fun.
4) How will it look in my yard after a year?
Is the play set you are considering hand-stained with an appearance stain? Will it need to be re-stained year after year to keep looking good or, is it stained with a pressure process that penetrates the wood to the core (much preferred!) and looks better year after year? Some of the best play sets on the market are now treated with a MicroShades staining process that guarantees fade resistance. Make sure the play set you purchase has this, the newer appearance will help you get some of your money back if you chose to re-sell the play set to a neighbor when your kids or grandkids are done with it!
5) Is it warranted and guaranteed?
Does the company selling the set have a strong safety record and a proven customer service record? Why would you deal with anyone else??
That’s my list. I hope it helps you make an informed decision.
Remember, a quality play set will last years with proper care and provide a helping hand with your young ones. Improved physical and social skills, better long term health, fitness and creativity are just a few of the benefits of backyard play.
Don’t forget to ask the question before you buy… “Where’s the Beef”?
It may interest you to know that all Heartland playsets meet or exceed all applicable ASTM standards. You may be asking yourself “What is ASTM?”. Formerly known as the American Society For Testing And Materials, ASTM is a global leader in the development and delivery of international consensus standards. Our wooden playsets are rounded and sanded to ensure that there are no sharp edges. Heartland playsets never have overlapping play zones, meaning swings are never hung from monkey bars, slides never lead into another play areas and so fourth. Also, the hardware on our premium wood playsets is recessed, so there are no protruding bolts that could potentially cause injury.
Here at Heartland, providing your child with a safe and fun play experience is our number one priority. That is why we choose southern yellow pine to build our playsets which is two times stronger than cedar, and gives 50% more fastener holding power! Our bigger, thicker, and stronger wood alone makes for a safer playset. In addition to this, our CAPTAINS LOFT comes with posts that are coated in plastic! This means NO twisting, NO splintering, NO maintenance of any kind! Whether you are building your playset yourself or trusting installation to one of our trained professionals, you can have the piece of mind that comes with knowing your quality materials will come together to make a durable structure, guaranteed to provide you with years of reliable performance