Preparing your Yard for a Playset Installation

A Simple How-To on Avoiding Problems and Making Sure Your Yard is Ready to Install a Playset

A playset can’t be installed just anywhere. A good site for a swing set must meet several conditions. This article will help you understand what these conditions are, and also how to achieve these conditions (we refer to this as “ground prep”), so that your playset can be installed on the site of your choosing, leaving you and your family a safe and attractive swing set.

There is a preliminary step to ground prep: choose a spot in your yard where the playset will be installed. There are two approaches for deciding on a location. The first approach is to decide which area of your yard needs the least amount of ground prep, then place the swing set in that area. This can result in less time and expense for ground prep. The second approach is to pick an ideal location for your swing set, then do whatever ground prep is necessary for that location. This will result in your playset being exactly where and how you want it.

Below are some common problems that require some aspect of ground prep. We have also included instructions for eliminating such problems and helping you ensure your yard is ready for the installation of your swing set. Please note that, depending on your exact playset model, the manufacturer may have other ground prep specifications.

1. Unlevel Ground

The ground the playset will be built upon must be level! This means no significant slopes or major contours in the ground. We understand that very few yards are completely flat, but your yard must have a level place for your particular unit in order to ensure a safe and successful assembly. Erecting a playset on unlevel ground is detrimental:

• It is a major safety risk for your children and all who use the unit
• It voids the warranty on the playset in the case of most manufacturers
• It makes the assembly process progressively difficult, causing improper alignment and spacing of parts, and ultimately leading to a less safe and less attractive unit
• It results in a shorter product lifetime
How to Level the Ground: you can hire a landscaper or do it yourself. Doing it yourself may require removing sod from the area (we recommend renting a sod-cutter for areas larger than 36ft2, but for smaller areas, using a spade shovel would work just fine). Once sod is removed and only dirt remains, with a shovel, you can move dirt from higher ground to lower ground (or simply remove dirt from higher ground) until the ground is flat. Tree roots may be an issue! Please note that additional leveling can be done during the installation if needed.

2. Other Hindrances to Proper Playset Installation

A. Spaces that aren’t open enough – ensure your yard has open space for your playset plus a safe play buffer zone (recommended 6 ft on all sides by most manufacturers). Any plants, pavers stones, lawn accessories, etc. should be removed.
B. Utility fixtures – ensure that no buried utilities, wires, pipes, etc. will interfere with play or installation. Ensure any septic tanks, gas tanks, etc. pose no risk of installation or play.
C. Sprinklers – ensure that you are not planning to position the swing set over any sprinkler heads or irrigation equipment.
D. Overhead hindrances – ensure no overhead obstacles interfering with the upper parts of the playset (power lines, roofs, trees, etc.).
E. Animal waste – ensure that the play and installation area are cleaned and clear of all animal waste.
F. Playground surfacing materials – if you plan to lay down weed block, please do so prior to installation. However, installation of any surfacing materials (i.e., rubber mulch, wood mulch, sand) should be done after installation.

Depending how you want your set oriented (parallel, perpendicular or cattycorner to home or property lines), some apparent hindrances may not affect play or installation. Once the location and orientation of the playset are decided, it is a good idea to look at the dimensions of the playset and then place markers where the four corners of the playhouse will be, where the end of the swing beam will be, and where any other extensions to the playhouse will end up. The location of the markers should make clear those obstacles and hindrances that require ground prep as well as those that do not.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: ground prep is a service Assemblymen offers in addition to playset assembly and installation! To learn more, click here.