Kids are always so excited when they see their new swing set arrive, while, as adults, we’re more concerned with keeping everything safe and anchored to the ground. Kids love to swing as high as they can; who can blame them? Trying to flip the swing over the top bar is a favorite pastime for many of us.
Playing rough with a playset can cause it to tip back and forth, and it can also cause the screws holding it together to loosen over time. Anchoring the playset will help keep it together in one fixed location so it will last longer and stay safer.
Do you already have your playset anchored and you’re just looking for tips to secure it before a storm? Scroll to the bottom of this article, we have you covered too.
Why You Should Anchor Your Playset
Anchoring your playset is crucial because it keeps your kids safe when they’re swinging and climbing. It also keeps the playset safe; if it tips over, it can hurt anyone nearby and also damage the equipment itself. An unanchored playset can also damage your yard, fence, and outside structures if it flips over.
Some playsets have a clause in the warranty that specifies it must be anchored when in use. If you don’t anchor it to the ground, you’ll void the warranty. No matter how sturdy the equipment itself may be, without anchoring it, you’re putting your children at risk.
People might think that only cheap playsets need to be anchored, but it’s a safety feature that is better to utilize than not. There are no-anchor playsets on the market that are sturdy enough without this added safety feature, so if you’re not able to anchor in your backyard, you can use this option.
Whether you use ground anchors or concrete, these options should not pose safety risks to your children. If you find that your grass is getting packed due to the traffic of your children playing, you can surround your playset with loose materials like mulch, pea gravel, or sand. Check out our article on surface material options here.
However, even no-anchor playsets can be anchored if you want to be extra safe. If your playset doesn’t come with an anchoring kit, you can buy one at a hardware store or create DIY anchors.
Ground anchors can be used for storage sheds and outdoor structures, so they’re good choices to keep your playset safe. As long as the ground in your backyard isn’t too soft, this type of anchor will be an effective solution.
A bonus of using ground anchors is that they can be removed from the yard without damaging the ground or leaving a hole. When your kids outgrow the playset or your family moves, you can remove the anchors and still have a beautiful yard as a selling point.
What They Are
Ground anchors are stakes that are inserted into the ground and then attached to the playset with bolts. There are different designs for ground stakes, including the popular twists that are inserted into the soil like you’re drilling in a screw.
The length of ground anchors may vary depending on the overall size of your playset. All stakes will have a shape at the end that sticks out above the ground to attach to the playset structure itself. These methods of attachment include bolts, screws, strings, and straps.
If your playset doesn’t come with a set of ground anchors, there is probably a certain type or size listed in the manual to help you pick the right tools for the job.
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When to Use Them
Most wooden playsets require ground anchors due to their size and material; it’s easier to bolt a ground anchor into a wooden structure than a metal one. If you’re able to hammer a stake into your yard with moderate effort, then your soil is ideal for ground stakes.
If you don’t need the hammer to get the stake into the ground, you’ll most likely need to anchor your playset in concrete, which we’ve outlined below. Soil firmness can vary in the same yard, however, so you can test different patches of ground to find the best location for your playset.
How to Install Them
Ground anchor kits will come with the stakes themselves as well as the supplies needed to attach the stakes to the playset. Other than that, you might need a hammer, wrench, and drill.
If your playset comes with specific instructions, follow those guidelines. Generally, ground anchors are easy to install. First, see if your playset has pre-drilled holes in the legs for the anchors to attach. If not, drill pilot holes to get started.
Insert the anchor into the ground near the leg of the playset. You can hammer it gently to get it started or to help you get it deep enough into the soil. If your anchor is a corkscrew type, you’ll need to turn it into the dirt. Once it seems properly inserted, tug on it to make sure it won’t easily pull from the ground.
If the ground anchor seems secure, you’re ready to attach it to the playset. Some anchors have an eye at the top of the stake where a bolt is pushed through and screwed to the playset. Others use straps that are threaded through the stake and attached to the playset leg.
After rain, snow, or extensive usage, check the ground anchors to make sure they’re still firmly rooted in the soil. If they come loose, you can hammer them back into the ground. If the soil has become too loose, you might need to consider a deeper anchor or corkscrew type, moving your playset, or even anchoring it in concrete.
DIY Ground Anchors
If you don’t want to buy a playset anchoring kit, you can create some DIY ground anchors by using wooden stakes. All you’ll need are wooden stakes roughly 2” x 4” x 18”; you can purchase lumber cut to this size or buy garden stakes, which are already cut to this size.
The stake needs to be driven at least 12 inches into the ground. This means a portion of the stake will stick out of the ground, which might be a tripping hazard when your children are running around but is also required in order to secure the playset. It also won’t look as attractive as the corkscrew anchors that only have the eye aboveground.
How to Install Them
Hammer the garden stake until 12 inches or more are underground. If you think you have it in deep enough, try to pull on the stake to see if it comes out of the soil. If it moves easily, hammer it down another inch or two. The soil might still be too soft, which means you’ll have to choose a different location with firmer soil or resort to anchoring it in concrete.
Once the stake stays in the ground, then you’ll want to attach it to the leg of the playset using at least four strategically placed nails. Use these stakes on every post of the play structure.
This method isn’t a bad way to anchor your swing set, but it’s typically only cost-effective if you already have the nails and garden stakes on hand. Otherwise, your price will come out about equal whether you buy an anchor kit or those supplies at the hardware store.
Anchoring Your Playset in Concrete
Using concrete to anchor each leg of your playset will ensure it’s sturdy for years to come. Note that the concrete should only be used in the area immediately around each post of the play structure. Concrete should not be poured as the material underneath the entire swing set.
While using concrete will keep your swing set in place, you should know that the process is more involved—in terms of time and effort than the previous methods using stakes and anchors.
When to Use This Method
Most metal playsets can be anchored in concrete because they’re built from a sturdy material. This method isn’t recommended for wooden playsets because the concrete can damage the structural integrity of the wood.
Even after the concrete has dried, it will still absorb moisture from the ground around it. There’s no way to prevent this moisture from reaching the wood, so using concrete with wooden play structures might cause the posts to rot over time. As the wood rots, the structural integrity of your support posts will decrease.
Depending on the type of wood your playset is made of, you might be able to treat it and still insert it into the concrete. You can find wood preservatives that contain copper naphthenate in the paint section at hardware stores. You will want to apply the preservatives and leave plenty of time to dry before attaching to the concrete.
If the soil in your yard is too soft to hold a ground anchor, you’ll have to use concrete to anchor your playset. This is a benefit for soft soil because it will keep the legs of your playset from sinking over time. You can also level the playset as you’re setting the concrete.
Concrete is more permanent than using ground anchors, so you might find yourself stuck with a playset in your backyard even after your kids become teenagers. You can always take apart the playset, dig out the concrete supports, and fill the resulting holes with soil and cover them with mulch or grass seeds, but it’s just something to consider before you choose this option.
How to Install
Compared to using ground anchors, you’ll need a fair amount of supplies for your playset’s concrete base. In addition to concrete, you’ll need stakes or paint to mark the ground where the posts stand. You’ll need a shovel to dig the holes; if you have a post digger, this can make the process much easier.
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Using bricks or gravel in the bottom of the hole will provide additional support, so you’ll want to have these on hand. You’ll need anchoring plates or a galvanized base to attach to the bottom of the set’s legs. This gives a broader base so the posts won’t pull right out of the concrete. You’ll need bolts to attach the legs to these bases.
After marking the location of your playset’s posts with stakes or paint, dig holes in each location that are at least 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Add the gravel or bricks to the bottom of the hole for extra support.
Attach the anchoring plates or galvanized bases to the legs of your playset with bolts or screws. Mix your concrete and pour it into the holes you dug. The legs of the swing set should be pushed into the wet concrete until the anchoring plate is just beneath the surface.
Check that the playset is level before the concrete sets. Depending on the type of concrete you used, it might take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to harden completely. After the concrete has set, push against each post to make sure they are secured adhered to the ground.
Preparing for a Storm: How to Secure a Playset
Check that all of the posts are securely anchored when bad weather is in the forecast. Remove all of the swings and take them inside. If your playset has a fabric canopy, take that off as well. If your playset includes a sandbox with a lid, make sure the lid is securely latched closed.
In case of bad weather, you might consider anchoring your slide. Typically just the posts of the playset are anchored into the ground, but the slide can be ripped off of the playset in extreme weather, so anchoring it as well could provide some extra protection.
Anchoring the base of the slide to the ground will prevent it from being pulled away from the rest of the structure. You can even leave this anchored when your kids play because it will keep the slide from developing a gap where it connects to the equipment.
When the bad weather has passed, check the anchors of your playset before your children climb on it again. Push against each post and make sure the ground around the anchors hasn’t eroded. Put the swings and other accessories back on the playset and you’re good to go!
Anchoring your swing set will ensure your children have fun playing while you have peace of mind regarding their safety. After anchoring your playset, make sure you’re following all of the safety guidelines and regularly inspecting the equipment, especially after bad weather.