The Lakewood swing set is in its sweet spot, with many fun features for kids, but with a small footprint that can fit in smaller yards (and budgets). It’s a budget option with all the usual suspects and a couple of unique features to encourage social and pretend play.
The Backyartisan's Verdict
Before we dive into the review, how does our rating system work?
We’ve chosen five categories to focus on. Each one will have weights to help you consider their unique importance to the overall quality. We use these sub-ratings to produce an overall rating, which you can use to get a sense of whether or not this model is the one for you.
For the Lakewood swing set model, here are our ratings (and weighted amounts).
Shipping & Receiving
When you order a high-quality play set such as the Lakewood (or any others from Backyard Discovery), the shipping and receiving experience can make or break the overall impression of the product. It can be a dealbreaker for many people who have previously experienced poor shipping and receiving encounters.
If you know what to expect before the shipment arrives, the process will go smoothly. Feel free to check out our guide on what to expect when receiving a playset shipment to get familiar with the process beforehand.
Our Lakewood verdict: Thankfully, Backyard Discovery has a reputation for providing a positive shipping experience, and this Lakewood model has loads of positive experiences to draw on. With five stars in this category, you can anticipate a smooth delivery. Since this model isn’t large compared to other models, it’s not a big hassle to ship or unload.
Trucking Company Appointments
Receiving a playset of this size isn’t like ordering a package to be delivered to your doorstep; you need to schedule an appointment with the trucking company. Yes, it stinks to make a truck appointment, but this is the safest way to ship these playsets. Besides, everyone wants the same thing: for your playset to arrive undamaged and on time.
These shipments arrive via freight truck, so plan for that. The truck will likely be much larger than a typical box truck, so it will need plenty of room for parking and turning. When setting your appointment, it may be a good idea to choose a day and time when traffic around your home is minimal to allow as much space as possible.
Dealing with Pallets
Since these items are over 7 feet long, they’ll be delivered on a pallet. Sometimes the freight company will offer to keep the pallet after delivery if you don’t want to hang onto it. Even if they don’t offer, it never hurts to ask if they can haul it away for you. Otherwise, if you decide to keep it, there are a lot of DIY projects that involve pallets.
One thing to anticipate is that you’ll likely have to unload this yourself. The delivery driver isn’t required to assist with this, although they may offer. You may want to have help with this process ahead of time to create a less stressful experience.
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
This is one of the most important steps in your receiving journey. Make sure you don’t keep any damaged items or get stuck not being able to rectify any problems.
Be sure to take detailed notes and many pictures. You’ll want to document any missing pieces and either note or reject any damaged products. For a more in-depth look at what this process looks like, check out our guide to receiving a playset shipment linked above in this article.
Box Weight and Dimensions
The Lakewood model arrives in 3 boxes. While this doesn’t sound like a lot, these are large boxes, so you’ll want the help of a friend. The largest box is 125 lbs, so that’s where you’ll likely need the most help. The other boxes are 52 and 48 lbs.
Remember, that large box is also 7 feet long, so consider that when enlisting some assistance from family and friends.
Installing a playset can seem daunting. Unless you’re experienced with this type of thing, it can be overwhelming with the number of pieces and the fact that your kids will be playing on it, so you want to do everything right. With four stars, this Lakewood model isn’t the most complicated build, so you should be able to set it up easily. Be prepared to invest time and care into following the instructions.
No need to fret, though. Installation is a process, that’s for sure, but it isn’t impossible. Thankfully, Backyard Discovery installations boast lighter lifts, and that’s especially the case with this more basic playset. For a more in-depth look at the installation, check out our guide to installing a playset.
Our Lakewood verdict: While Backyard Discovery has put much effort into making this process as painless as possible, it’s best to expect that it’ll be somewhat difficult. It’s doable, but you’ll want to make sure to follow directions and slow down to allow time to double-check each step.
They offer an app called Bilt to help you through the process, which can keep you feeling more organized and capable. This app is interactive and can walk you through the process step-by-step with 3D images and detailed instructions.
Installing a playset is something that requires the proper tools. Don’t skimp on these! If you don’t have something listed, we recommend borrowing them from a friend or adding them to your garage’s existing toolbox, as they can be handy for future projects.
Here’s what you need:
- Phillips Head Drill Attachment
- Open End Wrenches 1/2"
- Phillips Screwdriver
- 1/8"", 3/8"" & 7/16"" Drill Bits
- 1/2" Deep Sockets
- Claw Hammer
- Rubber Mallet - Optional, but recommended
- Tape Measure
- Electric drill
To ensure your playset is secure and stable, ensure these tools are on hand before attempting installation. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re trying to get by with similar tools that aren’t quite right. This is a big project that requires some care when it comes to details.
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
This isn’t the most time-consuming playset to put together, but you’ll want to allow plenty of time to go slow. We recommend giving yourself a full day of work to finish it. That said, it’s a good idea to start on a Saturday (or a day when you have the following day off), just in case you need more time to complete it the next day.
Quality of Directions
The directions for installing this Lakewood playset are well-written, thank goodness. They are plain and dense, as instruction manuals tend to be. Staying organized and taking things one step at a time is key to getting the most from these straightforward directions.
This set has a 25’ by 27’ usage zone. Keep in mind that this is the minimum required amount of space, but it’s ideal to have adequate space around this area for running and playing around the playset. Look around for buildings and trees when choosing the spot for your playset.
For height, this playset requires nine feet, and it’s rounded. Be sure to look up towards this height to account for power lines, trees, awnings, or anything that may impede this space. Provide space for the swings to swing out at their maximum height.
Stability & Durability
Backyard Discovery isn’t the most heavy-duty option available, but it’s a solid choice. They aren’t low quality, though. We find they often come in around average quality. This Lakewood model doesn’t pack as much stability as other models have, mainly due to its small footprint and lesser price tag.
Our Lakewood verdict: At two stars, this isn’t the Lakewood’s best quality. That said, this is one of the smaller and less expensive ones. The stability and durability are less than their more expensive, larger models, but it can still get a lot of fun before needing to be replaced.
Joints & Hardware
In general, the joints and hardware are pretty average. It’s a collection of generic nuts and bolts with screws. The plate for the swing beam is sufficient, but it doesn’t have a heavy-duty feel. It’ll get the job done and keep the playset safe, but it’s pretty average and nothing to get too excited over.
The Lakewood is made of 100% cedar, so it’s naturally tight. The thickness of the swing beam is 2’ by 5.25’, but the wood is solid with a tight knot structure. This beam size is relatively small for a swing beam, although it’s sufficient for this size of a playset. The rest of the wood is average as well. It’s fine for a small playset but not the best out there.
The thickness of the plastic pieces is pretty average. These pieces should easily support your kids just fine, although the durability of the plastic isn’t a sure thing. The wave slide may not last long because it’s three separate pieces. These are also less durable than slides that come in one piece. They also don’t slide as smoothly.
Wood Stain & Finish
The wood stain and finish look great. They're smoothly spread, which gives the playset a clean, professional look. The accent colors are decent as well.
When the stain starts to fade over time, it will require some attention, though. When you notice fading, you can restore it by applying new paint and stain. When that time comes, take a peek at our guide on how to restore a playset for more detailed instructions.
All playsets have weight limits based on the amount of weight the materials can handle without buckling.
The weight limits for the Lakewood playset are as follows:
- 150 lbs maximum per child (individual activities)
- 120 lbs maximum per child (joint activities)
- 9 children total
Keep these weight limits in mind as your children use this playset for safety reasons. It’s a good idea not to go over these limits for the safety of everyone involved.
This playset won’t need an unreasonable amount of ongoing maintenance, although it will likely need some. You’re saving money on the front end with this model, but you will have to give it some love to keep it in decent shape as it ages.
Playground maintenance is important both for the safety of the children using it and for the durability of the set. For a straightforward guide to maintaining your playset, check out our playground maintenance checklist.
This is the most important part for your kids: how fun is it? These play elements will determine how much use your kids make of this playset, so it’s a big category. Lakewood has the important parts, of course, with a slide and swings, but let’s see how the other elements stack up.
To arrive at our verdict, we considered the ups, downs, and acrosses, the swings, social and solo play accessories, and roof features. We put all of this together to give you an idea of how much fun your kids might have with this playset.
Our Lakewood verdict: This Lakewood model pulls in four stars for its play elements, which means your kids will have a lot of fun! With its small layout, this playset features the basics and some unique features, such as the acrobat bar and side snack window.
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
There isn’t much to judge, just the ladder and basic slide.
That said, the slide is speedy, so your kids will love being able to zoom down fast! And your little climbers will love the step ladder, which has flat steps for easy climbing. Even your littlest playmates will love climbing up and down.
Swings are always a hit with kids, so you can’t go wrong here. And while unique swing styles are super fun, kids can have a lot of fun with just the basic versions.
This model boasts three swing positions, including two belt swings and an acrobat bar in the middle. The setup is fun because your kiddos can swing together while others play in the other areas.
Social Play Accessories
For a budget playset, the bench and side snack window are nice touches to encourage group play. Although the features are basic, they’re thoughtful and encourage children to play with each other and make up fun games.
For social play, this playset includes a picnic table for pretend play, as well as a door to the little clubhouse at the bottom. If you have kids who love to play pretend, these features will have them exploring their imaginations for hours.
Solo Play Accessories
There isn’t much for solo play accessories with this playset, unfortunately. All playsets can be used solo, of course. Swings and slides are plenty of fun by yourself! This playset works much better with a group of kids or siblings instead of a solo child. Its features are more straightforward than some more pricey options.
If you have an only child, there are plenty of imaginative games to play, and parents can even get in on the action. That bench and snack window could be the setting for plenty of make-believe games between a parent and child. Or, it can be used when your child has friends or family over.
The more, the merrier!
Roof & Kit Options
There isn’t much to consider for the roof with this playset, although it has a little tarp coverage over the top of the fort area. This provides a little shade and a little rain coverage, although not much else. Considering the cost-effectiveness of this playset, these are great features and give the ensemble a more adventurous look with a pop of color.
The purpose of the roof is to prevent sun exposure more so than to protect from weather. Your kids won’t be outside playing on their playset in the rain or snow. The little awning provides some sun protection for the fort and the little clubhouse area.
Price & Value
Alright, now you’re well-versed on the ins and outs of the Lakewood playset. What does it mean for your budget with a price tag of $800-900? It seems spendy at first glance, but is it worth it?
Let’s take a closer look.
Our Lakewood verdict: At three stars, this is a solid value for your money, although not the best you could find. Backyard Discovery’s playsets come in above average, but this model is a basic option. Expectations for value should match the price point we’re looking at, which is near the bottom.
Backyard Discovery’s warranty isn’t the best. When thinking about value, it’s also important to remember the time and effort put into assembling any playset. A high note with Lakewood, though, is that shipping is free!
You get what you pay for, so this playset is a good overall value at under $1,000. That’s cheap for a playset your kids will probably spend hours playing with. If you have multiple children, this is a good investment.
Backyard Discovery will include free shipping in the cost of your order, but it’s not free. This cost is figured into your purchase price. That’s all well and good when making the purchase, but what if you need to return it? Be sure to check out the return policy. It’s not free when you look into the details. There are typically no free returns, so that’s something to consider.
Especially with the way the economy is right now, transportation rates are on the rise. This could cost around $150-200 to ship if you return it.
If you’re looking for someone to install it for you, you may be able to find someone to agree to do it for $300-400, but it will likely be hard to find good labor at this low cost. The labor cost to install this playset will cost around $500. Remember, this is hard work. What is your time worth?
This will take a day or so to install, so you’ll have to weigh the cost of your time to do it yourself against the cost to pay someone else to install it for you.
Backyard Discovery has made improvements to its warranty, but it still isn’t anything to get excited over.
They offer the following:
- 5-year warranty on decay
- 2-year warranty on workmanship for the wood
This is a marked improvement, considering it used to be a sliding scale. This meant that the warranty coverage became worse over time, which wasn’t great for the customer.
Beware, this warranty doesn’t cover certain issues. These include:
- Damage caused by bad weather
- Issues caused by regular maintenance done improperly
- Anything they consider natural
At 3.4 stars, this is an okay set for Backyard Discovery. It’s not the best playset they offer, but it’s a pretty solid choice and a great option if you’re looking for a budget playset. It also made our Short List of the best small playsets of the year; we think it's pretty good looking.
If you’re looking for a straightforward playset where your kids can expend their energy without going bankrupt trying to afford the best one, this is a wonderful option. With simple features and a few unique add-ons, your kiddos will have a blast exploring and building their creativity.
Thank you for reading our comprehensive deep dive into the Backyard Discovery Lakewood all-cedar wooden swing set!