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A Guide to Buying Your First Backyard Playground

June 23rd, 2011

There are many benefits to having your own little playground system in your backyard. It is the perfect gift for your kids. You can watch them play for hours in the safety of your backyard with your supervision. Adult friends can come over with their kids and they are occupied and having fun for hours. Here are a few things to consider when making that purchase.

First and foremost, buy the appropriate size play set for your yard. Do not buy a system that will overtake you yard and also not include what we call in the industry “safe area”. The safe area is several feet (at least 10′) around the perimeter of the play set so that no one runs into something else and hurts themselves. Like any piece of furniture indoors, you should always measure the unit and measure the space.

Do not just buy a play set because it is cheap. Do a little research online about the manufacturer. The age of the internet is helpful in many ways, one if which you can find out a lot about any given company. Do a Google search on the brand name or manufacturer’s name and see if there are any bad reviews. You might also want to see if it is imported. Replacement parts might be harder to come by in such a scenario.

Check to see what kind of warranty the play set has. The strongest of materials will somehow always get a little damage when kids are part of the equation. You want to make sure you are buying a piece of equipment that a company stands behind with a level of guaranteed customer satisfaction that comforts the buyer.

Consider the material you are buying. Is it plastic? Wood? Cedar is a popular material for residential playgrounds but will need a bit of maintenance over time because it is a natural material. Plastic can sometimes be fabricated cheaply to where your new play system might be old and broken within a few years. Recycled plastic lumber is a pretty amazing material but can be a bit pricier. If you have the budget for it, go for it.

Also, you want to buy a play set that will intrigue your child for awhile. If your child is about to exit the toddler period, don’t buy a toddler play system. It will become an artifact in your backyard in a year. Try to get a play set that is versatile and classic with features such as a tire swing, slide, sandbox, etc. so that there are many options and activities for your children. There are so many well designed play systems out there that include several activities that will offer hours and hours of fun.

Who will install your play system? Many residential play systems arrive via freight unassembled or in several boxes if you buy it off the shelf. You think an Ikea bookshelf is tricky, imagine a playground. Before you buy, analyze your resources. Is your partner savvy at putting things together? Will you have helpful hands? If not, consider looking up an installation service.

Lee is product manager of commercial and residential playground company TerraBound Solutions, Inc. specializing in outdoor play systems, and playground equipment such as swings, slides, spring riders, merry-go-rounds and much, much more!

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