Are Tree Swings Safe?

You want to put fun things in your yard to play on. You want those things to be safe. You want to know that you have made the right decision. Just like anything, swings have a inherent risk. Can those risk be mitigated? These are the same things I think about when installing something for my kids to play on.

Are tree swings safe? Tree swings are safe if you set them up correctly. You have to choose the right tree and branch. You must select the right kind of rope. The area under and around your swing must be prepared for safety. Small children must be supervised when playing on and around a tree swing.

If you do all of these things correctly, a tree swing is just as safe as any other swing.

Selecting the right tree

There are many kind of trees you can put your swing in. There are some general guidelines you should consider. First, you should choose a tree type that can support a swing. Then, you have to inspect the trees health and overall strength.

Type of tree

Hardwood trees are generally the best type of trees for a swing. Their wood is more dense and stronger in most cases. Softwood trees are less dense. All hard wood trees are not suited for a tree swing. The best trees for swings are oak, maple, beech, ash, sycamore, and hickory. Also, cedar is a softwood that you can hang your swing in.

There are trees you should definitely avoid. These trees are pine, fir, willow, and poplar.

Health of your tree

For your tree to be safe, it must be healthy. Check your tree for any dry rot. Check your tree for hollowing by gently, but firmly, hitting it with a soft mallet or hammer. Also, look for bug damage or infestation. Finally, check your tree for mold or fungus.

If your tree is not healthy, don’t hang a swing on it. Take the proper steps to get it in good health. If you are unsure what to do for it, contact an arborist or horticulturist for help.

Selecting a safe branch

Tree branch selection is just as important as selecting a tree. You have to make sure your branch is health and strong for it to be safe. You may not be able to climb up and inspect the branch you want to use. There are some things you can do to make sure it is safe for a swing.

First, make sure your branch is big enough to support a swing. Your branch should be at least 8″ in diameter for a tree swing to be hung on it.

Second, visually inspect the branch for dry rot, bug damage, mold, and fungus. If you can’t see with your eyes from the ground, get a pair of binoculars. If you want to see all the way around the branch, you can use a drone with a camera attached to it.

Third, do a load test on the branch. Place a rope over the branch and pull down on it. Start out by putting a gentle load on it. Once it has proven that it can take the first load, put a heavier load on it. Continue doing this gradually until you have reach a load that is slightly more than the max load you will put on the swing.

Choosing a safe rope

Many people think any rope will be good for a swing. This is not true. If you want your rope to last a long time and be safe, you have to choose the right rope for your swing.

The best rope to use for a swing in polyester rope. It is strong, so you don’t have to worry about it popping. It has a high UV resistance which protects it from harsh sunlight. It holds up well in wet conditions. It is not prone to deteriorating in cold climates. Polyester rope is also highly resistant to stretch.

Polypropylene is a good alternative, but it has some drawbacks. It should be used where there will not be extreme weather conditions. Strong sunlight beating directly on it will damage it over time. Also, freezing temperatures can cause it to become brittle. Some people also complain that it is slippery because it is plastic. If the swing is going to be in a shaded area then polypropylene rope is a safe choice.

Safe Knot

Your swing has to be securely tied to a tree. One of the best knots you can use is the running bowline. The bowline is a safe and secure knot. A running bowline is a bowline knot with the end fed back through the knot’s loop to create a noose.

Follow these steps to secure your rope to the branch you have selected. Once your rope is over the branch, tie a bowline knot on one end. Then slip the other end of the rope through the knot. Finally, pull on the rope end that doesn’t have the knot until the noose is snug against the branch.

Preparing the ground for safety

It is extremely important that you make the ground under and around your swing safe. There are a bunch of different ways you can prepare the ground. You can use any of the following materials to make the ground safe: rubber mulch, rubber mats, sand, artificial wood fibers, artificial grass, natural grass, and pea gravel. Each of these perform differently. Check with the manufacturer of any product you get for correct installation and use.

Also, be sure to clear the area around and under your swing. You don’t want a rider getting on or off of the swing to get hurt on any sharp object, debris, or roots.

Safe distance

You should make sure your swing is a safe distance from any objects that your riders can run into. Object you should consider are the trunk of the tree you are handing the swing on, other trees, a house, fence, power lines, swimming pool, and any other object that may hurt your rider.

Safety of children

You have to be extra careful with children playing with or around a swing. Anyone riding a swing can fall off. Children may be less experienced at holding on to a rope, and may be more prone to fall off. Also, be sure that children on the ground learn to be clear of the swinging area when someone else is swinging. Teach children to make certain no one is in the swinging area before they swing. Teach them how to mount and dismount the swing safely.

Ropes can be very dangerous. Young children should be monitored when there is a tree swing in the area.

Conclusion

As with all swings, tree swings can be safe. You must take the proper precautions to ensure your swing operates safely. Select a good, strong tree and branch. Be sure to use the right rope and knot. Check the ground below and the swing’s distance from any potentially dangerous object. And be watchful of your little ones. If you take care of all these things, your tree swing will be a happy and safe one.