How to Level a Leaning Swing Set
For many, installing a swing set is a first and understandably it can be a tricky task. Perhaps you have already given the assembly a crack and are now seeing some structural issues or you are looking to do some research before taking on the challenge. When purchasing a swing set it is important to firstly assess the ground where the swing set will sit.
Similar to building a structure, proper site preparation is needed to ensure the swing set is sitting on a safe and even level ground, this is especially relevant if a slide is included in the set. If the swing set is not built on level ground, too much stress may be placed on the joints, hardware, or the wood itself, that it was not designed to withstand. An uneven swing set can pose safety concerns for your children while they play. If you are looking to fix a leaning swing set there are some easy solutions, otherwise if you are looking to build your swing set on a hill or significantly uneven ground there are a couple of methods that will work for every backyard.
Finding The Problem
So, you’ve assembled your swing set and its leaning to one side? First things first, let's figure out which way the swing set is leaning. To do this you will need a spirit level. Lay your spirit level flat across the horizontal top beam to see if is leaning to the left or the right. Next, lay your spirit level on each brace on the A-frame to see if your swing set is leaning forwards or backwards. This method will tell you which leg or legs need to be adjusted to level your swing set. Your swing set may be leaning if the feet are sinking into the ground which can also be fixed.
Solutions For Slightly Uneven Surfaces
Before making any changes to the ground it is worth checking the bolts holding the A-frames and top beam, which may have become loose if you’ve had your swing set for a few years. If you have a wooden swing set with areas that are showing signs of decay then the wood may be deteriorating and need to be replaced.
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Cement or Levelling Block: A levelling block is a quick, easy and cost friendly fix for a slightly leaning swing set or frame that is sinking into the ground. A support block will add some height to your ground and is effective when not all ground under the swing set needs to be levelled only locations where the legs touch the ground. If choosing this option, it is worth adding some type of protective covering over the blocks to prevent tripping hazards. Sand or completely burying the block are both good options. It is important to note, a cement or levelling block will not support swing sets that require anchoring.
Digging a hole to even level: Another easy fix is to dig a hole at the feet of the swing set to lower the tilting foot post into the soil. This will remove the excess dirt that is causing your yard to be uneven and is much easier than relevelling the entire area. To keep the foot firmly in place, cement can be poured into the hole also ensuring the foot doesn't sink further into the hole. However, this is not recommended for a timber frame as water can get trapped inside the timber post, creating issues down the track. Instead, a cement or levelling block with a suitable anchor kit or bracket is recommended for wooden swing sets.
Solutions For Significantly Uneven Surfaces
Retaining Walls: For significant levelling which may be needed if you are wanting to set up your swing set on a hill, building a retaining wall could be your best option. Retaining walls are used to support soil laterally and can be retained at different levels on two sides. More work and materials are required to build a retaining wall but it is one of the best options for finding level ground on a hill. Bonus, they look great too!
Level the backyard yourself: Levelling the backyard is a challenging and strenuous task for most people, but if you feel up for the challenge then it is definitely achievable. Whilst this type of site prep doesn’t require any fancy equipment it will take some time to do properly. You will need to start by staking out the 4 corners of your backyard that need to be levelled, then connect the stakes with string. This will help to check the ground is level once you begin distributing the soil. Once the ground has been levelled, add rubber or wooden mulch for increased protection. It is suggested to research or seek the advice of a professional before getting started.
Have the yard levelled by a professional: This is the most expensive option but can be the most convenient if your backyard has steep hills. After reading this article if you are still not confident or are unsure on how to complete any of the suggested tasks then a professional may be your best option.
Fixing a leaning swing set may be easier than you think. Most problems are caused by feet sinking into the ground or slightly uneven ground that can be easily fixed with a levelling block. If you are preparing to bring a swing set into your backyard then it is best to assess the landing area in your backyard and complete any necessary backyard prep before setting up. Backyards with big slopes don’t have to miss out on the fun of having a swing set in the backyard. Levelling your yard or building a retaining wall is a viable option that can be completed by yourself or a professional.
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