Playset / Swingset or Not Worth It?

Updated on March 21, 2013
N.T. asks from Downers Grove, IL
19 answers

We are trying to decide whether we want to buy a big playset/ swingset for our kids. We have a modest size backyard, so if we get a decent one that they can grow into, it will take up a large portion of our available yard. Still space to run around, but you couldn't have a football game or anything like that. To those who've bought these in the past, do you regret it or feel it was worth the money? I go back on forth on whether we should just get a little playhouse/clubhouse and some other yard activities (trampoline? small pool?) and change them as the kids get older. My kids are almost 3 and 4.5, so lots of backyard time ahead of us! We do live near parks and the elementary school (basketball court), so plenty of playgrounds nearby. Seems like a nice idea to let them run into the backyard to swing and slide, but not sure if it's worth the money, space, and maintenance!

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answers from Chicago on

We went halfsies on one with my parents when my oldest was 3. She probably played on it the most out of the three kids. The youngest almost never gets to play on it, as the older two want to go to parks all the time. Even though he's only 3.5, I'm thinking of taking it down. We'd be able to put up a volleyball net and make better use of the yard if it were gone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've battled this as well and so far I have not caved in and bought one. I did get a trampoline and they like that but it's being bounced on less and less so the $150 I spent on it is not too much of a loss considering the $1500 it could cost for a playset (or more). I think I'm going to stick to the park and backyard play because I've lived without it for 11 years now, I think the three year old can do without as well.

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answers from Houston on

My girls are 5 and 2.5 and they love ours, especially the slide. They can't swing by themselves yet and I don't always feel like pushing them, but they do want to swing. We don't enjoy our neighborhood park very much because inevitably, someone always has to pee or poop shortly after arriving and there aren't any bathrooms there. Such a hassle to walk back home or buckle into car seats, unbuckle to potty, then buckle back in and drive back to the park. We also have a playhouse and a sand box that they play with just as much (if not more) as the play set. They also have a small trampoline that doesn't get as much use as I thought it would. They loved our 2 ft. Deep pool in the summer time, but we went to the neighborhood pool so much that we decided to get rid of it. (Wasn't worth the maintenance). They still love to play in the water though. I think it depends on the child and what's available to you locally elsewhere that you have access to. My friend has a great park and splash pad within a 2 minute walk of her house (with restrooms at park) and the only outdoor toys they have are their bikes and sidewalk chalk, and lots of kids/friends on their street to play with. We don't have any kids to play with right outside our door, so we have more toys in our back yard to play with.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We got ours when the kids were 2, 5 and 7.
Had it for almost ten years and it was well worth it, especially when friends and cousins came over.
It was a nice one, solid wood painted dark green, 2 swings, a trapeze bar with rings and a two person horsey swing, monkey bars across the top and no slide.
I hated to get rid of it (a symbol of my kids growing up, boo!) but we passed it on to the younger cousins. It's nice to get to see it in use again when we go over there to visit :-)

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answers from Chicago on

I live near you, in Westmont, and we have 3 playgrounds within walking distance of our home. We have 3 boys, ages 6, almost 4, and almost 2, and have resisted the urge to buy a swingset. I like having our back yard wide open for playing--we do wiffle ball, t-ball, soccer, toss a football, etc out there. Not having a playset forces me, an introvert, to get out of my yard and go socialize with neighbors. It is good for us. Both of my nextdoor neighbors have swingsets, but now that those girls are older (about age 12), they want to be at the park with the other kids.

eta: we have an inflatable trampoline (from One Step Ahead), an inflatable Intex pool, a small sandbox, and a sand and water table. We also keep ride-on toys that my kids use on our concrete slab patio. We also set up sprinklers. That pretty much keeps my kids occupied when we are in the backyard.

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answers from Detroit on

I bet initially they would play with it alot but in a short time they would ignore it.

we make it an adventure to walk to the park.. it is 2 blocks away and they never get tired of walking to the park.

we get a small backyrad pool every year.. and the first day we fill it up they are so excited and stay int he cold pool forever.. but by end of july or august they are done with the pool and ignore it..

kids get bored withi stuff pretty quick.. if there are neighborhood parks i would skip the expense.

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answers from Washington DC on

You could go with a model that is metal and smaller/portable. I've seen "please come take this swingset" on Freecycle. Ours is wooden, that we assembled ourselves when SD was 8. She's 18 now and has used it off and one during that time, and now DD uses it. I expect it to gain popularity in the next few years and we'll probably take it down when she's a teen. We don't do much to maintain it. Wipe it off now and then. Replaced parts a tree fell on. It's held up well.

The downside for DD is that there is a playground about a mile away and if she's there, she meets new friends. But if she's home, she gets to see more of her neighbor friend. If your kids are likely to bring home friends, that's another reason to get one. I would put a swingset ahead of a pool or trampoline.

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answers from Odessa on

I bought a Little Tikes Endless Adventures(the one with the slide and fort over the sandbox, two swings, and a glider). It looked great after 8 years and worked for ages 1-10. It was used more than you could imagine. It was worth it. Toys R Us has open box and special sales at times.

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answers from Washington DC on

My kids are 9, 7, and 6. They use our swingset year round. It's not super fancy, but perfect for them. It's got 2 swings, a set of rings, a glider, and a slide. My parents have a bigger one that will last them longer, but it was easily 4 to 5 times the cost. However, it has monkey bars, a large fort, a rock wall, etc...but they will always use it I think.

We have a park and basketball court in our neighborhood, exactly .5 miles from our house - we walk there a lot in nice weather. But still, it's nice to have one at home. We paid about $500 for ours...the Amish built it and that sucker will never fall apart :).

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answers from Grand Forks on

If you have playgrounds nearby then a backyard set is probably not worth it. The kids will likely want to go to the playground where the other kids are playing.

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answers from Chicago on

My kids use our swing-set year round. When there is snow, they like to push the snow off the slides. In the summer, the swing-set turns into a fire station, a hide away, etc.

I found mine on free-cycle. Check craigslist, and aim for a true high end one, one that they will grow into for years to come.

I love my swing-set. I kick them outdoors before dinner every night, and they play while I cook.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Here is a link to a question much like yours a few days ago:

We did have one and it was well used by daughter and her friends. Most all of the homes in our neighborhood with children do have them. We bought a highend one around $2500, had it professionally leveled and installed and never had an issue.

We back up to an 85 acre wooded park with trails, wildlife, etc and we enjoy that as well. The trail is about 1/8 of a mile behind my house and you can't see it for the woods but we have access points to the trail which are a short walk.

We never had a regret regarding our swingset purchase. You can read my response on the above link as well.

Good luck.

I sold it about 3 yrs ago to a mom here on Mamapedia.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

we bought ours when the girls were 2 and 5. I run a home daycare so I did spend more then most people, ten thousand dollars between the climber and rubber mulch, but even if I didn't have the daycare I would not regret the purchase at all. The grade school is a 7 minute walk if we are going at a preschooler pace, the next closest playground is a mile away and it is more a bike ride then a walk away. So pretty close playgrounds but not out our back door. The play value the girls got, the amount of hours each day that they played out there, the peace of mind knowing that they were safe in my backyard and didn't need to go elsewhere for fun, the ease of just sending them out the back door and listening from inside or watching as I did dishes, the joy they got from the set - all of that made it worth double what I paid. We've had it 8 1/2 years now and they still go out there to climb and swing when the weather is nice.

Now granted our yard is big, but the climber and sandbox get 80% of the play time, maybe even more.

FYI - we designed our own at Cedarworks, it has a curly slide, a long slide and a toddler sized slide, a rock wall, rope wall, spinning rope thing, a tunnel over the swings, 3 swings (wish I had gotten four, cause if each girl has a friend over we don't have enough swings), an eagle's nest and monkey bars besides all the other climbing stuff normally on playsets. We have ONCE had to tighten bolts on it. Never have had a splinter, never had to powerwash or stain it or any treatments of any kind.



answers from New London on

It depends how much time you spend outside, too.

We bought a second hand swing set, but, I always found myself going to the local park and meeting friends there.

My favorite (and most used) toys for the kids when they were little:
Step 2 rollercoaster and a large, plastic Step 2 slide. I took BOTH of these toys inside during the winter.

It also depends on what your kids will like. My first daughter LOVED the water/swimming. My second one liked to sit on the floor and play with toys/pretend play.

When they got older, I bought an ice hockey table. They used it five times.



answers from Louisville on

Get your swingset for your yard and save the bigger playsets for a "new" thing for them to play on at parks and such!


answers from Joplin on

We had wanted to get a playground or swingset for my mom's due to there being 15 grandchildren from the ages of newborn to 11. Crazy i know! But once we realized that even though there are the little ones, it's taking away from the older ones because they wouldn't have the room to play even though the little ones would. We decided not to do it and if we wanted to play on equipment like this, we'll just take them to the elementary school a few blocks away. But even though they'll grow into it, they'll grow out of it as quickly as they grew into it



answers from Atlanta on

I'd go with having more room for running around and playhouse, pool since you have a playground so close. This way they kind of the best of both worlds, the playground at the school and the little house and pool at home.
You could get a rope ladder to hang from a tree and a few things like that too and add things to the playhouse like a little deck, table/chairs. I'm assuming you're talking about a home built one.

Just some thoughts on it



answers from Washington DC on

My parents bought us one from Walmart. Here is the link for it.
It has 4 swings, a slide and a teeter-toter. My kids still use the swings after 3 years, the slide, not really.

Things to keep in mind.
Kids WILL get too tall for any enclosed area. So if you are looking at a set with a covered area (usually the entrance to the slide), your kids WILL get to tall @ age 7 to stand up in it.

Kids will get board with/outgrow a slide pretty quick, because again, as they grow, the trip isn't as long.


answers from Washington DC on

anything has money, space and maintenance issues, so unless you regularly have football games or other activities that require lots of free space, i think an in-yard activity center of some sort is well worth it. we put in a swingset/gym for our boys when they were little and they really got a lot of use out of it.
they wanted a trampoline when we moved to the farm, but my nerves (and our insurance premiums) wouldn't handle it. fortunately this place came with an above-ground pool. but truth to tell, it's way more my thing than anyone else's. i thought the boys would love it, but they never did get in that much. i'm in that sucker every day, usually multiple times, all summer long.
playhouses tend to be exciting initially, but then they sit. i would not choose that.
if your parks offer a reasonably accessible variety of swingsets and slides, you may want to use your space for a trampoline, or pool. but i suspect you'll get the most bang for your buck by putting in a good swingset with some different activities attached.

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