Swing Set or Sandbox?

Updated on May 14, 2014
R.R. asks from Southborough, MA
23 answers

We recently moved and were looking to add something to the backyard for our kids, ages two and five. We have a smallish backyard and currently have a Little Tikes playhouse and climbing/slide structure, which I'm and they're happy with. They love sandboxes, so I was initially thinking of adding one (w/ a cover), but some family members, including my husband, think a swing set would be more useful. I know there are some that even come with sandboxes.

My hesitation is that we may only be in this house for five years and because my children are on the young side I'm not sure they'll get as much use out of a swing set right now (my two year old doesn't like swings currently), whereas I know they'll both use the other things. Plus, a swing set is pricier, but I'm open to being persuaded either way! Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

I detest sandboxes. They are just big litter boxes for cats. And like others have said, covered or not, bugs and ants still get in. I also don't like sand in hair and in their clothes. I just HATE sandboxes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

We have both a sandbox and a swing set. I despise that sandbox. My 3 yo daughter loves to play in it, and even though it's covered when not in use, bugs and ants still get in it. She got bit on her foot by an ant in the sandbox a couple of weeks ago (AFTER I cleaned it out thoroughly), and now won't go near it. Hopefully, she'll get over it and go back in. :(
Meanwhile, the swing set is in high demand by both my 7 and 3 yo.
I'd say go with the swing set. When we moved a couple of years ago, we took it apart and moved it, too!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Colorado Springs on

A swing set gives more physical exercise. If you're in your house for five years, your children will get lots of use out of a swing set! Your two-year-old will enjoy the swings as the weeks go by. It will be a good investment. If you can get one with a sandbox, so much the better. Make sure the sandbox has a cover that works well and is easy for you to move on and off.

Let your friends and neighbors know you're looking for a swing set in very good condition. You may find someone wanting to give one away.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Swingset, or playhouse (our kids loved theirs). The sandbox is just way too messy, plus it was harder on the yard. I can understand you being wary, since you will soon be moving. We put in ours and the kids only used it for 3 years before we moved, but it was definitely worth every penny. It actually made selling our house easier, since it appealed to a younger family. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have a large playground in our backyard. it is designed to have a sandbox under it. We do not have a sandbox. making sure it is covered all the time isn't something I'd want to do.

My kids will probably get a good 10 years each use out of the swingset. it has a large club house, and two slides. I got it when my oldest was 2, and right now my 14 month old is loving climbing the first ladder and going down the first slide. I would be lost without our playground.

Check craigslist for old swingset (wooden) that people no longer want. We literally got a 10k set for free!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We bought a sandbox last summer. I actually have found that I dread the kids playing in it because then they come in with sand all over them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

A swing set provided our (4) children with more entertainment that a sandbox, by far. My suggestion is to get them a wooden play structure with different activities (monkey bars, slide, etc...). Sandboxes invite cats. They can get the covers off if they really want to. Enough said.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Swing set, definitely

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My kids had the disk swing and loved that thing! But they also had a little picnic table looking, sand and water table that they loved. It was wonderful because they didn't have to sit in the sand and got a bit less in their clothes. It really doesn't take a ton of sand to make it hours of fun. A big plastic tub with sand and a lid is a great way to go.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Two and five are the perfect ages to get a swing set for the next five years in my view.

My daughter is 8 and I don't think she would get on it at this point.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Swingset. We have had both and the swingset got used more. Get one with a slide and fort so they can use it like a treehouse, too!! The sand is too messy and with my kids, they wanted to put water in it then leaves, mulch, etc. I don't mind them getting dirty, but I'd rather it not be every single time they go outside!! My kids are 6.5 and 4.5 now and still love the swingsets at the park and friends houses. We are, in fact, getting one since we recently moved, too. Also, hubby hates sand in the house, clothes, etc!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'd get a swingset for sure. Maybe you can find one with a slide that fits in your yard. We got ours used on craigslist for about 1/3 of the price. Think of how much sand will be in your house if you have a sandbox in your yard.

My kids are 3 and 6 and get a lot of use out of the swingset.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My 4 yo dd has a swing set that she likes to play on, but she absolutely LOOOVES the sandbox.

You could do a small sandbox. I use a $10 plastic swimming pool from Walmart, with a drawstring tarp over it for a cover. It works great.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My kids LOVE the sandbox. My daughter finally started to learn how to swing herself at 4.5 yrs. The water table is also a big hit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I bet you could go on Craigslist and find one of those green turtle sandboxes for $20. Our kids have loved it over the years. Our 8 year old is starting to outgrow it (though he's never been as much of a sandbox kid as our youngest), but our 5 year old uses it all the time.

If you could do both, I would. Our kids could play out there for aa couple ours at a time.

We've never had a problem with cats in our sandbox, but it guess that would depend on whether or not there are outdoor cats in the neighborhood. The biggest reason for the cover on the sandbox is that it can fill with water and wash the sand away. Sand isn't really that expensive, but it's still nice to to have it wash away :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Small swing set w/slide attached.

Great fun. When they are little you can switch out the swing seats for
those infant ones that hold them in better till the 2 yr old is a bit older.
It's like a big plastic seat that kind of cradles their body.

It doesn't have to be a huge structure. Make it w/i your budget. The park
is still fun to go visit & has diff things.

Some structures come w/a sand box. Depends on your budget. You can
always buy a small plastic separate turtle sandbox. Some ppl have
issues w/sand boxes & cats using them as litter boxes. We never did.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We have both but sandboxes are SO much for kids. Yes they get sandy but that's part of being a kid is having messy fun. We have one with a cover and I have never found poop in it or had problems with bugs. We completely replace the sand once a year and stuff it full. Could you hang a swing off a tree? That might be an option too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would vote both-if you can.
When my children were young I had a sand and water play table. It was a hit-but the sand and water was always under the table after play. I ended up using only water and I'm not a huge fan of all the big bubbly plastic toys in the back yard-so I gave it away. When we bought our house we were lucky enough to be given a large wooden play structure (from a family that outgrew it). The first year it was a hit for the clubhouse, slide, and swings. This year I finally convinced SO to add sand underneath the clubhouse(he had expressed many of the negative thoughts below). He said it was the best $40 dollars he spent so far this year!! The kids really enjoy the mess and I don't have to worry about them sneaking my garden tools out to dig in the lawn anymore!!!! We were next door for mothers day (they have a swingset) and all the kids were at our house in the sandbox.
I don't know if it's just a wives tale-but I put 2 cups of cinnamon in with the sand to repel bugs/cats.
Why shouldn't kids get messy??? What's so fun about being clean all the time??

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

In child care our insurance can double if we have a swing set. That's why most don't have them any more.

I'd say if you go with a little tykes play set you can't go wrong. They can also do a climbing toy that has a slide attached and it will last for a long time.

We got a Kangaroo Climber from Sears one year for the kids. It was in the smaller bedroom for the younger kiddo to play on. We have a wooden play set outside. BUT we also had a Little Tykes Barn, a couple of Little Tykes desks for coloring or painting, bikes, skates, balls, at one time we even had a sand and water table from Walmart, and a variety of other toys for only outside.

For an investment of less than $500 you can have the best back yard of all the neighbors. You can buy a little at a time.

For preschoolers I wouldn't get a plain swingset. They won't enjoy that near as much as something they can climb on and slide on and basically use it in a variety of ways.

Sand box is only sand...swing set is only swinging...a climbing toy with a couple of swings is all combined and good for a couple of years.

Once they both get in school, the 2 year old "could" start preschool next year at 3 but at least until he/she starts pre-K they'll like the smaller easy to move and mow stuff. Once they're both in school they'll be ready for the bigger sets that you'll have at a larger house and yard.

So I wouldn't spend over $500. You'll get a chunk of it back when you resell the items but at this age go for the stuff that's age appropriate.


The younger child would love playing with this.



We've had a couple of these and the kids your age love them. We put the bottom of the slide into a medium size hard side pool and the kids loved sliding into the water.

Cheaper at Sears than Little Tykes...and if you order it from Sears it can come in to the store nearest you.


These will entertain the kids for several years to come.



This one is a bundle, 3 different toys.


So my advice is this. Your kids are at that odd age where anything you buy isn't going to be age appropriate in 2 years. They'll want more challenging outdoor toys. A swingset is boring. A sand box is boring when it's the only thing out there. It can be a building block but it's not the only thing they want to do.

A pre-school size/age playset with a variety of things for them to do would serve them for 3-4 years at most.

When you move you'll want to go bigger with a more challenging outdoor area but for now, buy several smaller Little Tyles style things and let them have a lot of variety.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Billings on

Depends on your kids. My boys have a sand PILE, delivered by dump truck. They have been playing in it for YEARS. I don't think they have used our swingset more than 5 times. A sandbox is much more CREATIVE and they can use it in different ways with different tools. Swingsets are kind of for one use only, no imagination needed.


answers from Grand Forks on

I didn't keep a lot of play equipment in the yard because I preferred to take the kids to the playground so there would be other kids for them to play with and people for me to talk to. (We are fortunate to have four playgrounds all within easy walking distance.) The one thing I did keep in the yard was s sandbox. It was good to have something for them to do when I had yard work to do, it didn't take up a lot of space, and it was covered so it was cleaner than the sandbox at the park, A swingset takes up a lot of room in the yard and is pain to mow around. A sandbox can be tucked away into a corner, and when you move a sanbox can easily be moved. Swings are great for kids, and a lot of fun, but every public playground and school yard has them, so why do they need them at home too? A tire swing hanging from a tree limb would be a better idea then a swingset.



answers from Boise on

Do you have a tree with a nice limb? Depot has one rope swings- they are a disc- perfect for the smaller child of about 4 and up. Then you can do both a swing and a sandbox. Or if you do a full swing set, do a sand table..... pickup a used crappy coffee table for a few bucks at a garage sale or craigslist and have your husband put 2X4's all the way around the edge for a lip, then put sand it and some tractors and cars and such. The kids stand at it to play.

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