With the recent fence having been put around our yard, I was ready to have some things in our yard that I’ve been resistant to until now because I was concerned about the high likelihood of our yard being used in our absence without permission by neighborhood children who I don’t know.
Last week we bought a very large playset! It has three regular swings, a rope swing, a trapeze swing, and a large fort area (5′ x 6′) with a ladder leading up to it and a slide coming down from it. (I’m also planning to buy a toddler swing tomorrow so the littles, ages 1 and 2.5, can swing safely and comfortably without needing to be held on someone’s lap.) Sets like these are priced at about $3000-4000 new, and used are still about $500-1000. That was way more than I could spend.
When I saw the ad on CL, the description was accurate but the angle of the picture showed only the fort, not the other features. I think that people are so visual nowadays and dependent on pictures that it’s the reason this set, priced at only $100, wasn’t snapped up for the amazing deal it was (I saw how fast most inexpensively priced playsets/swing sets were sold). And that’s why I think I was only the second person to show any interest (the first decided he didn’t want it), and when I showed up in person and offered $80 for it, the seller immediately accepted. (I had to buy some hardware and lumber that added to the cost, about another $40.)
The owner had built it himself based on a unit built by a well-known (and expensive!) playset company (Rainbow), and he did a fantastic job. It was very solidly made! We spent 3 hours taking it apart, and then a lot more hours putting it back together. A big part of why it took so long to rebuild was that I needed to change the configuration to make the best use of our space, which meant redesigning it a bit. And we didn’t have pictures or diagrams to assist us in remembering how things were before it was dismantled, which made it more challenging.
My ds16, who is extremely good with building, renovations, etc, found it very frustrating to make structural changes as we were going along to something someone else had built (he has no problem doing it with his own ideas) – we couldn’t make the changes in advance because we weren’t sure which boards went where! So it meant duplicating our time and effort several times. Fortunately together we made a good team; he put in the sweat and muscle and I told him what to do.
Amazingly, this set that was in a huge backyard before we bought it actually fits in my side yard. Not only does it fit, it fits perfectly there! Until we fenced the yard in, I thought of my side yard as a sliver of land that was basically big enough to walk from the front yard to the back. The only thing I had there was a few blueberry bushes along the pathway (which I’ve recently moved since being right next to a swingset is a recipe for a short lived plant!), and a narrow bed of strawberries at one end.
Fencing the yard helped me see that it was actually usable space. I don’t know if most people would have thought it realistic to put this large a set in so small a space, but it really worked out well. I’d estimate it’s about 26 feet long, 6 feet deep, with a swing depth of closer to 12′. I’m amazed that even the older kids can swing pretty high with no restriction, other than to pull their legs in when they go backwards (so they don’t graze the fence).
It was honestly a lot of work, and it’s been a busy time so it felt like even more work than if we had tackled this project at a very quiet time of year. But it’s so rewarding to have finished it and to watch all of our kids enjoying it. We were able to transform what was basically dead space into a great play area!