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How to Choose the Right Backyard Play Equipment

by Francine Huff, All About Lawns Columnist

What child doesn't love climbing and swinging on jungle gyms, swing sets, and other outdoor equipment? With the right backyard play equipment you can give your kids hours of fun and recreation. Do you research before spending money since there is a wide variety of play sets that range in price and quality.

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Choose Quality Materials
Whether you plan to build backyard play equipment yourself or purchase a set from a dealer, it's important to invest in quality materials. Redwood and cedar are generally the best bet for wooden play sets. Pine is also a popular choice. Avoid wood covered with PVC because it can rot on the inside. Backyard play equipment made from natural wood without any preservatives typically needs to be cleaned and stained.

Safety Is Important
You should build your backyard play equipment on a flat surface of your lawn. Laying down wood or rubber mulch over the lawn can help absorb some of the shock. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises to use at least 9 inches of wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber for backyard play equipment that is up to 7 feet high. If you have swings, the surfacing should extend to twice the height of the suspending bar in the back and front.

Choose Age-Appropriate Features
Look for activities that appeal to your child's age and abilities. To get the most value, look for a set that can be modified as your child grows. Toddlers like to climb and slide, but make sure you don't build a set that's too tall for them. Older kids may enjoy swings, gliders, and rock climbing walls.


About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.

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