How to safely hang a tree swing
Tree swings are funny things. They won't get very far, but they can take us back to simpler times. Even if we are not time travelers, swings take us back to our childhood. We want our children to know that such simple joy exists. Hanging swings from branches provides a fun way to enjoy a warm day with the family. A sturdy swing set is often ideal if your kids are active and swing often. It is important to install a tree swing properly to ensure the safety of both the person using it and the tree you use. Here are some tips about how to hang the swing correctly.
Look for a mature tree that looks healthy, meaning the canopy is full of leaves, the trunk has no cracks or holes, and there is no rot or pests. If you are unsure about the health of your tree, ask an expert for professional opinion. Stick with tough hardwood trees like oaks, maples, and figs. Avoid evergreen and fruit trees, which tend to be less sturdy and with limbs that snap easily.
A healthy tree shows no signs of rot or fungus; no cracks, cavities or wood-boring insects. It will have green, spotless, well-shaped leaves; balanced, evenly distributed limbs; and minimal dead or broken branches. Tap the tree with something solid and hear the hollow sound of decay.
As you do your assessment, check overhead for broken limbs dangling from branches or any other threats from above. These must be removed to keep the site safe.
- Pick the right branch
Play it safe by picking a branch that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter, which would be strong enough to hold an adult. The best branches are mostly horizontal. Check branches for signs of rot: missing bark, areas without leaves, cracks, and rot. Pick a limb that is between 10 and 15 feet off the ground. The higher the branch, the longer the rope, the greater the range of motion, and while this feels fun, it may not be safe above 15 feet.
The limb must be healthy. As with the entire tree,symptoms of damage may include cracks or holes, fungus, missing bark, dead or broken branches or limb tips, and sick or missing leaves. Pay particular attention to the junctions of the limbs and trunk for signs of cracks or weak adhesion, including crowding of other limbs. Even after the swing is hung, keep an eye out for changes in the health of the trees and limbs.
- Consider the landing zone
Landing areas for tree swings should be safe and relatively soft. Natural surfaces usually provide adequate cushioning. But rocks, tree stumps and exposed roots can pose risks. Invading branches should be trimmed and the landing area cleaned, either behind or in front of the swing's maximum travel.
Slopes can present their own problems. As the slope decreases, the potential drop height of the swing also increases. The same goes for the chances of a person falling. Flat ground is safer.
Generally, you want to hang the swing as close to the trunk as possible without risking it colliding with the tree. The limb is a long lever. The farther the swing is from the trunk, the more pressure it puts on the limb connection. Typically, you will want to swing 3 to 5 feet from the trunk. The two-rope swing is a large pendulum with a regular path, which means it can be hung close to a tree, at the lower end of the range. Single rope swings have more freedom of movement, which means you need to maintain a greater distance from the trunk.
Now you can enjoy your swing time rest assured.