5 Ways to Have a Swingin’ Summer
Nothing says carefree, lazy summer days like a swing. Whether it’s a tire swing, board swing, or cool skateboard hack, you can get as creative as you like, and find something “swinging” that will fit your time available and budget for the project.
You can find myriad kits online, and there’s something gratifying about taking an afternoon and putting together a swing that suits your style and personality. And of course, if you’ve hung a hammock or bed swing, you can rest after your hard work!
1. Tree Swing
You’ll find a number of tutorials with a quick search online, but be sure to consider the following tips.
- Select a tree and placement to hang the swing:
Your tree should be solid, not near other trees or bushes in case of any falls. The branch you hang the swing from should be approximately 8 inches in diameter. Hard woods are best, like oak or maple. Note: The branch should not be more than 10 to 15 feet above the ground, or it will make the arc of the swing too high, which is not safe for children. You’ll want to hang the swing 12-18 inches above the ground. Chains or rope should be at least 3 feet away from the trunk.
- Stand up to the elements:
Polypropylene rope, manila rope for a natural look, or a galvanized chain will not deteriorate after exposure to rain and other weather over time, unlike general purpose rope. Same goes for enamel paint – if you’re painting the seat of a board swing, it will stand up to exposure to the elements. Make sure the chain or rope is strong enough to hold the weight (load) of the swing and how many people will be on the swing at one time.
- Protect your tree:
To protect the bark of the tree, cover the chain or rope that will be rubbing against the tree bark with a piece of old garden hose that’s got a vertical slit along one side so you can encase the chain in it. Or, get a carpet sample and wrap it around the tree where the rope or chain will rest against the bark. Use flexible wire to secure it.
2. Tire Swing
- Repurpose an old tire:
If you hang the tire parallel to the ground, you could have 2-3 children swing on it. You can also create more stability by hanging it from three points.
Drill drainage holes in the bottom so water won’t collect inside and become a mosquito breeding ground. Also, be sure to check for wasp nests occasionally.
- Don’t get tied up in knots:
If you’re using rope, there are two general types you can use: the bowline, probably what you picture in your head when you think of tying a knot, and the hitch.
For the bowline, you can use it for the top of the tree, and to tie the tire, if you’re hanging it upright. Once the rope is over the limb, leave about 12 inches to hang past the limb on one end. Make a loop on the longest side of the rope right below the limb. Pass the other end of the rope through the bottom of the loop, then around the long end of the rope, then back through the loop. Pull it to tighten.
3. Porch Swing
You could build it from scratch, but if that isn’t your skill set, you can still build something that can become a family heirloom and save money by purchasing a kit. Before you glue the pieces together, assemble the swing so you can confirm you have all the pieces, and even sand some of the parts that may not fit perfectly. You can choose to stain or paint the swing to match your house or surroundings.
For hanging, if you use galvanized steel chain, it will last a long time. Rope is another option, just make sure your rope is strong enough. Add the swing’s weight to the maximum weight you expect it to hold at one time (600 pounds is a good estimate). The total weight should be less than or equal to what the rope’s safe working load is (printed on the package).
Allow enough “swing room” – at least 2 feet of clearance at the ends and 30 inches front and back to avoid colliding with the house, the porch railings, or people.
4. Patio Swing
No porch? Head to the patio! You can build a simple A-frame to hang your porch swing from. Using five 4x4s, some A-frame brackets and a couple of 2x4s, you can build two “V” shapes out of the 4x4s, then add the 2x4s to the middle of the “V” shapes to make the A-shape, and then connect the top of these with the last 4×4. Paint or stain to match your decor and to protect it from the elements. Use the hanging hardware that came with your porch swing kit, and center the swing to hang in the middle of your frame. Use a level to make sure it’s hanging straight.
A hammock really is a symbol of relaxing summer days. Hammocks without spreader bars give you more flexibility in tight spaces. There are many ways to hang a hammock. The simplest way is to find beams and drill into them, or if you’re hanging it between trees, there are straps to use to protect the tree. Hammocks usually need anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of space to stretch out. Your needs will be based on the size and style of your hammock, and if you want it flatter or more arched when you’re lying in it.
If your chosen spot is longer than the length of the hammock, use hanging straps or extra lengths of chain or rope to make it adjustable. Or, use a hammock stand and you’re free to move it wherever you like. Fun variations include hammock chairs, ones that hang from four corners, or recycle a pallett for a hanging bed.
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