DIY: Installing a Tree Swing + Safety Tips

If you have large, sturdy trees in your yard, there is no better way to enjoy the summer months than installing a tree swing.

This simple innovation has endured, despite the huge advancements in technology. The entire family can get hours of fun out of a well-secured tree swing. However, it is always important to think about safety first. Front Range Arborists has put these tips together to help you get the most of your tree swing while avoiding unnecessary trips to the ER.

Choosing Your Tree

You may look at your yard and see a number of suitable trees for a swing. That doesn’t mean every durable-looking tree will take the weight, or remain healthy, under the pressure. Choosing the right tree is important for both your family’s wellbeing and the longevity of the tree itself.

A sturdy, healthy hardwood tree is the ideal candidate for installing a tree swing in your yard. If you have a suitably located oak, you are almost definitely in business. Fruit trees and evergreens, on the other hand, are not the best choices for a tree swing. These and similar trees that split easily can end up dying due to the stress. There is also a health and safety risk associated with using these types of trees.

When choosing your branch, make sure it is 8 inches in diameter or more. Avoid branches that are higher than 20 feet off the ground. A powerful swing on a high branch can end in disaster. Obviously, you should opt for a healthy branch. When you inspect the branch from trunk to tip, if there are any indications of ill-health, avoid those branches like the plague – so to speak. Infestations, disease, or damage are just some signs of an unhealthy branch. You want to ensure the swing hangs 3-5 feet away from the branch or further. If the branch is bouncing when you test the swing, choose another branch on the tree.

Installing a Tree Swing

Safely installing your tree swing is equally important. There are a number of ways to go about the task, each of which is in contention as the best technique for installation.

You can use an eye bolt that involves drilling a vertical hole through the branch. The next step involves installing a 1/2” diameter or larger, corrosion-resistant eye bolt. The eyebolt is secured to the tree with washers and nuts, providing a safe method of attaching your tree swing. Eventually, the tree branch will grow around the bolt. There is no friction on the bark, but the tree will suffer damage. As an additional tip, you can attach a carabiner to the eye bolt which will allow you to attach the rope in a way that gives your swing a longer lifespan.

Another method is simply using ropes to secure a tree swing. Using this method, it is important to protect the tree from damage resulting from the rope cutting into the bark. A slip knot is ideal because it loosens whenever a swing is not in use. This method will prevent girdling of the tree caused by a tight rope as the tree grows. You can also add a rope sleeve or rubber tubing to protect the tree from the friction that results from swinging.

Rope Type

It is important the rope you use is 1/2” diameter or thicker. The reason for this is twofold: you want to be able to comfortably hold the rope and it should be of adequate strength that it doesn’t break under the weight of an average person. If you are thinking of going the synthetic route, a polyester rope is a great choice. It is resistant to adverse weather conditions, provides the strength you need, and generally doesn’t stretch to any noticeable degree.

Nylon rope is not a great choice for a tree swing, as there are a few notable downsides to this material. It does stretch and doesn’t provide a good grip, which could contribute to an accident. While on the subject of poor tree swing materials, you may want to avoid polypropylene rope. It is highly touted as the cheapest option on the market – and for good reason, too. Polypropylene rope has a rapid deterioration rate and doesn’t hold up well in UV light.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly option, natural fiber rope comes in a variety of materials – all of which aren’t very strong. These rope swings need to be inspected regularly and should be replaced after a year or two to avoid accidents.

For a strong swing that is attached to an eye bolt, you may want to consider a metal chain. There are some problems with this material, especially if you have small children at home. Little fingers can get caught in links, so think carefully before purchasing a metal chain for a tree swing.

Tree Swing Safety Tips

Before you allow your child to play on a tree swing, make sure to inspect the tree branch, any securing mechanisms, and the swing itself. If you see splitting in the tree or branch to which the swing is secured, do not let your child use it. Ropes should be replaced every couple of years or if damage is identified. You should also choose rope, bolts, and carabiners that have an appropriate rating for the weight of the intended participants.

We love seeing our customers have fun outdoors, but safety always comes first! Call Front Range Arborists for professional advice on caring for your trees as well as other services like tree pruning, stump and tree removal, and fire mitigation for a safe and protected yard. Reach out to the professionals at Front Range Arborists today.