Build Your Own Garden Swing

A garden swing must be strong enough to be used by older children – and even adults. To make one, use 150 by 50mm softwood timber planed all round for the uprights and cross rail. You will need two uprights, 2.7m long to allow you to sink 610mm into the ground for a solid foundation. Use pressure-treated timber, or soak the bottom 610mm in wood preservative. Allow 1170mm for the cross-rail.

For the seat use 230 by 38mm planed softwood. You will need to cut a piece 560mm long.

You will also need: waterproof glue; abrasive paper; wood preservative or an exterior grade varnish or seal; concrete; 8m of 10mm polypropylene rope with two eyelets (sold as ‘thimbles’ in sailing equipment shops) to fit the rope; two strong swing hooks with screw threads; waxed twine.


Join the cross-rail to the uprights using mortise and tenon joints and gluing them. Allow the glue to set. Plane off the protruding ends of the tenons. Carefully smooth all wood with abrasive paper to remove snags or splinters. Coat liberally with preservative, varnish or seal.

Using the frame as a guide, mark out two holes and dig to a depth of 760mm. Pack a 150mm layer of rubble into each hole, to ensure good drainage. Now fit the frame uprights into the holes, keeping the frame square. Compact more rubble round each upright to 150-250mm from the surface. Fill with stiff concrete; smooth the surface and slope it away from the wood.

Cut the rope in half. Fold one length in half again, fit a metal eyelet in the loop and bind it in place with waxed twine. Repeat for the other rope.

Drill four holes in the seat -two on each side, set in about 38mm from the corners. Measure the length between the holes and mark it up on the cross-rail, so that the hooks will hold the ropes straight.

Screw the hooks into the cross-rail and slip the rope eyelets over them. Thread the rope ends through the seat and adjust its height, taking care to allow plenty of leg clearance between ground and seat. Finally, knot the ropes securely above and below the seat and fuse the strands of the frayed ends together, using the flame match. Bind each pair together with waxed twine about 200mm above the seat.

Ready made swings

Many garden centers and larger toy shops offer garden swings in kit form. Most are made of tubular or angled metal sections and come with assembly instructions. Make sure the sections fit tightly – if necessary tap them home with a rubber mallet.

This kind of frame is quite light, so it is essential to anchor the swing firmly to the ground – especially if older children are going to use it. Long metal hooks may be included for this purpose, but in soft ground they could pull loose. To ensure a good foundation for the swing, sink a narrow, deep hole for each hook; fill in round each hook with concrete.

Check the swing regularly for chipped paint and rust. Rub away any rust or loose paint with emery cloth, then treat bare metal with rust-inhibiting enamel.

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