How to Choose a Backyard Playset

two girls sitting on outdoor table with KidKraft swingset in the background

Adding a kids’ swingset to the backyard is sure to win you some cool points with the kids or grandkids. But before you can get to sliding and swinging, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting a playset that fits your yard, budget, and other needs – and that can get super overwhelming super quick. To help make things a little easier, we’re covering all the essentials of how to choose a backyard playset. So before you click that order button, consider these factors to make sure you and the kids get exactly what you want from your swing set!


First, thing’s first. Always buy from established, well-known brands that make safety a priority. And while any company can say they put safety first, look for a brand that backs those claims up. In addition to our in-house inspections, we make sure that every KidKraft product is safety-inspected by accredited independent labs.


Time to break out the measuring tape! When you’re figuring out how much room you have for a playset, the most important measurement isn’t the size of the swing set itself. Rather, it’s the size of the safety zone, the area surrounding the playset that should be covered with a loose fill material to protect your kids from falls and injuries. You can find the recommended safety zone measurement for all KidKraft playsets on the product pages or installation instructions.

Your Property

Making sure you have enough room for the safety zone is priority number one, but there are other factors you’ll want to consider in your yard too. It’s important for playsets to be installed on level surfaces. Our tips for preparing your yard for installation can help you get there.
If you can find room for your playset in a shady area that’s within view of your kitchen or living room window, that’s great too! (Though it’s not totally necessary, so don’t sweat it!)
You may also want to double-check homeowners' associations or city ordinances that dictate where you can build a structure like a playset. Many have rules on how close you can be to a property line or utilities.

Materials, Maintenance, & Durability

You basically have three options in materials for your swing set: wood, vinyl, or metal. Each has a few pros and cons in terms of durability, cost, and maintenance. Vinyl playsets are often the most expensive option as they require very little maintenance. They can last for years, but as they age, it’s tough to spot dangerous safety hazards. Any rotting wood that might impact structural integrity is hidden beneath the vinyl coating.
Metal playsets are usually your cheapest option, but they are prone to rust, so any paint chips must be quickly repaired. Wooden playsets and swing sets need a coat of water repellent or stain once a year to prevent rotting and weathering. As long as they get that, they’re extremely durable and can easily last from the toddler phase to the preteen years.
For more info, check out our in-depth comparisons of wood vs. metal and vinyl playsets.

Style & Customization

Just because it’s for the kids doesn't mean it has to clash with your house or backyard decor. Wooden swing sets blend in well with the natural elements of your yard and can be easily customized and painted if you’re going for a particular aesthetic. (Check out this gorgeous DIY paint job of our Hilltop Swing Set!)
With vinyl and metal playsets, what you buy is what you get as they can’t be repainted or customized, so make sure you choose a color palette you can live with!

Play Features

You have a ton of options for fun features on your playset like swings, glider swings, slides, tube slides, ladders, rock walls, monkey bars, towers and elevated play decks, attached playhouses, and sandboxes (whew!).
Playsets that keep it sweet and simple will often come with two swings, a small play deck and climbing feature, and a slide. More deluxe options may include many or all of the features above. As you decide which play features are a must-have for your family, consider how many kids will be playing with it, how old they are, and how many years of use you want to get out of it. Whatever you go with, we’re sure the kids will love it!

Age: How old should kids be for a playset?

In general, we recommend playsets for kids ages 3 and up! By this age, they’ve developed the motor skills they need to climb, swing, and slide with minimal falls and bumps!

Of course, younger kids go crazy for playsets too, and you may want to invest in one as soon as they’re old enough to sit up in a bucket swing on their own. Just know that they’ll need close supervision around the playset until they’re more steady on their feet. You can also try a toddler climber as an alternative to a full playset – they’re designed with toddlers’ abilities in mind, letting the youngest tots climb and play safely.

Number of Kids

If you have a large crew or if you just have a lot of friends and family’s kids come over to play, you’ll want to take that into account too. Obviously, larger playsets are usually able to accommodate more kids, but size isn’t the only thing that matters here. The number of features a playset offers also counts, and even smaller playsets can still be great for entertaining several kids at once.

Ready to find your dream playset come true? We can help with that! You can filter KidKraft’s selection of wooden swing sets according to yard size, play features, number of kids, and price so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for!