Everything you need to know about selecting and installing a tree swing to add a dose of fun and charm to your own backyard!
My Great Grandma Arnold had a tree swing in her expansive backyard, that hung from an old, tall oak. It was positioned on a hillside making it feel even more adventurous. Nestled in her tree-filled backyard, it felt enchanting.
Generation after generation enjoyed that swing, each sharing their stories. There’s something so sweet and freeing about being on a swing – at any age. It instantly makes all of your worries melt away and brings out the child in you.
It’s where laughter is born and memories are made. A simple tree swing can add a park-like feel anywhere. So it comes as no surprise that we hung a wooden tree swing from a tall maple in our front yard.
The girls spend countless hours playing on it together, pushing one another or twirling around. Every now and then even I escape to enjoy a peaceful swing.
Types of Tree Swings
There are so many tree swing options for adults and kids alike!
- Wooden Tree Swing – You can get one with ropes for as little as $20.99 delivered!
- Disc Swing – Seat is a round disc with a single rope tied through center. Twirling, anyone?
- Wooden Horse Swing – A toddler’s dream! Swing has enclosed sides for safety and is shaped like a little horse.
- Knot Rope Swing – Of course there’s the beautiful knot rope swing that captured our hearts when Princess Charlotte played on it in the garden.
- Spider Web Swings – Large round discs with netted centers that can accommodate multiple kids at a time.
- Saucers – Similar to web swings, but center is solid surface. Can also be shaped like long surfboards.
My favorite, of course, is a classic wooden tree swing. It integrates beautifully into any garden or yard and the natural color fades into the landscape. You can even have your swing engraved!
Tree Swing for Adults
With so many fond memories, I have to admit that tree swings aren’t just for children. Sure, children are the most likely to delight in swinging high into the air or twirling around. But even grown-ups like me can enjoy swinging outside in the sunshine.
Today’s tree swings are made to support the weight of adults. Check your specific swing for its weight limit, but it isn’t hard to find swings that will hold up to 300 or even 500 lbs. Of course, part of that depends on how sturdy the branch is from which it will be hanging, as well as the type of swing.
Take a good book, podcast, or simply bask in the quiet of outdoors. There’s something so soothing about swinging gently back and forth. It makes cares melt away – and we all need that every now and then!
Tree Swing Rope
Whichever type of rope you choose, remember to check it regularly for stretching or fraying. If your tree swing rope is beginning to show signs of wear, replace it with new and durable rope. Also, make sure to adhere to your specific type of rope’s weight limits.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right rope for your hanging tree swing:
- Eye Bolts – Okay, these aren’t rope, but they ARE the best way to attach a swing to your tree. Using a power drill, carefully drill a hole vertically through the branch, right through its center. Next, insert a 1/2″ diameter (or larger) eye bolt, long enough to go through the branch from underneath and out the top side. Secure it using appropriately sized washer and nut. The bolts will not damage your tree, and eventually the tree will grow around them. Tie your rope to the eye bolts, or hang carabiners and tie ropes onto them for easy swing removal when necessary.
- Rope bands – Wide rope bands found in tree swing kits are your second-best alternative. They provide a wider surface area than regular rope, and are less likely to wear away the branch’s outer layer of bark. Whatever you do, don’t tie regular rope around your tree branches! Trees can handle being drilled all the way through (eye bolts), but they don’t survive having their branches constricted. The friction caused by the swinging movement can wear away the outer layer of bark. This exposes the tree to pests and disease and inhibits its ability to transport water back and forth. Even rope bands can eventually cause these problems, but they are better for your tree than regular rope.
- Polypropylene rope – Braided polypropylene is a good option for tree swings, because unlike natural fiber rope, it will not rot in the sunshine and weather. Furthermore, it is strong, durable, waterproof and lightweight. Use at least 5/8″ wide for strength. Not to mention, polypropylene holds knots well and is smooth for little hands – that is a must!
- Nylon rope – Although it’s a popular choice, nylon rope is susceptible to stretching out over time. Plus it can be slippery to hold, especially in wet conditions. This could potentially be dangerous. So, choose nylon if desired, but first make sure to do your research and know what you’re getting.
Tree Swing Kit
There are many tree swing hanging kits that make hanging your own swing quick and easy! They take all of the guess work and worry out of this project, so your family can start swinging in no time.
- Branch Strap Hanging Kit – As long as your branch is strong enough, a good branch strap kit will do its job to support weight and ensure safety. It also does its best to minimize damage to your tree – most branch straps are fairly wide (increased surface area means less sawing motion). Plus they can be pulled tightly but without constricting or suffocating your tree branch. This is vital to the health of your branch, since minimizing back and forth motion prevents bark from wearing down to expose the branch. Most kits come with 2 straps and 2 carabiners.
- Locking carabiners – Be sure to choose a tree swing kit with locking carabiners, as opposed to regular. Locking carabiners close, then lock in place. This can be done with an auto-lock feature, or manually by screwing a sleeve over a gate. Either way, the carabiner will be locked in closed position. This is essential for safety! The last thing we want is for a tree swing to work its way loose and fly off open carabiners when in midair.
How to Hang a Tree Swing
- Choose a branch that is at least 8″ in diameter on a healthy, strong tree (no more than 20-feet above ground level). Determine where you want to hang your swing. It should be at least 3-feet away from the trunk.
- Drill vertically through branch where each rope should be. Insert 1/2″ diameter or larger eye bolt from underneath and out the top. Secure it from top using washer and nut.
- Tie rope (preferably 5/8″ braided polypropylene) to eye bolts on underside of branch. Alternatively, hook locking carabiners to eye bolts, then tie rope onto carabiners.
- Optional: Skip steps 2 – 3, and instead purchase and install tree swing hanging kit with a high-quality branch strap hanging kit.
- Leave rope long enough that it hangs from eye hooks to ground level. Cut off at ground level.
- Determine how high off the ground you want your swing to be (it should be close to 24″ above ground level), and tie one side of your swing’s seat to hang there. Do this by drilling a hole through the seat large enough for the rope to fit through, then tying a knot underneath. Or purchase a predrilled seat and simply feed ropes through.
- Place a level across seat, then feed second rope through second end of swing. Adjust to level and tie knot to secure. If the swing sits slightly off level, make minor adjustments to the knots until the swing is level.
- You can do as I did, and embellish your swing with natural-colored ribbon and fabric strips. Simply cut to length and tie into place. It is a sweet gesture that fits in well with the outdoor scenery, plus adds just the right touch of magic.
Tree swings are what childhood memories are made of. Make your own today, and start living the simple joys of life all over again!
For best results, use 1/2″ diameter or larger eye bolts. Drill hole vertically through branch and insert bolt from underneath, so the eye is on the underside of the branch. Secure to top side of branch using washer and nut. Hang tree swing rope to eye hooks, or tie rope onto a carabiner and attach that to the eye hooks, for easy removal when necessary. Use a branch strap. The second best alternative is to wrap branch with rope bands (not rope), since these are less likely to wear through the branch’s outer bark layer.
Hang from a healthy tree branch at least 8″ in diameter and no more than 20′ high. Check the tree for cracks, splits and hanging branches for health. In general, do not hang swings in delicate tree varieties such as willow, birch, or ash.
Install on a level branch with equal rope length on each side for an even swing. If your ideal branch isn’t level, compensate for it by making one length of rope longer than the other. Hang one side of the swing and tie with knot. Place level on swing and adjust second rope as needed to achieve level.
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