That large tree in your yard can do more than just provide shade on hot sunny days. It is the perfect place to hang a swing. Tree swings can transform your outdoor space into a fun play area both for the young and the young-at-heart but you need to install them without damaging the tree or risking your safety.
Here are some important considerations when installing a tree swing
Type of Tree
It’s best to install a swing on a hardwood tree that has a sturdy branch. Oaks and similar tree types are perfect for tree swings. Avoid fruit trees and any other type of tree that could easily split.
Size and Height of Branch
Look for a thick branch, at least 8 inches in diameter that is high enough to allow motion for the swing but not too high that you would need to use extra long ropes. Ideally, it should not be more than 20 feet from the ground.
The branch should also be healthy and should not show signs of weakness, splitting, or infestation. Be careful of branches that have narrow connections to the tree trunk.
It’s also important that there is enough clearance in the swing area and around the branch. The branch should not bounce against other branches when the swing starts moving.
Attaching the Swing
There are two ways that you can securely attach a swing to a tree.
One way to do it is by using eye bolts.
• You would have to drill vertical holes into the branch all the way to the center and insert eye bolts. Typically, you would use bolts that are at least a half inch in diameter. Make sure that these bolts are corrosion-resistant because they would be exposed to different weather conditions.
• Secure the bolts with washers and nuts.
• You would then attach carabiners then tie the rope around them.
An advantage of using this method is it eliminates friction on the bark. However, there is the probability of damaging the tree after extended periods of use.
Alternatively, you can directly attach a swing to a tree using a rope.
• Make sure that the rope doesn’t cut into the bark.
• If you use this method, a great tip is to use a running bowline which loosens up when the swing is not in use. This way, the tree will continue to grow and will not be hindered by the rope.
• You can protect the bark by using a sleeve on the rope or by placing a rubber tubing to lessen the friction.
Choosing the Right Rope
The type of rope you use affects the life of the tree and the safety of the swing.
Polyester ropes hold well against outdoor elements and do not easily stretch. Nylon ropes are strong but they stretch easily. Polypropylene ropes are lightweight and affordable but they easily break after being exposed to the sun.
Then there are metal chains which resist corrosion and are very durable. These should be installed with eye bolts and should never be directly hung on a tree branch.