Playset Prep

As I explained in last Friday’s weekend post, my daughter DC is turning 3 this weekend. Before DC was even 2, we were invited to a slew of birthday parties complete with pony rides and bouncey houses.  But I figure Dan and I have a lot of birthday parties ahead of us and we’re going to reserve those kinds of antics for a later time–maybe when DC is in school. Right now we like to limit birthday parties to family and close friends. How do you feel about fancy parties full of toddlers and Cowboy Bill for entertainment before the age of 3?

steve martin parenthood

So a big part of this party happening this weekend is our gift to DC which is an outdoor wooden playset. We did some research before buying at places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, Sam’s Club, Sears and Creative Playthings. I talked with my Dad about the different types of material that the various sets were made of. He gave me a general hierarchy of durability which was,

  1. Redwood
  2. Cedar
  3. Treated wood

Redwood drove the price up significantly and was outside of our budget so we looked at some cedar sets. My Dad warned that if the cedar isn’t high quality it will split. I read some reviews of some of the cedar sets offered at Costco and some parents reported that the cedar split when they were assembling it so we moved on. We found the best selection at Home Depot where they primarily carried the Swing-n-Slide brand. To learn more about their construction we visited the Swing-n-Slide site.   We liked the 4×4 construction and the heavy duty brackets used to assemble the sets. After tooling around their site a bit we found their Outlet section. Swing-n-Slide was offering some discontinued sets at pretty great discounts so my husband and I settled on the Juneau.

juneau playset swing-n-slide

There was a lot of prep work involved before assembly could even begin. Over the years the previous owner had allowed vines and other brush to take over the property. We’re lucky that my Dad owns a backhoe AND enjoys using as often as he possibly can so he has completed a lot of the land clearing for us. I’m trying to talk him into buying a Bobcat which looks like this,

Bobcat machine

He is actually going to look at a used model today that has a mulching attachment on the front that just kind of eats small trees and brush piles. This is an exciting prospect when you buy property that has been severly neglected and you battle brush piles with a rake.

So my Dad cleared some space in the side yard among the beautiful hemlocks and my brother loaded pile after pile of brush in to the rented dumpster. This process went on for a few days.

Here’s a view of the property partially cleared,

partially cleared front 2

My brother and Dan then cut the old ivy vines shooting out of the ground and hand raked the area where the playset would go, this would be significantly faster and easier if we had more equipment to smooth the area but we had to resort to hand labor.

playset spot

During the clearing process, my brother unearthed a stairwell made of square brownstones that leads down in to a lower part of the property. It will take a lot of work to fine tune this area but it was a cool landscape surprise. Those stones have been there a very long time, they were probably installed not long after the house was built in 1929.

hidden stairwell

After all that clearing and raking, we distributed 80 bales of pine straw around the area. We chose pine straw because we live in the land of Longleaf Pines which shed their needles constantly so we took a “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” kind of approach. Others might choose some kind of engineered or recycled material like rubber mulch or sand.

And then finally– we’re ready for assembly which will be left up to my Dad, brother and Dan. My Dad did carpentry work and a lot of woodworking in his youth and he’s a pretty fantastic handy man so he will lead the assembly charge. The assembly is scheduled to begin this Friday, there’s a lot of speculation as to how long the assembly will take, the estimates range from 4 to 8 hours.

I told everyone we could take a long break from yard work for a while, their response was basically yeah no s#[email protected] for playing,

 
 
 
 

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5 Comments

  • We did this last year. Or should I say my husband did this last year. It was insane. So many pieces and parts that it took two full days to build. I hope your playset goes together much more quickly.

    Awesome find on the steps! Don’t you love when that happens?

  • hi there I am currently looking at the Juneau play set. Wondering what you currently think about the quality.
    Thanks

    • It is holding up pretty well. Its been up for almost a yr now, the timbers still look the same. Ours is setup in the shade, the canopies are dirty and need to be washed. The only regret is that the set is not really made to accomodate an adult so you can’t swing alongside your child.

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