3. DIY Tree Swing
A tree swing adds an old-world, majestic feel to your backyard — and this DIY project can be quite a romantic addition!
Installing a tree swing isn’t difficult, but choosing a tree and branch for it might be challenging. For instance, you’ll need to keep these pointers in mind: a sturdy hardwood tree’s branches, such as those from oak, are ideal. Avoid fruit trees, evergreens or trees that split easily.
In addition, a tree swing needs a horizontal branch that’s at least 8 inches in diameter and no more than 20 feet off the ground. The branch must be healthy, so you’ll need to inspect it from trunk to tip. You’ll also need to avoid branches that show signs of infestation, disease, splitting or narrow connections to the main trunk.
Finally, the branch should be large enough that the swing can hang at least 3 to 5 feet away from the trunk without the branch bouncing.
Ready to begin this DIY project? Not so fast! There are two main ways to hang a tree swing, so you’ll need to choose from one of the following:
Eyebolts: First, carefully drill a vertical hole all the way through the center of the branch, and insert a ½-inch diameter or larger, corrosion-resistant eye bolt, using washers and nuts to secure it to the tree. In time, the tree will grow around the bolts, making a permanent installation.
This method eliminates friction on the bark, but it also damages the tree. To make your rope last longer, attach a carabiner to the eye bolt, then tie the rope to the carabiner.
Rope: You can attach the tree swing to a branch using rope if you take steps to prevent the rope from cutting into the tree bark.
For instance, if you tie the rope around the tree branch, use a running bowline (or another slip knot) that will loosen when the swing is not being used, to allow the tree to grow larger without being girdled by the rope.
In addition, to protect the bark, use a rope sleeve or a piece of rubber tubing to reduce friction.
You’ll need to use ½-inch diameter or thicker rope to make it easy for hands to hold and provide enough strength. Options include:
Polyester Rope: Braided polyester rope holds up well to the elements, provides maximum strength and has little stretch.
Nylon Rope: While it’s the strongest rope, nylon is susceptible to stretching and can be too slippery for little hands to grasp.
Polypropylene Rope: This lightweight rope is the least expensive rope. Polypropylene rope makes a poor choice since it deteriorates rapidly in the sun’s UV rays.
Natural Fiber Rope: Ropes made from natural plant materials — such as manila, cotton, sisal and hemp — are not as strong as synthetic rope, will rot over time, and can break without warning. If you use a natural fiber rope on a tree swing, replace it every year or two.
Finally, here are some safety tips to protect your tree swing through the years:
- Make sure the rope, carabiners and hardware are rated for the maximum weight.
- Tie all knots securely to prevent unraveling.
- Inspect the tree branch, ropes and swing regularly. Look for splitting, fraying, missing bark or other damage, and repair right away.
- Replace the ropes every couple of years.
- Move the swing to new eye bolts if the tree grows over the ends.
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