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What Are the Different Types of Backyard Playground Equipment?

A child on a swingset.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The staple of all backyard playground equipment tends to be the swing set, which may include only a set of swings or may incorporate various pieces of play equipment such as rope swings, ladders, and rungs. In the past, metal was the most common material for building swing sets, though more modern versions are often made from wood or certain types of plastic for added durability and safety. Other backyard playground equipment may include slides, artificial rock climbing walls, canopies, picnic tables, and even hammocks. Playhouses are larger structures that are suitable for larger yards as well.

Swing sets feature a large frame from which swings can be hung. The swings usually feature two long chains that connect to some sort of seat on which a child can sit. Smaller swing set models may feature only one or two swings, while much larger pieces can feature up to four or more. Larger sets are common on playgrounds, while smaller swing sets are more suitably used as backyard playground equipment. To ensure the safety of the children using each piece of backyard playground equipment, it is common to lay down wood chips or even rubber chunks beneath the swing set or other pieces. This helps soften the blow should a child fall from the swings or other structures.

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Slides can be a part of the swing set, or they can be individual units. Metal has historically been a common choice of materials for slides, though metal can begin to rust or rot when exposed to moisture, and it can cause sharp edges if it is damaged. Some types of metal also tend to absorb heat from the sun, making this piece of backyard playground equipment almost unusable at times. Plastic slides have largely replaced metal ones because they are less prone to rot, decay, and damage. They also retain less heat, though some lower end plastics can warp when exposed to constant sunlight.

Artificial climbing walls are relatively new additions to the backyard playground equipment arsenal. These walls sometimes feature gentle slopes to make climbing easier, and the handholds that are attached to the wall are suitable for the small hands of most children. The holds can be moved to different locations to change the challenge level or the wall, and they can often be replaced if they become worn or damaged. These walls tend to be somewhat safer than jungle gyms, which increase the likelihood of playground injuries.

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