Inexpensive homemade backyard play structures

A Backyard Play Structure

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Backyard Play Structure

I am a single mom of a 10-year-old girl. She is very athletic and wants a fort type, climbing structure. I can't afford what I've seen out there. Are there any suggestions about using/finding items to make a recycled play area? I would be doing it myself. I know it's a big job, but she needs an area for herself. My yard is not that big, but I do have two large orange trees. Ideas or suggestions would be really appreciated.
Betty C.

Search Online for Backyard Play Structures

Go to and select your city and search under things for sale. Craigslist is a non-profit website where people can post things they want to sell and buy. Since you search in your city or one nearby, there are no shipping costs and you arrange with the seller privately for payment, pickup/delivery, etc. I've found it to be cheaper than eBay and full of things for kids!
Mary in Denver, Colorado

Homemade Backyard Play Structure

I saw a wonderful idea in a book from my local library. They installed two 6x6 posts that were buried below the frost line and went straight up about eight feet. They were about six to eight feet apart. Three or four holes were drilled at parallel distances up the pole starting about two feet up from the ground. A heavy nylon rope was then strung to form horizontal lines between the poles. Another rope was spiraled around the front of the parallel ropes and tied wherever two ropes met forming a spider web climbing area. Another post was secured across the top of the two poles, overhanging on one side far enough for a swing. Perfect jungle gym and swing for the price of three posts and some rope. Ensure that the posts are secure and all knots are tight for safety sake.

Make Known Your Need for a Backyard Play Structure

I suggest that you make flyers stating your need and place them on grocery store or church bulletin boards. Many parents would rather have their expensive play set used by someone who really wants it rather than have it unused or thrown away. You could also place an ad in the penny saver/local shopper. I have seen similar ads for items wanted by people in need.

Recycle to Make a Backyard Play Structure

My family built one by recycling an old deck that my uncle was tearing out. We only had to purchase the 4x4 posts (5) to support the structure. It is a two-story structure with the deck railing around each story and it has two swings. We bought a reject can of stain to stain it when it was finished. It was a weekend project that was fun for all.
Gayla V.

Unwanted Backyard Play Structures

Check with local realtors to ask if, when they sell a house with a play structure the new owners don't want, they would give them your number. Also, check to see if your local paper has a "free" section, as I have seen these advertised for free as long as you do the hauling.

Until you are able to find the type of structure she wants, consider getting a few big appliance boxes that she can cut, decorate and otherwise form into a fort. If that doesn't last for long, consider getting a few 2x2s and a spare sheet and make a teepee. These ideas will give her at least part of what she wants, a fort, and are very cheap and easy to change as whim dictates.

Join a Freecycle(tm) Group in Your Area

I belong to a Yahoo freecycle group in my area. People often request and offer these kinds of items. The items must be free. You will probably need to arrange to transport and rebuild the swing set yourself. The giver of the items just supplies the unwanted stuff. I have given away a handful of items and received several for my home just by signing up and reading the offers.
Deborah in Coventry, RI

Used Tires for a Homemade Backyard Play Structure

When I was a kid, my favorite playground was the one at my elementary school, which had been built by volunteers out of used tires. They formed all kinds of interesting structures for climbing on, including a central castle with four "drawbridges" and, in the primary school section, a crouching dragon. There were also tire swings hung up horizontally by three chains so you could recline in them. Obviously you won't have room for anything this elaborate, but do look into used tires as a building material. It's amazing what you can do with them.

Pallet to Backyard Play Structure

We have built a couple of great play houses using "pallet toppers" from a local bindery. Pallet toppers are solid pallets that are used on top of pallets of books or paper to keep them from being damaged. They are very sturdy and can come in large sizes.

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