Hanging a swing from a tree limb offers a fun way to enjoy a warm day with your family. A sturdy swing set is often ideal if your kids are active and swing often. Tree swings offer a more relaxing way to swing in the backyard. It's important to install the tree swing correctly to make it safe for the people who use it and the tree you use. Picking the right branch and attaching the swing securely are key steps in hanging the swing.
Tree Swing Safety
The most important consideration for a tree swing is to determine whether or not the limb can hold the weight. Choose a branch in a hardwood tree, such as an oak tree, for the strongest hold. Evergreens and fruit trees are softer and are more likely to break under the weight.
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Choose a tree branch that's at least 8 inches in diameter and a maximum of 20 feet off the ground. In order to prevent a collision with the trunk, the closest support for the swing should be three feet from the trunk. If the limb sags when you attach the swing, you may be too far away from the trunk for the limb to support the weight.
If the limb has any signs of damage or weakness, find another one. Avoid branches that are splitting or are narrow where they connect to the trunk. Having a tree company inspect the branch and tree helps determine if it's healthy and safe for hanging a swing.
Hardware to Attach Swings
While many people only use rope to hang swings from tree limbs, this isn't the best approach. As the tree grows, the rope cuts into the limb, which can cause damage. The same principle applies with chains. Instead, use stainless or galvanized steel eye bolts with a diameter of at least 1/2 inch. Look for bolts long enough to go through the limb and secure the bolt using nuts and washers.
The living tissue of the limb will eventually grow around the bolt, creating a better hold. The eye of the bolt should be on the bottom of the tree limb. Attach the rope or chain for the swing to the eye bolt. Tire swings only need one eye bolt, but most other types of swings need two; a baby swing may need three.
Mounting the Swing
You can also use a polyester or nylon rope. The rope should have a weight rating on the package, so you can determine how much weight the swing can hold. The rope connects to the eye of the bolt, which you can do by using a knot. A carabiner can prevent wear and tear on the rope by acting as the point that swings against the eye bolt, but check the weight capacity on the carabiner to make sure it can hold enough weight. If you don't want to use a carabiner, you can use a thimble, which is a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal designed to separate the rope from the eye.
When you tie the rope to the connection point, you want to use a knot that won't come loose. Examples of knots used to secure a tree swing include a double square knot or a double running bowline. You'll want to equally measure the rope for each side of the swing to prevent the swing from hanging crooked.