Do you ever look at your swing set or one at a community play area and wonder if it has a history? Some traditional sets stand the test of time, and parents enjoy watching their children play on the same equipment they once played on. Swing sets have an interesting background that goes further back than you might imagine. Read on as we discuss the history of swing sets from traditional to modern designs if you’d like to know more about the classic structure that brings smiles and giggles to children and adults from generation to generation.
Ancient Swing Sets
According to ancient artwork, swing sets go back as far as Greek and Roman history and maybe even further. The artwork depicts simple wooden swings hanging from trees, and usually only women or children are happily swinging about in these images since a leisurely swing was not considered masculine at the time.
The Chinese saw another use for swings during ancient times and fashioned them onto trees using leftover ropes from lantern festivals to help collect fruit and flowers.
Western Swing Sets
You’ve likely seen women in lovely gowns swinging about on wooden seats hanging from beautiful trees as if they haven’t a care in the world in much of Western art. This type of image was popular during the Renaissance and found its way into many paintings, and onto vases and even textiles.
During this period, a swing was a luxury and a sign of status, romance, and privilege. Some artists saw the swing as sensual and playful, which is clear in their artwork.
As time went on, the pioneers in early America gave the swing new meaning as they found a practical use for it—to entertain children. Mom and Dad had plenty to do as they worked tirelessly to make a homestead, so, where there was a tree, there was a swing.
Eventually, as technology advanced and the automobile and tires came about, the traditional wooden seat swing evolved into a tire swing.
Modern Swing Sets
Many credit Friedrich Froebel, a German educator in the 1700s, for playing an important role in the conception of the playground. He thought that children need places to play and that play and learning intertwine. Thus, the playground was born, and the swing remained at the center.
Fast forward to the 20th century, with its constant progress and innovation, Froebel’s invention came to North America, bringing us swings that could attach to a frame. That, along with the booming steel industry, meant ropes gave way to metal chains, and trees were no longer the first choice of where to hang a swing. Metal frame swing sets began popping up everywhere, including suburban backyards and public playgrounds.
Now, moms and dads enjoy chatting with their neighbors and friends as their kids run around the playground and enjoy the stable swing sets.
Metal Swing Sets
Since the 20th century and the invention of the traditional metal swing set, metal has continued to be a popular choice as a building material for commercial and residential playsets.
Of course, the swing set evolves constantly. Now, metal swing sets include monkey bars, a slide, and other options.
Metal is an excellent material for a swing set since it’s sturdy, durable, and can handle all kinds of weather and active children.
Wooden Swing Sets
Although playsets grew from simple to complex, wooden playsets with attached swing sets are still wildly popular. These sets have swings, slides, forts, rock climbing walls, and anything else you can imagine.
Treated lumber is usually the choice for these big play centers since they have many twists and turns. However, metal accessories—such as swing chains, slides, and sliding poles—are common for wooden playsets.
The Right Swing Set for You
Choosing which set is best for your school, public park, or apartment complex is hard. Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself when deciding on which type of swing set to purchase:
- Is it for commercial or residential use?
- What’s my budget?
- Can wood handle my region’s climate?
- How much maintenance am I willing to give the swing set? Alternatively, can I afford to hire a maintenance team?
- How big is the proposed playground area?
- Will my clients or target audience only want swings or more choices?
- Will there be a weight limit?
Knowing the population you serve and how many children might play on the set regularly in the commercial space is important. You want a swing set and other parts to handle as many children as possible, so no one misses out. On the other hand, residential swing sets can be much smaller, and the yard space will determine the size.
Maintaining a Swing Set
Do the following to maintain any swing set style and size:
- Bring plastic parts, such as swing seats and slides, inside during the winter (below 32°F).
- Regularly check bolts, nuts, chains, and other metal parts for rust and deterioration. Tighten bolts nuts and closures as necessary.
- Oil the moving parts often during busy seasons.
- Keep the ground level.
- Replace anything that looks cracked or broken.
You must also apply a sealant once a year to protect the wood if you install a wooden playset in your playground area.
In conclusion, the history of swing sets, from traditional to modern designs, is fun and gives us a glimpse into playtimes past. Since ancient times and still today, swings represent a carefree attitude and a place for rest, fun, and laughter. What matters most is that you take excellent care of the playset so it lasts for a lifetime, whether you choose a traditional or modern set, wooden or metal materials.
At Discount Playground Supply, we carry only the highest quality playground equipment for both residential and commercial uses. Our playground swing set hardware meets the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for safe playground equipment, so you never have to worry about the safety of the children playing or the quality of the parts holding your set together. Contact Discount Playground Supply with any questions and let’s bring your playground vision to life!