If you find yourself reading this article, you likely are in one of these scenarios:
Either, you have a turf lawn and are considering installing a swing set on it; Or, you’re thinking about getting turf and a swing set, and you’re wondering if turf and swing sets are compatible.
So, can you anchor a swing set on turf? You sure can!
Anchoring a swing set to a turf lawn is similar to anchoring it to a natural grass lawn. When done properly, you can safely anchor a swing set to turf without it damaging it.
Typical care instructions for a turf lawn usually make a point to discourage you from cutting the turf after it’s been installed, because it can cause damage and diminish its lifespan. However, turf is made to take what life throws at it, and when done properly, you can make alterations to turf (like making large incisions and placing large fixtures on top of it) to accommodate your hobbies and activities.
You can find the best turf to fit your needs at Turf Factory Direct, whether it’s for playgrounds, landscaping, or for a new roof. Below are the step by step instructions to safely anchor a swing set on artificial grass without damaging it.
How to Anchor a Swing Set on Artificial Grass
Anchoring a swing set is an important step in the construction process to prevent it from overturning, and should be done to prevent injuries. Doing so involves penetrating the surface with a stake or anchor. To anchor a swing set on turf requires cutting through the backing. Before you begin installation, make sure you have your tools.
Gather Your Tools
In addition to the tools listed in the instructions that came with the swing set, here’s the list of tools and supplies you need:
- Bolt cap (4)
- Sharp utility knife
- Metal ground anchors (4)
- Anchor attachments (if using a two-piece anchor system)
Many swing sets come with anchors. These come in two categories: Concrete or ground. For several reasons, we recommend the use of ground anchors instead of concrete, as the costs of using concrete anchors will end up being significantly higher. It’s also a much more complex process to excavate a hole in your lawn, and have the anchors fixed in place with concrete.
Anchoring in concrete is also a messy job that leaves you with a permanent and irreversible installation. This leaves zero room for mistakes, and you won’t be able to move or relocate the swing set after it’s installed. Some homeowners also find that concrete anchors can cause rot with wood swing sets. This occurs when moisture is drawn out of the wood and into the concrete. Ultimately, there is very little additional benefit to this method of anchoring.
Lay the Groundwork
Before you put the swing set in place, make sure the surface is level. The surface should already have been leveled as part of the turf installation process if it was done correctly.
Double-check the position of your swing set, and identify where each anchor is going to go.
Make sure to refer to the swing set instructions for proper anchoring.
The anchors must be positioned right next to every leg on the swing set, so they must be as close as possible to the legs of the swing set to avoid tripping.
Cut the Turf
You’ll need to cut the turf where the anchors will be installed. It is important to never jam stakes or nails into the turf directly. Doing this can damage both the backing and the sub-base. Instead, you need to make carefully placed cuts into the backing and in between the artificial grass fibers to reveal the backing that hold them in place.
Once you’ve identified and double checked the positioning of the anchor stakes, spread the grass fibers apart.
Make a small incision with a fresh, sharp blade into the backing of the grass.
Once you’ve made the first cut, go back and make another cut perpendicular to the first one, forming a small X. This should be big enough for the stake/rebar/anchor to fit through. Do this slowly, and keep the grass fibers spread apart to avoid damaging them.
Install the Anchors
Installing a swing set over turf is much the same as with grass, but with one exception: you’ll want to use longer ground anchors. In order to make sure the anchor is secure, the anchor needs to penetrate far enough into the ground to prevent the swing set from tipping over. With natural grass, the anchors go directly into the ground. Turf usually has a sub base of sand, gravel, or some other materials for drainage and padding, meaning the anchor has to penetrate further.
Ground anchors provide great stability, while also being easy to work with.
Most swing sets will come with ground anchors, but some don’t.
You should use ground anchors that are long enough to penetrate the turf at a 45 degree angle, at least 10 inches long, to be able to penetrate far enough into the ground underneath the turf’s sub base for stability.
The most basic type can be hammered into the ground, while other variations require you to twist them in. Some versions can be twisted into the ground with an electric drill.
Follow these steps:
- Insert the anchor into at a 45 degree angle through the X you cut into the backing.
- The stakes need to be carefully hammered into place, while twist-in anchors have to be screwed into the ground with a power drill, wrench, or by hand Stop insertion once the eyelet of the anchor reaches the backing on your artificial grass. Once again, ensure it is butted up, or as close as possible, to the legs on your swing set.
- Once in place, use chains, straps, or whatever hardware that is included in the swing set installation kit to attach the set’s legs to the ground anchors.
Secure the Swing Set
This is where it’s important to follow the instructions that came with the swing set. Swing sets and instruction manuals vary, but many swing set installation instructions will follow the same basic steps.
Metal swing sets will have holes to secure the set to the anchors, and some wood swing sets have predrilled holes.
If your swing set doesn’t come with holes, pre-drill the pilot hole in the swing set’s legs. This must be lined up with the hole in the anchor. Make sure to use a drill bit of an appropriate size, according to the bolts or screws to be used.
Thread the bolt through the anchor hole and into the pilot hole in the leg.
Do a loose install on every leg, before going back and tightening each one. This will ensure a strong and stable installation across all corners of the swing set.
Turf & Swing Set Compatibility
Oftentimes, you can find swing sets surrounded by grass, mulch, sand, or some other material meant to cushion a fall from the swing. Those swing sets eventually have bald patches of dirt beneath the seat: the area of ground where feet drag and stomp, leaving behind those distinguished tracks after hours of swinging fun. Anybody who’s fallen off a swing knows those drag marks hurt to land on a lot more than the mulch or grass that was previously there.
Some playgrounds remedy these drag marks by installing rubber tiles under swing sets instead of grass or mulch, but most homeowners would agree they don’t want to replace their lawn with rubber tiles.
The solution to the problem of dead grass and dispersed mulch below swing sets is to install artificial grass instead. Turf is not only an attractive landscaping replacement, it’s also a great playing surface to run, jump, and fall on when compared to natural grass.
When comparing surfacing materials that people typically use under a swing set, turf is the best option.
Artificial Turf – Attractive, affordable, durable, shock absorbent, non abrasive, slip resistant, and secured in place.
Natural Grass – Inexpensive, attractive, soft, leaves dirt and grass stains, becomes slippery when wet, and dies and leaves bald spots.
Wood Playground Mulch or Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) – Inexpensive, attractive, susceptible to mold, insect inhabitants, splinters, and the possibility of hidden hazards being concealed (like broken glass for instance). Over time, it becomes dispersed or compacted
Rubber Playground Mulch – Inexpensive, shock absorbent, retains heat, has an odor, and can leave behind a residue.
Turf is a common choice for homeowners installing a swing set on their lawn because it has the attractive appearance that resembles natural grass, and it’s more durable, easy to maintain, and shock absorbent. Artificial grass won’t die and bald like natural grass, or become dispersed or compacted like other landscaping fillers.
Get a Turf Upgrade
If you haven’t started on an artificial turf overhaul yet, now is the time to start. At Turf Factory Direct, we have artificial turf to meet any need, and a helpful and informed staff that’s on-call to help you. Get in touch with us and get started with artificial turf today!