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Preparing Your Kids’ Outdoor Play Area for Fall

14 Sep, 2017

Preparing Your Kids’ Outdoor Play Area for Fall

Summer is coming to an end and with fall just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for your backyard to ensure that your kids’ play area is the best it can be. It’s a good idea to prepare for unpredictable weather, falling leaves, and incoming frost ahead of time. Once freezing weather arrives and leaves start falling, some maintenance becomes more difficult, while some equipment may already begin to suffer damage.

Perform Annual Swing Set Maintenance

The best time to perform maintenance on your playset is early fall or late summer. It’s a good idea to get be proactive and get started early, because doing so can extend the life of your kids’ play equipment, and also make it easier and more comfortable to work outside.

Stain and seal wooden swing sets

In most cases, you should perform the same maintenance on the wood components of your swing set that you do on your deck. That means re-staining and sealing annually to minimize sun and water damage. It’s especially important to do this while it’s still relatively warm and dry to make sure that water never gets the chance to soak into the wood and freeze. Freezing and thawing will create and enlarge existing cracks while also generally damaging and weakening the wood fibers, making it easier for insects and fungi to attack it in the coming year. Worse, depending on how wet the wood is, it may not take a lot of freezing and thawing to do significant damage.

Level the play set’s base material

The filler material at the base of your swing set might be bark, sand, gravel, or any other loose material that can absorb a lot of impact. As kids play, they agitate the fill material and track in dirt and debris. While you generally wouldn’t want to replace any organic filler material until spring (much of it would decay relatively rapidly after being exposed to a winter season), it’s a good idea to take a rake and level it out. Uneven ground can be a tripping hazard for kids, and that can become a real problem when it’s hidden by a blanket of leaves or later snow.

Clean up the Yard

A lot of homeowners wait to thoroughly clean up their backyard until mid to late fall, when the leaves have already come down. That might work for some people, but it’s not a good idea for parents. Falling leaves can cover and obscure gardening equipment like metal rakes or garden shears, or debris such as sharp rocks or fallen branches. While these might be a relatively minor hazard during the summer, they can become a real problem when they’re concealed under fallen leaves while kids are running around and playing in the yard.

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