Backyard Children’s Playset Explainer Post

Basic Metal Swing Set

Basic Metal Swing Set

In the beginning the world was filled with basic metal swing sets. (Okay, in the beginning of the beginning the backyard playground was a tire suspended by a rope from a tree limb! A little before my time!)

Playset

And, of course, in 1937 the backyard playset was built from scratch with lumber from the sawmill and threaded pipe from the hardware store.

Anyway, the metal playground swing was a true kit with factory finished steel tubes and predrilled holes and hardware to assemble it all.

Then came the wood swing set with plastic accessory kits which included instructions for the assembly of the swing set from stock lumber to which the plastic accessories could be attached.

WoodSwingB

Early in the 1980’s Lowes Lumberyard came up with a unique marketing idea called the Treeless Treehouse. Crude by today’s standards this was a backyard playhouse designed to be built by Dad over the weekend.

The Lowes Weekender Treeless Treehouse

The Lowes Weekender Treeless Treehouse

What Dad did not realize was the Treeless Treehouse “kit” was really a stack of lumber and a set of blueprints. Somewhat beyond the average Dad’s interest for a two day project.

It mattered not.

This playset so fired the imagination of children and Dads everywhere in Raleigh I was called to build dozens of them over the course of the decade.

Here is one of my earliest Weekender Treehouses, photographed in glorious black and white Polariod.

Glorious Black and White Polaroid Treeless Treehouse Picture

Glorious Black and White Polaroid Treeless Treehouse Picture

Treeless Treehouse In Living 110 Pocket Instamatic Color!

Treeless Treehouse In Living 110 Pocket Instamatic Color!

Treeless TreeHouse Under Construction

Treeless TreeHouse Under Construction

The era of the Treeless Treehouse was short lived. In my case the peak came in 1988 when I was commissioned to build the “Super Fort” treehouse which took the Lowes concept to extraordinary elaboritidity by an exuberant client who designed his own version from the ground up. (Explained link here)

The ordinary mundane Lowes version was quickly replaced in the 1990’s by a plastic accessory package attached to the same general Treeless Treehouse framework of ordinary lumberyard lumber which was built and drilled and bolted from scratch in the field.

Playset built with ordinary treated lumber and attached accessory kits

Playset built with ordinary treated lumber and attached accessory kits

Hybrid Playset with metal assembly brackets and metal slide

Hybrid Playset with metal assembly brackets and metal slide

Only now in the 21st Century do we go back to the future with the return of the true “kit” playset. Everything comes in a box from the factory. The lumber is presanded and dressed and stained and the holes are bored and most of the time sufficient fasteners are included to assemble everything without a trip to the hardware store!

Heartland,Rainbow and Gorilla Backyard Playsets

Heartland,Rainbow and Gorilla Backyard Playsets

What a long strange journey it has been! Call me when you want your adventure with backyard jungle gym playsets to begin! I can help!

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3 comments
  1. Dean said:

    I have a 6 foot w by 6 foot depth and want to out a treeless treehouse or a strcuture that goes off the ground. I have seen the peapod cedar playhouse with sandbox but also liked the idea of a treehouse on top and stronrage shed on the bottom. I prefer a prefab kit. Any ideas if the swing set companies make something like this?

    • handyguy said:

      Not specifically. But you can probably special order something.

      Your best shot would be just to go ahead and build it out yourself.

      Where do you live? Some parts of the country have a bigger community of designers than others.

      Fair winds and following seas,

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