Need play area for child but too windy!!! What items can we put in back yard!!
February 27, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Need ideas for outside play area that is super windy! Hi, my daughter will be five soon and our back yard has nothing in it because it is super windy. We bought a trampoline last year and had it for two weeks, then it became a pancake due to the wind. My husband is reluctant to get a swing set, sand box or another trampoline. What ideas do you have that will secure these items to the ground?

The swing set could be cemented into the ground. But if the swing is bent or broken over during the storm, we will have pieces of swing stuck to the ground by cement. And with the sand box, we are afraid the top will fly off and we will have sand all over our back yard. If my husband puts a cement block on the top of the cover, I will not be able to get it off every day, as I have a bad back. The trampoline we had was secured to the ground with anchors, but the netting around the trampoline acted like a sail in the wind and it just went up and then down like a pancake. Surely there is some way my child can have items in her back yard to play with?? We live in Iowa in a neighborhood, but behind us is a farm, so the wind is hard and very open by us. I'm looking for ideas, my daughter would be so happy if we could figure it out.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total)
A (quick and not at all thorough) search tells me these don't exist, but I bet it would be really easy to affix latches to a sand box lid with some screws and epoxy.
posted by phunniemee at 8:20 AM on February 27, 2009

Get a good wooden swingset/playset (cemented into the ground). Here are some (warning: annoying Flash interface). Nice and heavy. Just opt out of the cloth roof.
posted by mikepop at 8:28 AM on February 27, 2009

Can you get permission to use the field for some kite flying? You won't do any damage before the field is planted.

Also, how DIY is your family? You could easily dig out a small area of the yard, build your own sandbox of whatever size you wanted. If you sink the sandbox so that it only rises a few inches above the grass it won't catch nearly as much wind. Plus you could build your own cover with a few pieces of light plywood or waferboard that secure down with wingnuts or something similar.
posted by Science! at 8:28 AM on February 27, 2009

Adding, that I doubt the wind would bend/break a metal swingset either. The one I had growing up took lots of abuse, and current playground equipment I've seen right next to the ocean here where it gets very windy at times are still standing.
posted by mikepop at 8:30 AM on February 27, 2009

When i was a kid, my dad tied down my metal swingset with a couple of these - not because of the wind, but because I was a crazy dare-devil 6 year old and I kept knocking the whole swingset over with my mad swinging. He screwed them into the ground and tied them to the cross bars of the A-shaped frames at either end. My 10 year old neighbor managed to pull them out of the ground pretty regularly when he was playing on the swingset, though, since he was about 40 pounds heavier than me, so at that point my dad dug holes about 12 inches deep and 8 inches across and buried the dog tie-out stakes in concrete in the holes. When the time came, it was much easier to get rid of a couple of blocks of concrete around metal stakes than it would have been to get rid of 4 blocks of concrete attached to an unwieldy metal frame.
posted by cilantro at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2009

I feel your pain. We live in a very windy area, too. We had a swing set growing up that was cemented into the ground. It had been there for ages and taken a lot of abuse, but it worked just fine for us. I agree that if it's metal, you won't have to worry about it bending or breaking too much.

Other things that I've seen in our area that seem to work are those really heavy-duty play systems that are made out of heavy, bulky wood. I can't imagine you'd have any problems with wind moving these around. The only concern might be the canvas "roof" on top, but maybe you could take that off and screw in some plexy or something?
posted by bristolcat at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2009

I'm sure you can rig some kind of bolt-able cover for the sandbox. When I was a kid my dad had to screw down the lid of my sandbox so our puppy wouldn't take a dump in it.
posted by radioamy at 9:00 AM on February 27, 2009

how big is your yard? if you have room, plant some trees as a wind break.
posted by jrishel at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2009

Trees, like a fast growing Cyprus and some thick hedges would add privacy and would act as a windbreak. I have Cyprus on my property line and they are great.

Also, covers on the sandbox would keep cats from using it as a litter box.
posted by wrnealis at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2009

You could plant some tall shrubs if trees arent your cup of tea. Make a hedgerow along the sides and back of your property. This will also act as a net to catch and trap things like balls and toys that get picked up by the wind. It will also harbor little birds that your daughter can feed and enjoy and learn from.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2009

How about a 6' cedar fence, with the slats alternating on either side of a 2x4 stringer, so that the wind is buffered but can get through (and won't blow down the fence). I can't find any pictures, alas.
posted by Danf at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2009

I once had to do some work along the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Due to the open nature of the prairies in that region, the wind was fierce and formidable. It was quite common for folks to place around their houses a 'wind fence,' which basically looked like the the sort of tall chain link fence you see around a baseball diamond, with some sort of woven material attached to cut the wind.

If you do it yourself, I'm sure you can find materials inexpensively at a industrial supply store.
posted by jazzkat11 at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2009

This looks kind of definitive: anchor with concrete. But you don't have to anchor your items IN concrete. Pour the concrete, set a couple of long bolts or hooks in the concrete, and then use that as your attachment point for swings, trampolines, and so forth.

The alternate idea is to anchor to dog tie-downs, which look like long corkscrews that go into the ground. They're at most pet stores and big box hardware places.
posted by crapmatic at 12:20 PM on February 27, 2009

You could put down some big planter boxes with heavy soil and nice flowers on either end of a swingset and anchor the set to them.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2009

I hate to get all "think of the children" here but please don't get another trampoline. They can be seriously dangerous; I've got a friend who broke his neck one one, and another friend that broke her leg so severely as a teen that it is now two inches shorter than her other leg.

But, yeah, you should be able to anchor the equipment with concrete though keep in mind that it can be a serious PIA if you ever want to remove the concrete.
posted by 6550 at 1:09 PM on February 27, 2009

How about a climbing dome? It won't catch the wind and won't need tying down, and it's good for climbing, hanging upside-down, and making forts. My sister and I had one and used it for years--til it got so rusty it was a health hazard. Looks like safer ones are available now.
posted by hippugeek at 5:40 PM on February 27, 2009

My sandbox had a slightly tented roof made of that wavy aluminum. Held up by two bars on either side that had slots in them. And wingnuts. So it was a shade in the hot days and when it rained you would loosen the wingnuts and lower the roof all the way down and tighten back up the wingnuts. Can't imagine wind strong enough to rip that off except for a tornado.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:55 PM on February 27, 2009

Sand with a larger grain size won't blow around nearly as much.

As the onetime recipient of a 'surprise' busted up trampoline, I'd like to thank you for putting some thought into this issue.
posted by yohko at 12:31 PM on February 28, 2009

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