How to Weatherproof Backyard Playground Equipment
Backyard playground equipment can provide many years of fun for children—but only if you maintain and weatherproof it the right way. Make sure you’re taking good care of your playground area by taking the necessary steps to guard against the damage that weather will wreak. Good maintenance is the best way to keep your equipment safe and in great condition.
If any part of your playground area is made with wood, stain and seal the wood. This will go a long way toward extending the life of any playground equipment. It's best to do this 60 to 90 days after construction, but it's never too late to add stain. Wood stain can be brushed on the same way you would apply paint.
Once the stain has dried for at least 48 hours, it can be sealed. Use a waterproof sealant to give the playground area extra weather protection. The sealant will protect the wood from moisture, sunlight, and mildew. Seal the wood every one to two years to maintain the weather protection. You'll need to stain the wood every two or three years to keep the color from fading.
Winterize When Not in Use
If your winters are cold enough to prevent anyone from playing outside, winterize your playground area before the onset of the season. Remove any detachable parts from the playground. Swings, ropes, and other parts of the set may be removable. Store these items indoors or in the garage for the winter. Plastic parts of any kind, including framework, should be stored inside whenever possible. After the removable parts are gone, cover any equipment with tarps to protect it all from harsh weather.
To winterize a trampoline, remove the mat before the beginning of the season. Store the springs in a plastic storage container inside your home or garage. When the winter ends, oil the springs before re-attaching them to the frame, which you can just leave in place through the winter unless you have a good storage spot for it. If you choose to leave the mat in place, quickly remove any snow, twigs, and leaves before they can accumulate on the trampoline. Otherwise, the weight may cause wear and tear that can weaken the mat and create a potential hazard in spring.
Playing in a sandbox is truly fun. This is a great way to keep kids busy and in one spot, but it's also a disaster waiting to happen. Sandboxes require regular maintenance so they don't become dirty. You also need to take a couple of extra steps to avoid attracting animals who come to leave random despots in this play area.
It's a good idea to completely replace the sand at least twice a year. Even with good maintenance, you do need fresh sand regularly. You also have to regularly sift through the sand to ensure there are no sticks, rocks, broken glass, or other dangerous objects hiding inside. Anything sharp or large can cause harm, because even very young children will be sitting in the sand and playing in it.
The sand should be sifted before every play session to ensure that kids stay safe. Plastic toys can break and little pieces of debris from the yard can find their way inside the sandbox, and kids are bound to find these items with the bare skin. Use a rake to check the sand, and rake it at least once every two weeks even if the sandbox is not in use.
Covering your sandbox is the only way to keep animals out of the sandbox. Get a cover that fits your sandbox precisely, and make sure it can't be dislodged easily. A determined raccoon can knock over and open a trash can, so sandboxes need to pose a challenge.
Weatherproofing Your Backyard
Make sure your backyard playground equipment is ready to withstand daily use, winter weather, and everything else that kids are going to throw at it. They can build a whole childhood full of memories on what’s in your backyard. Help them do it with good weatherproofing, winterizing, and regular maintenance.