Playground project




Our kid and her little cousins are growing up fast and are in a need of an outdoor activity space in the back yard, so I spent the weekend designing a playground to be built this summer.

On the backside of the climbing wall there would be an activity wall on the first floor and a blackboard wall on the second floor. There is a sandbox and a box for toys on the first floor.

The kids would be age 2-3 by summer so the climbing wall would be kept at an apropriate height for their age.

The build itself would be done by an experienced carpenter, so I did not focus on joinery detail and the foundation.

This is my first time designing anything like this, so comments are welcome. Any obvious safty issues visible?

I’ll keep you guys updated on the project progress.


Lovely idea.

I did just wonder if a kid running out of the house in the second image could get hit by the swing? If it is swinging high, it might not be visible easily from inside.


Cool model - this looks really nice and a carpenter would have no trouble interpreting it.
I love the design too -looks like a lot of fun to play in. Whoever gets the top of the castle is obviously the King or Queen.

A few safety & design comments:

  • The swing is quite close to the wall and may hit it. The metal pole also needs to be a safe distance from the swing or have a soft pad covering it. Plastic pipe over the chain will stop little fingers getting caught (and look nicer).
  • Climbing wall needs something soft under it to land on. I guess you’ll have removable grips (with bolts) to adjust the dififculty and set new courses.
    -Good soil drainage under the swings will promote grass growth.
  • I’m not sure how the climbing rope will work. Maybe a rope ladder instead? (one with a ‘wobbly’ mount so it’s challenging to climb). Or a metal pole to slide down. Or a rope to swing on (need more space for this however).
  • Once you get to the top of the climbing wall, where d you go? Maybe a ledge to walk around the side, or do you just want them to climb back down?
  • There are no gutters or downpipes. Openings may benefit from a small eyelid flashing to keep the worst of the water out.

One of the challenges of playhouse designs is to create an overall size & configuration large enough that it can grow and adapt as the kids get older. They can be quite an investment when made well. You’ve designed an excellent size of playhouse for kids aged 3 to 6. The climbing wall suits older kids. Can a kid aged 9yo stand up inside? Could it become a more enclosed playhouse or gazebo (sans slide and swings), or a hobby room for older kids with a bit of easy expansion?
Simply using floor joists and panels that are bolted rather than nailed could make it quite versatile.


Good call,

I think the normal swing could then be mowed to the furthest spot and the kid one be substituted with a net swing, that can’t be pushed that high.


Any scope to add a flying fox?


Thank you for the comments,

I’ll have to look up some size and safety standards for playgrounds.

Exploring the option with a ladder and I wonder if the end should be loose or rather tied to the ground?

By flying fox, did you mean a zip-line? That could be an option. The stairs would fit perfectly for that.

Here is an update with a net swing and a rope ladder. I was also thinking of some lowering mechanism for the climbing wall. I wonder how much these things cost. Could also leave a hole in the wall to climb to the second floor.


is this for the back yard or a communally accessible space?

make it ‘fun’ to play on and just get the neighbours to sign indemnities if your worried…

in your first image, I thought the panel blocking the ability to ‘leap’ onto the top of the rope was the main flaw…

also, roof access seems restrictive, that’s where my daughter spent the most time on any structures we built for play…

before you think I’m a ‘safety’ agnostic, I will add that we moved the trampoline from the house roof when she could bounce higher than the distance to the parapet wall…



Yeah, a zip line aka “flying fox” (British term?)

The top mount of the ladder could be moved inward, and the anchor ropes moved further away from the playhouse, (to create a more ‘bridge-like’ ladder). This would enable access up from the ladder into the interior. If you want to make the ladder more difficult to climb, locate the lower two anchor ropes closer together :stuck_out_tongue:

A ledge could be placed on the left hand side of the stair rail to walk onto after climbing the wall? But the lowering mechanism is useful - maybe there’s a little harness to wear and a simple pulley at the top? (a spotter is then required, or a counterweight). Maybe the zip line is at the top of the wall so it’s the ‘reward’ for climbing up?

A small trampoline sunk into the ground under the wall would be a dual purpose tramp+safe landing

Size wise, the carpenter will utilize wood panels and easy lengths of timber for efficiency, so you should make it as big as the materials practically allow. I couldn’t imagine a playhouse ever being “too big”. The play structures you see in local parks have very small interior spaces, because they don’t want kids hanging out there for long periods of time (or getting lost). At home you will have kids throwing ‘tea parties’ and doing ‘clubhouse’ activities that carry on for hours and involve numerous kids, rain or shine…

The small crossbar on the swing support could be lowered/widened to make it a height/size the kids can climb/dangle on (also, you can do your quota of daily chin-ups).

This could go on forever! I wish i got to design more playgrounds in my day job…!
You might enjoy this site for some ‘theme’ inspiration: (I love the water cannon idea)


I was thinking more about the ergonomics of playgrounds, that directly translates to safety.

Tried to make the design with enough private space, so I wouldn’t want to lose the panel on the upper floor. I imagine that some sort of plastic curtain in front of the slide and an interior wall and door could help to make place more livable (and protected from mosquitoes) if the kids would decide to spend a warm summer night there.


Modified the model to fit standard material dimensions and simplified it a bit.

Separated the frame components and then put all of the individual pieces for a cut list.

Got my first experience working at our old saw mill making the10x10cm beams.


Run it by your insurance agent that manages your home owners policy.


Would that be something very relevant in the US? I’m not sure about the need for that in my country.


It would be a concern if you have an insurance policy.



Fun thread, playhouse looks great!

I design sets, equipment and custom apparatus for pro circus and wanted to add a tiny correction. I would advise against using a trampoline as “cushioning”. While it appears to be a good idea at first glance the reality of coming down hard and uncontrolled on an energy storing/returning device vs energy absorbing mat often results in more injury than less. Bodies not balanced intentionally over their CG tend to go flying off in unpredictable directions, one of which is face first into the wall. Just a suggestion, I’ve designed a bunch of custom trampline sets, they are awesome! But not for fall protection.

Also I also vote for a portal to the inside of the structure at the top of climbing wall. Climbing up is physically much easier than downclimbing. My kids have a climbing wall on their treehouse and it has become the preferred method of getting in, sees way more use than the ladder, and having a goal for getting to the top helped encourage trying out that route.

Very cool mill, I love watching videos of the old wind powered reciprocating mills. Good Luck!


Depending on where you live I don’t that is always such an issue. What can be an issue (depending on the size) is if you need planning permission or not.


@liamk887 Liam have you turned into a laptop? Or have you gone inside the system like TRON?


No just my laziness, I was working late last night and then could not be bothered to fix it… I was trying to get it to be a dinosaur but instead got my desk !!!

Ahh I would like to go into Tron, I imagine it would be warmer than this snow…


As Endlessfix said, it wouldn’t be safe. Better use shock-absorbing sand under the climbing wall and the swings. For public playgrounds here in the EU where we both live, there is an EU directive where the type and thickness is specified. The firms that supply park and playground materials should know. The idea is to have a homogenous grain so that the sand doesn’t compress or harden.


Here is how I imagine a simple lowering mechanism could look like.

As there is empty space available in the wall I could put a weight in there, that would allow for smooth landing. Could add an adjustable brake between two pulleys and cover it up with a guard plate. At the bottom could add some cushening under the weight.

The 120 cm descent that the mechanism provides would go low enough for safe landing.
I just wonder if I might be over-complicating this.