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How To Make A Garden!



October 2017



Sweet Small Yard Swing Set Solution

Written by , Posted in Garden Ideas

We made a fairly large purchase a few weeks ago, just before we left on our cross-country journey. It was something we’ve researched and talked about for the entire 16 months we’ve occupied our St. Louis city dwelling.


It wasn’t an easy decision, we needed something that wouldn’t overwhelm and/or crowd our small backyard. We looked for “compact” or “small” play sets, playgrounds, swing sets, you name it, we googled it. The best option seemed to be going through a custom swing set company…until we saw the prices. OMG.

So we gave up for a while. We tried a few different things with the odd area in front of our small garage.

First up, a garden plan. The former owners left a nice little plot so we figured it was well-suited for growing veggies.



The garden was what can only be described as a huge embarrassing failure. Our yard just doesn’t get enough sun so all the lettuce, spinach, peppers, and tomatoes we planted bit the dust. Fast.

We removed the railroad ties after the garden disaster because they just didn’t make sense, then just mulched the area. We tried a sandbox, but with all our spring rain even a cover couldn’t keep out the mold and moisture, making the sand very gross. We tried just putting trucks and toys out there but Ethan wasn’t all that interested.


So…once the weather really got nice we revisited our swing set idea with a much different attitude. At first, we were just going to copy a design but make it smaller, buying all the materials separately. But after pricing out a few modify-able set options, we realized just how much more economical they are.

This one was a big contender and had a great price tag, but this one was just so much prettier. And since it would live RIGHT in the middle of our backyard, we wanted something that looked really nice. The price difference was significant but the online reviews were stellar and the second option had everything we knew Ethan would love. Both would need some modifications to fit our space properly, but that was an unavoidable issue.

Out of pure impatience and frustration, Stu ordered the Gorilla Nantucket playset. Home Depot offered free shipping so all the sudden, it was done.


In my Googling, I found our favorite playset featured on the very cute Confessions of a Serial DIYer blog and sent the author Christy a comment about it—her pictures proved this swing set would be perfect for our space! Well the day after we made our purchase, Christy replied with rave reviews and a link to the SAME playground at Walmart.

For $480 cheaper.

WHAT??? I profusely thanked Christy and got on the phone with Home Depot. The extremely nice and helpful customer service rep thoroughly reviewed the Walmart listing—we went through line by line—and in the end, she agreed it was the same exact playset, just much much cheaper. A price match was granted!

I may have done a little dance after hanging up the phone. I’m a Home Depot shopper for life!

(Note: Walmart has since changed this listing to “out of stock”. Not sure it had anything to do with us, but I wonder…)

Fast forward a few weeks to a giant pallet of really heavy boxes being delivered to our curb and it took about 8,500 trips to get all the pieces to the backyard.



Ethan was PUMPED to help. Pants-less. Our neighbors must think we are SO classy with our curb boxes and underwear-clad kid.

And after claiming it would take “a couple weekends” to put together, Stu knocked out 98% of the project in one Saturday.




Our main modifications included same-side slide and rock wall and, most importantly, the swing bar mounted across the front instead of off to the side. Before buying, we checked the materials list to be sure the beam would be extra solid. Worked like a charm and didn’t make our small yard look any smaller.

Ethan looked over Stu’s shoulder all day waiting for that first swing to be hung. It took him about four seconds to figure out the whole back-less swing thing and got himself going, fiercely pumping those little legs.

Here’s what pure happiness looks like.


Stu was a man on a mission and assembled the set like a pro—I’m not sure he even stopped for lunch. We left off a couple of the accessories, like the tic-tac-toe game and trapeze, but plan to include them in the future. We’re just so thrilled with the look and fit and quality of the set.


The cedar stain and roof details are really lovely…and less work. We will have to seal the set in the next month or so, but at least the staining is done.


I’m thrilled we can see the whole set from the back porch and from the kitchen window. Ethan’s at that perfect age where he can go out to play independently while I can still keep a close eye on his whereabouts.

Oh and the key point in that paragraph? Play independently. Putting this super fun set in our yard has kept Ethan entertained every single day. We can’t walk from the garage to the house without him making a detour, announcing “I’m gonna play out here for a while.” He eats snacks and even meals in the fort have buddies over to play and use his imagination to have little backyard adventures.

He is apparently keeping a pet dragon under the fort.

We’re thinking this timing couldn’t have been better…what with Peanut #2 on the way and all. While we love walking to the park and exploring our fine city, spending an afternoon in the backyard from time to time is really nice.

Yes, this was a big ticket item. But so far we are 110% ecstatic about finally making the purchase. It really finishes our little city yard. The yard that looks completely different than it did a year ago.

Wanna come over to play??!!

**I feel like I have to add this little note because I get SO many emails and comments about this swing set solution! We modified this structure ourselves without any input from the manufacturer, therefore we are not guaranteeing any safety regulations or warranties are being followed. This is just what we did, so build at your own risk! That said, I’ve emailed the manufacturer and maybe they will incorporate a few ideas for a set in the future? There seem to be a lot of us small-yard folks out there!

Source: preparingforpeanut.com

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