Swinging causes a range of stimulation, from a calming back-and-forth rhythm to a wild ride through space. It rocks babies to sleep, encourages relaxation in adults, and absorbs tons of adolescent energy. Swinging offers an enjoyable way to build core muscles and develop motor skills, and it’s so much fun it doesn’t feel like exercise.
The limb of a big, strong tree can support a backyard swing while also providing shade to the play area and a powerful physical connection to nature. Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of tree swings available, suited to different children’s ages, swing styles, and budgets. Read on to explore the types of tree swings, learn what quality features to look for, and find out why these eight soared to become our top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: PACEARTH 40 Inch Saucer Tree Swing
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: PACEARTH Swing Seat
- BEST TRADITIONAL: HAPPY PIE PLAY&ADVENTURE Nostalgic Wooden Swing
- BEST ROPE: Jungle Gym Kingdom Tree Swing Climbing Rope
- BEST MULTI-PERSON: Trekassy 700lb Giant 60″ Platform Tree Swing
- BEST BUCKET: Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing
- BEST STAND-UP SWING: Swurfer, the Original Stand-Up Surfing Swing
- BEST FOR BABIES: Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing
Common Types of Tree Swings
Tree swings come in numerous styles for kids and grownups of all ages. They can be single- or double-rope designs, with seating for none, one, or several riders at once.
Traditional tree swings are made of two ropes and a board seat. The ropes either connect to metal anchors on the board, or they pass through the board to fasten with a knot on the bottom. These single-seat swings are used by older children who have graduated from baby and bucket swings, as well as adults.
Some modern versions of the traditional swing use flexible plastic for the seat and may replace the ropes with chains for greater durability and linear strength. Flexible seats offer more security for younger users, but older kids and adults tend to prefer a rigid seat for more roominess.
Basic rope swings are made with a single length of rope. This design allows for the increased range of motion and requires greater strength to operate safely. The rope may be smooth and straight or have knots along the length or a foot loop near the bottom. Rope swing seats are often made by passing the rope through a wooden or plastic disc and knotting it beneath.
There are numerous ways to use a rope swing, from straddling a seat to simply gripping a knot with both hands to swing. Rope swings are best for kids over age 10 and adults due to the wide range of motion and a relatively higher degree of dexterity needed for control.
A multi-person tree swing can be any large swing that holds up to three adults or five children. Many seats are disc-shaped, with the disc measuring between 40 and 60 inches across. Other surface areas may be shaped like porch swings, hammocks, or broad rectangular platforms. These swings may be supported by a single rope or a double-rope system.
Multi-person swing components must be strong and capable of supporting between 300 and 700 pounds. Note that the tree branch must also be hefty enough for riders’ safety: A minimum branch diameter of 8 inches is suggested, but a heavier swing would be more safely hung from a larger, stronger branch up to 10 inches in diameter or larger.
Baby swings are designed for infants and toddlers to enjoy a gentle back-and-forth motion. They are supported by a double-rope anchor system that avoids twisting. The seat should ideally offer an adjustable harness for upper body and torso support in both directions.
The best baby swings offer a transitional harness system designed to be safe for infants. The shoulder harness should be removable so that toddlers can begin making the transition to a bucket swing. Some models allow the child to transition from a baby swing directly to a traditional swing.
As the name implies, a bucket swing resembles a bucket with holes cut on the bottom. The swing “fits” like a pair of shorts, with a top-entry approach and the legs going into individual openings at the base of the seat—a design that protects against sliding out or falling off the seat.
Bucket swings help toddlers and young children transition from baby swings to traditional swings. The best bucket seats are made with flexible material that conforms to the child’s body shape. They are supported by a rope or coated chain that protects against pinching and hot temperatures.
Many big kids like to swing standing up, but not all swings can be stood upon safely. Stand-up swings are designed for a dynamic play session, without the danger of the platform falling off or crashing into the tree. They range from single-rope designs to double-rope designs, with a variety of secure platform styles.
What to Consider When Buying a Tree Swing
With proper selection and safe, sturdy installation, tree swings can offer tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Learn about the types, sizes, and materials available—and also consider tree selection—as you shop for a swing.
Traditionally, tree swings were made from rope and either a wood plank or an old tire. They’ve come a long way in the past few decades, with new designs for greater safety, comfort, and fun. Older kids and adults enjoy traditional, rope, stand-up, and multi-person tree swings. Traditional and multi-person swings afford a simple, relaxing time while rope and stand-up styles add excitement.
Infants, toddlers, and young children progress from highly secure baby swings to bucket-style swings, to the more “big kid” styles typically by age 4 or 5. Baby swings are very secure, and suitable for infants and toddlers, while bucket swings allow more range of movement with greater security than traditional swings. Choosing the right swing for each child’s age helps to ensure both safety and fun.
Some swings are suitable only for a young child, while others can hold the whole family at once. For safety’s sake, buy a swing with enough surface area and a high enough weight capacity for its likely users.
Traditional wooden plank swings are made for one user at a time. Most are rated for a maximum weight of between 200 and 250 pounds. Larger disc swings measure 40 to 60 inches across and hold one adult or several small children comfortably. They are made with heavy-duty frames and sturdy fabric covers that can hold 600 to 700 pounds or more. Oversized platform swings are made with similar heavy-duty materials but offer larger surface areas that can hold two or three adult riders or numerous children. Oversized swings may be rated for weights up to 700 to 750 pounds or more.
Tree swings are made of materials that offer durability and comfort. Wooden plank seats are still available for traditional style swings. Disc and platform style swings incorporate tubular steel frames and heavy-duty oxford fabric. EVA plastic is a popular material for molded baby swings and various other swing components. All of these materials resist ultraviolet sunlight and hold up well in all kinds of weather.
Polyester rope is ideal for tree swings as it’s strong, holds up to the elements, and doesn’t stretch. It should be thin enough to grasp easily, and not so thin that it may break. Thicknesses between 5/8 inch for a double-rope swing and up to 1 inch for a single-rope swing are sufficient.
Chain is durable and can support considerable weight, but the moving links may pinch fingers. PVC-coated swing chain provides the strength required of a metal chain, with added protection to prevent injury.
Tree Branch Height
Branch height affects swing arc, which delineates the distance the swing travels forward and back, and overall swing safety. The ideal branch height for a tree swing is between 10 and 15 feet. Branches lower than 10 feet do not allow a large enough swing arc, causing the swing to move back and forth at short intervals—not as fun or relaxing as a long, smooth motion.
Branches higher than 15 feet allow the swing to easily attain dangerous heights at the front and rear extents of the swing arc. Higher branches are also more difficult and dangerous to inspect regularly, and perform safety maintenance on its anchor parts.
Length of Rope
A tree swing rope needs to be long enough to go around the branch, tie a knot, then run below the swing seat and tie another knot. An easy way to calculate the proper length of rope is to multiply the branch height by 2, and then add 12 feet (4 yards).
Chain length will be shorter than rope because the chain is fastened to an anchor system at the top and bottom, so there is no need to add the extra 12 feet. Only measure twice the distance from the branch to the ground.
When buying a tree swing, some rope or chain is often included. Use the above calculation to determine if you will need to purchase extra rope or chain to complete the installation.
Tree swing injuries range from sprained fingers and rope burns to broken bones and much worse. Adult supervision plus a few simple safety features will help to limit the chances of injury, without interrupting the fun. The most important feature is the site. A strong, healthy tree branch, with a swinging area and landing zone free of branches, stones, exposed roots, and other hazards is critical. The ground should be covered with grass, natural mulch such as old leaves, or actual mulch.
Use a safe anchoring system to connect the swing to the branch. Straps made of webbing are superior to either rope or bolts for connecting the swing to the branch. They protect the branch from abrasion, do not restrict growth when properly secured, and eliminate the need to drill into the wood. Look for anchor straps with reinforced, stitched web loops and locking carabiners.
Swings for small children should offer added upper-body support and eliminate pinch points. The best swings for babies are those with harness-style supports for the shoulders and torso. Toddlers can support themselves on the swing, but still, need the security of an enclosed seat to avoid slipping off. A rope or coated chain is the best mounting material to avoid pinched fingers.
Our Top Picks
We factored in different swing styles, materials, manufacturer reputation, and safety considerations to compile these top picks. The reviews should help you choose the best tree swing for your backyard. Whee!
The PACEARTH 40 Inch Saucer Tree Swing is certified “Safe for Children” by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and boasts superior strength thanks to heavy-duty, UV resistant 900D fabric (many competitors use lighter 600D fabric). Rather than simple twisted rope, this swing includes stronger multiple-strand braided rope with a 660-pound load capacity.
The kit includes nylon webbing straps and locking carabiners to hang the swing. The 40-inch round platform is large enough for an adult with a small child, or several small children. The adjustable ropes have a maximum length of about 70 inches (5 feet, 10 inches). The mounting straps are long enough to mount on an 8- to 10-inch diameter branch. This is a great all-around backyard swing for young families.
The reasonably priced PACEARTH Tree Swing, with its 660-pound load capacity, is strong enough for children or adults. The kit includes a 26 by 5.5-inch EVA plastic sling seat, 68.9-inch safety coated chains, and 23.6-inch polyester web hang straps. Locking buckles at the seat and branch connections allow for easy setup and adjustment. The hang straps safely attach to a tree branch without drilling, friction, and girdling that would damage the tree. The chains are zinc-plated for durability in all kinds of weather, and PVC coated to prevent pinching and snagging. The EVA seat holds up to weather extremes without damage.
This swing quickly assembles and adjusts at the top or bottom with threaded, locking quick links. The 26-inch U-shaped seat is comfortable for small children and larger adults. The 5.5-inch width and single connection point on either end of the seat give the swing a free forward-backward tilt motion.
For old-school fun, the HAPPY PIE PLAY&ADVENTURE Nostalgic Wooden Swing has the look and feel of wood and rope. It connects easily to either a tree or a backyard playset. The durable 17.32 by 6.89-inch pinewood seat has a natural, paintable finish. The included polyethylene ropes are adjustable from 46 to 70.8 inches.
This kit includes the wooden seat and pre-installed polyethylene ropes; limb attachment hardware is sold separately. This swing makes an excellent upgrade for when a child outgrows a baby swing or bucket swing. It easily attaches to an existing playset, or to a strong tree limb.
The Jungle Gym Kingdom Tree Swing Climbing Rope offers a highly active play experience with both swinging and climbing options, with all materials ASTM approved. The kit includes a 12-inch seat disc, four textured 4-inch climbing platforms, a soft braided polyethylene climbing rope with a metal ring, a locking carabiner, and a 4-foot tree strap.
This swing is rated for a weight limit of up to 150 pounds. The overall length of this rope swing is 129.6 inches (10.8 feet). The rope adjusts shorter by raising the seat and tying a higher knot, or by either adding or removing slack in the tree strap.
The Trekassy 700lb Giant 60” Platform Tree Swing has plenty of room for the whole family. The 25mm tubular steel platform frame measures 60 by 32 inches. It is covered with tight weave 900D oxford fabric and connects to the ropes with steel eye bolts. The 12mm thick polyethylene ropes adjust from 47 to 71 inches.
Two 5-foot tree straps and stainless steel carabiners securely and safely attach the swing to any suitable tree branch. This swing should be mounted to a larger branch, 10 inches in diameter or greater, to safely swing at the full weight capacity. This is a sturdy family swing with capacity for up to two adults or five children.
Little ones can get into the swing of things with the Eastern Jungle Gym Full Bucket Toddler Swing. It’s made of durable, flexible copolymer plastic designed to hold up to the elements without fading or cracking. The deep bucket design features a high back that provides plenty of support to keep your tyke snug and secure.
The kit includes 66-inch zinc-coated chains, with 30 inches of protective plastisol coating that eliminates pinching and snagging. The seat measures 11.5 inches front to back, 10 inches side to side, and 11.5 inches deep. This is a quality transitional swing for toddlers and young children who can support their own weight but need the added security of a wraparound seat.
The Swurfer’s unique curved shape is designed to deliver more power and stability with a wider range of motion than a traditional flat swing platform. The 33- x 10-inch board, made of a single piece of hard maple, is individually shaped, sanded, and finished by hand, with a clear coat for weather protection and grommets to protect the board from rope wear. The adjustable handles fit riders of any height, but this stand-up swing is best suited for ages 6 and up, with a maximum weight of 200 pounds.
The kit also includes two wood handles and two 30-foot lengths of double-braided UV and mildew resistant rope. This swing should be hung the same distance from the tree trunk as the height of the branch above the ground. For instance, if the branch is 10 feet high, the swing should be 10 feet from the tree trunk. The ideal branch height for maximum movement on this swing board is 15 feet; branches lower than 8 feet will not allow the rider to achieve the full range of motion.
Babies don’t stay babies for long, so the Little Tikes Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing is cleverly designed to convert to a toddler swing. An easy-in hinged T-bar and stay-put shoulder straps provide security for infants with shoulder attachment points. When the child no longer requires the T-bar and straps, they remove easily for storage.
The kit includes pre-installed poly ropes and quick-connect hooks for swing set installation. Additional rope length and tree straps are required for tree branch installation (tree straps are sold separately). This swing is intended for use by children ages 9 months to 4 years, with a weight limit of 50 pounds.
FAQs About Your New Tree Swing
To get the most out of your new tree swing, be sure to hang it in a safe location and keep it in good condition. Read on for answers to frequently asked questions on how best to install and maintain a tree swing for many years of fun.
Q. Are tree swings safe?
If made of quality materials, installed properly, and used correctly, tree swings can be a safe way to have fun. To ensure a tree swing’s safety, hang it in a strong, healthy tree, at least 3 feet away from the trunk, on a sound branch at least 8 inches in diameter. The ground beneath should be fairly level and covered with grass or a 3-inch layer of mulch. Inspect the seat, rope or chain, all connections, and the tree at least once each season.
Q. How high should a tree swing be off the ground?
Hang the swing so that the seat is 16 to 24 inches off the ground while unoccupied. The branch will flex when someone sits on the seat. When occupied, the seat should be at least 10 inches off the ground.
Q. How do you choose a tree for a swing?
Choose a strong tree species, like beech, oak, sycamore, or maple. Avoid weaker species such as pine, poplar, spruce, willow, and birch. The tree should be strong and sound, with no signs of disease, decay, or cracks.