Spoiler Alert – We finished the swingset last Saturday!
What started out as a large Christmas gift turned into an all-summer project. You may recall that in "Kitchen Faucet", I included an in-progress picture of "the pit" as a teaser. Here is the full story.
In the spring, CJ downloaded the instructions for the swingset, and found that the manufacturer recommended a 25’x36′ box, filled with at least 9 inches of mulch or pea-gravel for safety. We didn’t relish having a 9" or 12" step up to get to the swingset, so we made the decision to dig down, and sink the box into the ground.
Let’s see – 25′ x 36′ x 9" = 25 cubic yards.
“Moving 25 cubic yards of root-laden, rock-infested dirt shouldn’t be too hard by hand, “ said No One Ever.
I spent one entire Saturday in June trying it, and managed to move less than 1 cubic yard. We needed a better option. CJ and I talked about hiring it done, but we were trying to keep costs down. Then CJ asked, "Could we just rent a Bobcat?"
Yes. Yes we could. Things went a LOT faster after that.
Of course, being a family project, the entire family had to get in on it.
And we were all geeking out about it.
Driving the Bobcat never got old.
It took us all Saturday, and part of Sunday, but we got the pit dug. The following weekend, we started laying out the box that would keep the wood chips in, and the rest of the yard out. I looked for several weeks for something I could attach to a 2×10 that could be driven into the ground. My solution was hacky-at-best. CJ swooped in again to save the day with her find – garden-framing brackets from FrameItAll:
These brackets mount to the end of a 1×6, and the spikes drive into the ground.
The spikes come in two varieties – ground spikes and stacking spikes. The latter would allow us to stack two boards, one on top of the other.
We started in the back corner, and worked our way around the pit.
Random math factoid. Katherine + Power Tools = Fear and Chaos
We intentionally left out one entire section of the box as a "ramp", thinking ahead to when we would have dozens (if not hundreds) of wheelbarrow-fulls of mulch to drop in.
Before we could get there, though, we found we needed to put some of the dirt back. Apparently, we went a little overboard with the Bobcat in taking it out, and there were places that were several inches deeper than we wanted.
That took us several weekends to complete, mostly because a) it kept raining on the days we were going to work on it, and b) we were really, REALLY getting sick of moving dirt around. The day we finished it could not come soon enough.
Now it was on to the swingset itself.
We unboxed it, and found our first step was to pummel the snot out of innocent scraps of wood.
Ok, the pummeling served to drive the A-frame pieces together so they were snug, but the wood wasn’t fooled for one second.
Then we got to step 2.
Ah yes, step 2. We need how many bolts? And we have HOW many bolts?
We found we were missing at least one entire bag of hardware. So, we assembled what we could, and put in a call to the manufacturer for replacement parts.
The parts came in a week or so later, and we resumed assembly.
Only to find that we STILL didn’t have enough parts. CJ, not wanting to wait another week or more for parts, ran out to Lowe’s and found screws that matched what we were short on. That allowed us to keep going, and not waste the rest of the day.
CJ and I got the swingset upright, and I tightened everything down.
The two of us moved the set into position, and discovered to our utter amazement that it was nearly perfectly level right where it was.
Then, of course, we had to try it out. You know – break it in?
We added the swings themselves, guestimating how high they would need to be once the mulch was in place.
Before we could get the mulch in, though, we needed to lay down weed fabric. It didn’t take very long, but it sucked – literally – because of all of the mosquitos out that night.
And then came the mulch.
22 cubic yards of it.
And an army of helpers to move it.
We put wood down the ramp, and through the middle of the pit to keep the wheelbarrows from tearing up the weed fabric. Then we raked the mulch into position. It worked fairly well.
Once the bulk of the mulch was in, we finished the wall.
We were storing the extra wood behind the house, where it was shielded from the sun most of the day. When you put those next to the ones that had been out in the sun for weeks, you can really see the difference.
We strapped some pool noodles to the cross-beams on the swingset ’cause running into those things with your forehead ends the happy thoughts.
Ask CJ how she knows.
We filled in the rest of the mulch, and also filled in the outside of the box with dirt to level things out again.
The big pieces of this project were now done.
A huge thank you to all the grandparents, John from down the street (not pictured), and my brother for helping bring this massive project to a successful conclusion.
The girls love it, and every day since we finished have asked "Can I go out and swing?"