Homeowners often aspire to have attractive backyards that look like they belong in a magazine. While these can be picturesque and functional for adults, they may not be entirely practical for homeowners who have young children, especially when the majority of the yard is covered with paving stones or concrete.
The Canada Safety Society advises parents to follow the "5 S's of Playground Safety": Surface, structures, site, supervision and safety.
Surface: Parents should assume that children will fall. To lessen the blow of falls, choose playground equipment with a perimeter of six feet of a softer surface, such as sand, pea gravel, rubber pieces or wood chips. This material should be between six and 12 inches deep.
Structure: The structure of the play equipment should be built from sturdy materials. Pressure-treated lumber was once the standard, but it's not adviseable for kids' playgrounds, as the chemicals used in the lumber can leach and young children may actually bite or pick at the wood. Use cedar or another wood that resists decay.
Site: Look around the landscape for an ideal place to locate the playset. There should be no obstacles that children can hit while sliding or swinging.
Supervision: Do not leave children alone while they are playing. Prevent children from using the playset in an incorrect manner.
Safety: Follow the directions for installation. Make sure all posts are anchored into the ground securely. Railings should be spaced so that children cannot get stuck between them. Check that metal components have not rusted.