It’s time to rethink how we use our backyards. With more time spent at home, many families are turning to nostalgic childhood memories for inspiration for pandemic-friendly fun. Many are building treehouses, rope swings, aerial courses, and zip lines to keep their kids active and occupied.
If you’re already starting to imagine where to hang the rope swing, or fasten the ladder, or set up the jungle gym, Scott Black, owner of Lakeside Tree Experts, suggests taking a moment to make sure your trees are assessed and suitable for added play structures.
Selecting the right tree
“You need to consider the species of tree, its age, condition, and whether it will be able to support the added weight required to anchor or fasten the structure,” says Scott.
Look for deciduous hardwoods that are native to the region. For Simcoe and Muskoka, these include red and white Oak, sugar or red Maple, Ironwood, Beech, and yellow Birch. If you have conifers in your backyard, you may need to incorporate several in a grouping for strength. Scott says Hemlock and Eastern white Pine are great options, as well.
Regardless of the tree species, it’s important that you also look at the tree’s health and structural integrity. Dead limbs, decay, and cavities can be indicators of larger structural issues that could make the tree unsafe for climbing or even playing under.
“Even if your family is just playing under the trees, it’s important to eliminate any risk of falling deadwood that can fall and break structures or injure our loved ones,” says Scott.
Your best tool for protecting your trees, yard, and loved ones is through regular tree maintenance. Certified arborists can quickly identify possible tree hazards, prune to remove dead wood and unsafe limbs, and address trees that may be at risk.
If you currently have a treehouse or rope swing and are worried about the strength and integrity of the trees supporting it, Scott suggests installing braces and cables to reinforce the tree and make it stronger.
If you are finding tree debris, such as sticks and branches in or around your child’s sandbox or playset, call a tree expert to make sure the trees that are shading your children won’t harm them as they play.
“Give us a call,” says Scott. “We’ll assess the situation and support your trees so you can enjoy your property to its fullest.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE | PHOTOS SCOTT TURNBULL