If you have an outdoor wooden swing set that sits in the direct sun, finding ways to provide shade to the area may be a concern. Too much sun is a health issue for any of us, but more so for children. Not only does sunburn cause skin cancer and facilitate aging, play equipment can get dangerously hot when exposed to constant direct sunlight and heat.
Most of the larger wooden play sets come with decorative tarps to cover the decks where children sit and play. These are designed to help reduce exposure to the sun but over time these tarps become worn and brittle from exposure to the elements. Because these tarps are designed to shade the children while they are playing, they should be replaced when necessary. Even if your play set does have a cover it will not shade the whole area.
There are several options available to shade an outdoor play area. The easiest and most obvious of these options would be to place your playset in the shade of some beautiful trees. If trees are not an option you could consider outdoor tents or large tarps.
Which is the best option for a swing set?
There are a variety of inexpensive outdoor tents but, most of these tents are not meant to be left in place and the support poles and material are not usually strong enough to hold up against the outdoor elements. These inexpensive outdoor tents and gazebos are generally designed to be put up and taken back down within a fairly short time and they probably would not be large enough to cover a large wooden playset. If you are thinking of using a tent to shade a large swing set or backyard play area, you will probably be disappointed.
Most inexpensive, general use tents are designed to be tall enough to stand under and are intended for short-term entertaining or relaxing in the yard. An outdoor wooden swing set is generally much higher than you are and will also have an area around the structure where children will be playing.
Using a tarp to shade the play area is another alternative that will probably not work. Once again, the issue of finding a way to anchor it around the swing set will be an issue. Deciding if the tarp is to be attached to the swing set and where and how to anchor it beyond the set are probably the biggest drawbacks. A tarp hanging over the swing set may also create an eyesore..
Another alternative for creating shade around an outdoor wooden swing set, or any other play area is to plant trees around the area. Trees can be slow growing and will drop leaves and debris in the spring and fall. There are a variety of trees that are fast growing and will provide plenty of shade as they mature. Planting trees will probably not provide much shade right away but fast growing trees could provide plenty of shade in a few short years.