Playsets are amazing for getting children to spend more time outdoors. There’s a wide array of sizes and configurations available, designed for every kind of yard—or even indoor use. When it comes to choosing a product for your own backyard, you’ll want to take into account the quality of the materials, sturdiness, safety and fun factor… but it also needs to fit in your space. To help you narrow the search for a playset that works in your narrow yard—or on your deck or in your living room—we’ve chosen our favorite compact playsets for a number of price points, age groups, and (most importantly) fun factor.
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Tips for Choosing a Good Little Playset
If you’ve never had to buy a playset before, knowing what to look for can be a bit confusing. And when your space is constrained, you might think it’s out of the question. The good news is that we’ve got you covered. Here’s a point-by-point list of what to look for and where to find what you need.
“Safety first” is a cliche for a reason: This is the first point you need to consider when looking for a playset of any size. This means that you have to look carefully at the materials used to make the product, as well as any mentions that the construction and materials of choice meet the safety standards imposed by your local regulations. If you opt for metal or wood products, you can rarely go wrong, but “rarely” isn’t the same as “never.”
Keep in mind that a wooden playset might splinter, metal options might rust, and plastic might not be able to support the weight and ruckus of your kids. In other words, even if a product meets safety standards, you still have to do a little bit of research: Can you maintain this playset in good condition to prevent safety hazards, and on its own, does the playset seem capable of weathering the abuse of happy, growing children?
Some people have the advantage of owning a big yard, while others have limited space they have to work with. If you know your lawn is small, or you have just the space on your deck or patio, then you need to measure first. Don’t forget to measure the available height of your space if your patio is covered, for example, or if your small lawn has a tree with low branches.
When comparing product dimensions online, be sure you’re reviewing the dimensions of the fully assembled product and not those of the package it’s shipped in.
If you’re considering a playset with a swing, be certain that the swing can be used in your space, as well. Some extend six or eight feet beyond the feet of the frame, depending on the height and length of the chains.
A playset can be a really good investment, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. If you need something that will last a season or two, suffice for now, or will likely be outgrown before it’s worn out, a bargain is a good idea (provided the playset in question is safe). If you’re hoping to keep the playset around for more than two or three years, expect to invest more upfront in a durable option that will last.
Where to Buy
If you want to make this purchase online, you can check out third-party retailers that offer such products, like Amazon, or you can go directly to the manufacturer’s website if you already have a list of respected playset brands that you want to look into and trust. Most home improvement stores, including Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menard’s, sell outdoor play equipment online, as does Walmart.
One of the biggest problems with playset is having to put them together. Some of them can be set up in minutes, while others can take you a full day to assemble. For the most part, wooden playsets take the longest time to install, but so do plastic ones. The trick is to look for products that come with all the needed hardware and the pre-drilled holes necessary to make the assembly process as frustration-free as possible.
Another important thing to look after is the included accessories that are available with the playset you purchase. For instance, if you want to invest in a ball pit, does it have a considerable number of balls, or do you have to buy them separately? Does the outdoor playhouse you’re looking at come with playing accessories or do you have to spend extra money to buy the toys needed for a full playing experience?
Best 5 Compact Backyard Playset Reviews
Now that we all know a little bit more about what makes a good backyard playset, we’ve put together a list with some of our most favorite products and tried to stay as objective as possible when reviewing them. Chances are you’ll find something in here that your children will fancy.
Best little outdoor playset for toddlers
When it comes to finding the best outdoor playsets for toddlers, this one by the Step2 Store is one of the coolest ones you’ll come across. It is a playhouse designed for toddlers that love to spend some time outside while their parents are just relaxing in the garden themselves. It comes with a set of saloon-type doors that grant the little ones access to the interior of the miniature kitchen.
It has an open-pavilion design that allows the children to have some fun in the sun, but there is also a market-style canopy that gives them a little bit of shade. The wind flaps are included to make sure the canopy is secure, and the fabric itself can be removed and washed whenever needed.
One very nice feature is the sand and water play area that gives children a nice space where they can have pretend cookouts. There are also a bunch of accessories included to make the entire play experience more complete.
Best of all? The small footprint. At only 48 inches along each of the four sides, it’s small enough to use indoors, in the yard, on a patio or deck, or even on a balcony. So whether this is going out back or in the playroom, there’s space!
If you have at least one toddler who needs a good excuse to spend more time outside, you should take a look at this playset designed exclusively for toddlers.
Best pop-up playset
When you’re short on dedicated space but want your kids to have a cool outdoor activity, you need the Hide N Side outdoor playset. This tunnel is super simple to install and it comes with easy locks that secure everything in place without too much effort on behalf of the parents. Whenever needed, the tunnel can collapse and you can fold it and store it out of sight. There are plenty of fun activities for kids to engage in with this specific playset, such as throwing balls at the hoop or playing target.
Not only is the set fun, but it can get your child’s muscles working as they will be doing a lot of back and forth crawling and ball throwing. It can be used indoors and outdoors, as long as you don’t place it on concrete or pavement. If you only have outdoor space and it’s not grassy, this can be set up on foam playmats for temporary use.
Best small-but-sturdy playset
The Backyard Discovery playhouse is the best outdoor wooden playset that money can buy. It is designed for children between the ages of 2 and 6 and comes with a variety of accessories that they can have fun playing with but also a solid construction that gives parents peace of mind knowing that the structure won’t just collapse with their little ones inside.
It is designed in such a way as to allow your children to play under the shade without being exposed to the harsh summer sun, but the windows will allow plenty of fresh air inside this little house. It comes with a variety of cool features that are designed to make the playhouse adorable and fun for children.
It comes with a stove, a play sink, a cordless phone, pots and pans to play with, but also flowerpot holders. There is also a side snack window and a doorbell. The panels are fairly easy to assemble, so parents won’t have to stress out too much over spending hours in putting this playhouse together.
And best of all, this little playhouse can be set up in a small yard or on a deck, and stay there for years to come.
Best playset for narrow lawns
There are plenty of things that we love about this Big Backyard KidKraft product and once we go through the features, you’ll definitely agree that this is one of the best outdoor playsets for older kids that you can currently get your hands on. It is suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 12, and it can offer a wonderful pastime for up to 7 kids at once.
It comes with two double-belt swings where children can experience one of the biggest joys that we ourselves experienced when we were little, which is swinging back and forth, and just enjoying time outside. It also has a high-rail wave slide, which is arguably the best kind of slide available.
The chalk wall is there for the creative kids: the ones that love to draw or maybe play some family drawing games. It also has a sandbox, but you will have to provide the sand for it yourself. The canopy that’s on top of the play deck ensures that your kids have a place to hide when the sun outside is too strong.
All of this and it’s only nine feet wide. That might seem huge compared to a patio space, but for a narrow suburban lawn, this is a full-playset experience in a small footprint, and the quality is such that it can be installed and last a decade or more with good maintenance.
Parents that want to invest in a playset that will last through a great portion of the little one’s childhood are going to love this Big Backyard KidKraft set. It’s also great for families who have multiple children or those who tend to host frequent play-overs.
Best swing set for small yards
Brought to you by Sportspower, this is one of the best swingsets for small yards that (a little) money can buy. Once assembled, this swingset will not occupy more than 52 x 55 x 47 inches of space, and it comes with all the hardware needed to put it together.
It is secure enough to give you peace of mind knowing that your little one will not fall out of the swing, and it’s lightweight and compact enough that it can be placed indoors, as well.
When you’re looking to invest money in an outdoor playset, consider the safety of your child first of all. Finding a good playset for your child is easy. Finding a safe and reliable option that meets your needs is a little more complicated, especially if your yard space is limited. We hope you’ve found this buying guide helpful. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see a specific product review or guide from us soon!