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4 tips for buying a swing set

Jonathan slides on his cousin's swing set over

Jonathan slides on his cousin's swing set over Memorial Day weekend. (May 27, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Shameka Dudley

For the past two months I have been trying to find the perfect swing set for my 2-year-old son. I’ve been searching the sites of various retailers including Toys R Us, Walmart and Lowe's. With so many options, I thought I'd share this checklist of things to think about before buying a swing set.

Set your price: We set a budget of $600, although we were so tempted to buy one of those mammoth $1,500 sets, but we were just living out our childhood fantasies through Jonathan, who of course is still happy playing with an empty box.

Fit your space: Finding a set to fit in our backyard wasn’t difficult because we have a pretty nice space, but we wanted to make sure we could fit some adult entertainment in the yard, too.

Choose a style: We immediately ruled out metal, we wanted something a little more fancy. The plastic, many of which were as pricey as the wooden sets, were small and I felt Jonathan would outgrow those sets quickly. The vinyl sets were lovely but way out of our price range. So we settled on a cedar set.

Find a retailer: We purchased our set from Walmart and here’s why: We found a beautiful set, complete with monkey bars, slide, glider, clubhouse with windows, covered play deck and snack/activity bench that was originally $550, but with a “rollback” by the store, was discounted to $500. Walmart offers free site-to-store shipping, so we saved $300 there. Also, the set scored an average of 4 out of 5 stars from more than 200 reviewers. And it seemed to be comparable to the more expensive sets we saw at other retailers.

The set is large enough to accommodate my niece and nephews but also small enough that it won’t eat up the entire backyard.

Picture: Jonathan slides down his cousins' swing set over Memorial Day weekend.

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