Written by Terry Smith
Our site is reader supported so when you click a link to Amazon we may earn an affiliate commission.
UK’s best garden swing sets for kids and babies with heavy duty options
This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 6:19 am
When I first wrote this article a couple of years ago, I mentioned “with the lure of iPads and Netflix, it’s getting harder and harder to get young kids to play outside these days”. Well add Disney channel to that! I decided after playing with the kids swing, it was time to write about garden swing seats and garden swings for adults, and this jolted my memory here for kids and babies 🙂 And to be fair, our swing set at home has nothing on the park, but hoping the new one stands up better!
It really has last so well:
Half the battle is getting the kids engaged in the garden! But the outdoor team are fighting back I am pleased to say! You’ve now got very affordable playhouses, sand pits, trampolines, football nets, basketball hoops, badminton sets, and you can now add the best garden swing sets for kids to that list thanks to this hands on test review as a father of three hyper kids 🙂 You can see them tearing around on their go kart or whacking flies and mosquitos with a fly zapper for me if you follow those links 🙂 My kids pretty much mean everything to me, so you’ll probably understand why I think it’s important to get kids outside in the garden, but please read my section on what you should know before buying a garden swing set as there’s some golden tips as a father that plays with the kids on swings 🙂 If you want a quick rundown, this is what I found with regards to the best swings for kids:
Best garden swing sets – dad’s picks after testing:
Best overall garden swing set: Hedstrom double swing and glider – personally tested and proven reliability for two years now and still useable.
Best swing set for babies: I’d recommend the Hedstrom but I adapted mine so I’d recommend the Hedstrom Folding Toddler Swing or the hlc Blue Toddler Folding Swing if you want the best and safest for your little one.
Heavy duty swing sets for kids: Plum Gibbon Wooden Garden Double Swing, Climbing Rope & Ladder Set
Best double swing set: Plum Gibbon Wooden Garden Double Swing
Value pick: Hedstrom double swing and glider – absolute bargain given how long it’s lasted me and we’ve really used and tested it to the maximum! Personally tested and proven!
Cool alternative gravity swing: ZERO GRAVITY UFO Kids Birds Nest Swing Set
Worth considering for different requirements: Garden Games Children’s Plastic Swing Seat
What you should know before buying a garden swing set for your kids and babies
There’s surprisingly so much going on with a garden swing in terms or safety, value for money, build quality, age ratings (are they correct for your child), ease of assembly, size, and the list goes on that I’ve put together a few important considerations before you take the leap and buy your child the wrong garden swing! Here’s a look at my kids down the park:
With everything being online it’s an absolute godsend to just have this all delivered, until you realise you’ve bought wrong and are charged for returns! So let’s get it right off the bat by understanding some of these basics:
How and why it’s important to get kids outside in the first
I understand that for some parents, their child happily watching cartoons for hours doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem (I certainly let them in reasonable doses), I’ve always personally felt that playing outside is an important part of a child’s development – I’ve taught my kids a lot through the garden. Not only that, but it is vital to both their mental and physical health, building confidence, coordination, and more. The question is: how do I get my child to enjoy spending hours playing outside?
Well, I would say you go old school and install either a kid slide, climbing frames, or even just a good garden swing set. There are so many options available to parents these days when it comes to garden swing, many of them for very affordable prices, so don’t you think you should consider it? You can just as easily take them down the park if you feel they are not in budget too:
Just remember all the fun you used to have playing on the swings in the park with your parents, siblings, and friends. Wouldn’t it be great for your children to have similar memories when they grow up? Pushing your child on their very own swing is a unique bonding experience that both of you get so much out of. Your child will be thrilled with their new toy, and you will be smiling from ear to ear as you hear your son or daughter laughing and having a great time.
Prime concern for all of us is safety. Don’t worry – all of the swings on this review are extremely strong and robust but the biggest problem is if you exceed the weight rating and the kids are really fired up, they can begin to pull the corners of the swings up. The strongest from testing and safety from this perspective for bigger kids is the Plum Gibbon Wooden Garden Double Swing. No question about that.
But what about babies? How do you hold them into a swing seat safely? The answer for me over the years has been the Hedstrom Folding Toddler Swing. The seat really does grab a little one nicely. Just make sure you don’t leave them unattended as a swing can lull you into a false sense of security – especially if you have a rather young child!
Build quality – wood or metal frame
So I love a quality wooden frame but it comes at a price – firstly after a few years it’ll start looking tired – at a minimum you’ll want to oil it again to keep it looking shiny and nice – that’s why we opted for the cheaper Hedstrom made of metal and obviously susceptible to rust but at the same time.
Obviously the heavier wooden frames are stronger, so when you pay more, it’s not just a gimmick, you are getting a better quality swing. The conundrum is the quality and maintenance vs a relatively simply metal frame that barely wants a clean every season.
Wooden frames tend to sit harder into the ground and be more stable – you can’t knock good old wood!
In this article we have reviewed the best garden swings for you, so why don’t we dive right in, so you can start thinking about which one you will choose for your own children.
So when I first reviewed this, despite owning and testing it I couldn’t put it top. Mainly because there seemed like better options out there, but for value I have to say this has lasted us so well that it now deserves it’s pick as top swing. Here’s a look at the fun this swing has brought us:
If you look at the pictures you’ll see we removed one of the kids swings and added our own baby swing in it’s place:
After a while we realised this was going to hold up and bodged the 4th swing back on – I highly recommend not doing that unless you accept you will void the warranty – from my personal perspective we’ve had two 10 year olds, one 8 year old, one 6 year old, and two 4 year olds on this all at the same time – frequently and it’s still going strong. This will go all the way through Summer again no problem as far as I can tell.
If you’ve got a bigger family, then you’re more than likely going to need a bigger garden swing for them to play on or you’ll be breaking up fights all day. Trust me, I grew up with four brothers and we spent just as much time arguing as playing. This can be avoided though with a garden swing that has enough features to keep everyone happy, and that’s what you get with the Hedstrom Neptune model. Our kids (we have three and then when the cousins come over, two more) all get on this at the same time. The one drawback is they have to go steady as if the bigger girls starting swinging too hard then one of the corners begins to lift! Other than that, this has provided hours of fun, sometimes they just sit there.
The Neptune can accommodate 4 children playing at once thanks to a set up that features two single seater swings, and a ‘glider’ or ‘see-saw swing’ as it is sometimes known – five for us now we’ve adapted it! If you like the seesaw, maybe take a look at my link – that expands on this range considerably.
These see-saw style swings are so much fun! We tested this with our cousins and they just couldn’t get enough of it, literally smiling from ear to ear:
I liked the fact that this component featured foot rests, which not only gave the kids somewhere to rest their feet so they weren’t dangling down, they also helped to create momentum.
The seats for all the swings are made from thick, blow-moulded plastic, and are extremely strong and durable. The single seat swings feature soft touch, nylon ropes that can be adjusted to suit your child’s age, which is a feature I really liked, and of course, increases the working life of the product.
For such a low price, you have to forgive a couple of niggles. One was the fact that all the screws for assembling the swing came together in one bag. Why did this matter? Well, because there are screws of different sizes, so I had to spend time sorting them out into separate bags and it was something that I found annoying, and unnecessary.
The second thing is that there is some movement in the frame when kids swing quite high, even with the frame properly anchored down. It’s not enough to scare me or anything, but I would definitely tell my kids to take it easy, and make sure that you set it in cement.
Still, for such a competitive price, you have to expect a few things like this, and if the idea bothers you, you can always shell out a bit more for a higher quality product.
2. Plum Gibbon Wooden Garden Double Swing, Climbing Rope & Ladder Set
If you’ve got a little over two hundred quid to spare, and enough space in your garden, then I recommend this Gibbon double swing and climbing set from makers Plum – it is easily the best heavy duty swing set. It’s vastly higher quality than the Hedstrom I bought when compared directly for quality (I also prefer the natural look), here’s a look at how well one holds up even a few years later:
It features an FSC certified timber frame that is not only very strong and stable once anchored down properly, but it also looks great in any garden. The natural look of wood will not clash with any garden furniture or garden design like some multicoloured garden swings can.
The timber is pre-treated too, and this will help to prevent rot, insect, and other weather-based damage. This is essential in the UK, especially if you live in the north or coastal areas where wind and rain will try their best to put that treatment to the test. This garden swing wasn’t that difficult to put together, but you will need help from a friend of mine. The metal connectors that hold the timber poles in place do their job well without any need for drilling, and the same can be said for the metal rings that support the swings themselves.
With two heavy duty blow moulded plastic seats, your kids won’t have to argue about who plays first, and there are two other features, as well as the seats, to play with too. One is a rope ladder with wooden rungs, while the other is a climbing rope. All of the ropes used in this set are designed to be ‘soft feel’ and are not abrasive in any way, allowing your child to climb and swing safely.
What I really like about this particular set, apart from the quality of the materials, is that kids of all ages can use it, and it’s something that you will get years and years of use out of. When they’re very young, you can push them gently on the swing. As they get older, they can enjoy climbing the ropes and ladder. So, even though it is more expensive than some other sets, it might end up being better value for money overall. If not for the fact this was far more expensive at the time, I would have been much happier with this if I had the budget!
Just looking for a small swing to push your baby in as they giggle away, this could be the right choice for you. While Hedstrom says this is a toddler’s swing, I think, because of its compact nature that it is better suited to children aged from 6 months to about one and a half years old. I know my daughter sat more comfortably in this for a long while, up until about 2 years old when compared to other models – I also felt good about it because the chair is extremely safe and no worries of a toddler falling easily:
For safety, the seat features a lap strap to hold your baby in the seat, and also fabric on the front and sides to enclose the child in the swing with no chance of falling out.
For kids in that age group though, this is an excellent garden swing. The frame is powder coated alloy steel that feels robust and not at all flimsy like some similarly priced products can be. Likewise, the easy to clean fabric seat also inspires confidence in its durability. Not only that, but the seat is very comfortable and has back support, so your young child can play in comfort for long periods of time.
Once assembled, this garden swing will stand 119cm tall, 96cm wide, and 146cm deep. In real terms what you’ll notice is just how small this unit is compared to the other picks in this review – it really is small. Assembly is very easy, and this product has been designed to be easy to pack away too. You just remove a couple of screws and then it will fold up, allowing you to store it away somewhere without the need for a huge amount of space.
Like anything, this compact size has its pros and cons. While it means that it is only really suitable for very young children and toddlers, it also has the advantage of being easy to move around, and you can even set it up indoors in the winter time if you like.
Priced at just over thirty five pounds, I think the quality of this garden swing speaks for itself, and is definitely worth some consideration if you have an infant or small toddler.
4. ZERO GRAVITY UFO Kids Birds Nest Swing Set
With its extra-large UFO shaped seat, it’s not hard for your kids to make believe they are flying through space on their very own sci-fi adventure.
And they won’t have to go on that adventure alone. The swing and seat is easily big and strong enough to support two children playing at once, and even took the weight of my brother swinging in it, and he’s 38 years old and weighs 80kg! Take a look at how sturdy it is:
The seat is padded, very comfortable, and is held onto the frame by strong metal chains which are encased in plastic covers for both safety, and to ensure longevity as they are protected from rust.
With two kids swinging at the same time, you need a swing and frame that is very sturdy, and with the Zero Gravity UFO swing, that’s exactly what you get. This product is incredibly strong and stable once assembled, and a large part of that is thanks to the makers’ decision to make the frame from 50mm metal tubing rather than the more commonly seen 38mm.
One thing that I noticed straight away, as soon as I unboxed the components, was that the powder coating on the frame was done to a high standard. Sometimes, with products like these, there is some cost cutting done and often it is the powder coating that is where the cuts are done. This can lead to paint peeling off easily and then you get problems with rust.
This isn’t going to be a problem with the Zero gravity UFO garden swing though. The quality of the coating is excellent and leaves me no doubts about its ability to protect the inner frame from the elements.
Assembly of the swing was easy enough, the instructions were simple and clear, and once set up, the product stood at 184cm x 196cm x 184cm, so pretty average in size and doesn’t take up too much space, despite the swing seat itself being larger than usual.
This is an excellent product, and well worth the sub-100 pound asking price. The build quality of everything is as it should be: excellent.
5. hlc Blue Folding Swing
The hlc folding swing is a great option for infants and young toddlers, and can be bought for just over forty-five pounds on Amazon at the moment.
The main feature of this swing, or at least the one that struck me anyway, was the swing seat itself. You can tell it has been designed with very young children in mind and they have done a good job of it too.
The seat has a teddy bear shaped backrest for an aesthetic that little kids will love, and it has also been made to be very safe, with a harness to hold the child in place and prevent them slipping around. The straps of the harness might be a bit big for kids under 6 months, but they’re adjustable and will still do their job as your child grows.
Soft ropes hold the swing seat from the frame, and these are easily adjustable, so you can get the height that you want. The frame is powder coated steel, like many similar products, and I have to say, the paint coating has been done well for the price. The frame is sturdy enough if you anchor it down, thanks to cross bars for extra support, but I wouldn’t recommend leaving it free standing, just as I wouldn’t with nearly any garden swing.
Assembling the hlc folding swing wasn’t too difficult, but I did have to call the wife over for a bit of help to get the legs done. Once it was up, the dimensions were 120cm high, and 148cm for the width and depth, giving it a square base shape.
I would say the overall build quality of this garden swing is good, but some of the parts, such as where the swing ropes thread through, are made of plastic when they could have been made of metal to make it more durable. Don’t get me wrong, the plastic used is thick and feels substantial, I just feel that components like this are better made of metal.
All in all, this is a good product for people with infants and toddlers that’s available at an affordable price. The swing seat is comfortable and secure, and it folds away neatly for convenient storage. What more could you want?
6. Garden Games Children's Plastic Swing Seat
Already got a frame in your garden? Do you intend to build your own? Or do you just have a perfectly strong tree branch to hang a swing from?
If you answer yes to any of these, then buying Garden Games’ plastic swing seat is all you need, and could save you a few quid too.
In the box you will find a blow moulded, HDPE seat, ropes, and rigs and adjusters. You just need to find a spot to hang the swing and you’re good to go. Setting up is extremely straightforward and easy, and can be done in no time with a ladder and help from a friend or family member.
The seat is a good size: 42 x 17 x 8.5cm, and is made from high quality, and extremely durable plastic. It is available in three different colours (green, light green ,and red) has a ridged surface to prevent the child slipping, and is slightly curved surface with small raised sides for both comfort and safe playing time.
You don’t have to worry about metal chains becoming rusty with this garden swing set either, Garden Games have chosen to use ropes instead. These weatherproof ropes have a nice, soft, feel to them but don’t make the mistake of thinking they lack strength, these ropes can handle up to 200kg of strain, which equates to about a 70 kg person actually swinging. That’s impressive for a product that only costs 13.99 on Amazon at the time of writing.
To help with the overall strength and durability, the ropes have thick polypropylene welds, and the rings and adjusters are made from galvanised steel, which will prevent them rusting for years as long as you don’t chip off the galvanised coating. Using the adjusters, you can change the seat height level to anywhere between 1.2 and 1.8 metres.
This swing is excellent value for money, with many customers reporting that they get years of use out of it before it starts wearing down. When you consider the price point, it makes buying this budget garden swing a very enticing proposition.
Well, that’s all from us for today, but we are confident that the selection of kid’s garden swings we have featured on this page offers something for everyone, no matter the age of their children, available space, or their budget.
Please make sure you anchor down any garden swing, no matter how stable they may seem. It doesn’t necessarily have to be settled in concrete, but it is always best to have some extra weight of some kind holding the frame down.
Goodbye from all of us here at Garden Toolbox. Until next time.