While on vacation recently, my family and I enjoyed house swapping with friends in Cleveland. They live on the lake and have outfitted their backyard for relaxation and entertainment. Both their grill and fire pit operate on natural gas and can be turned on with just the push of a button for easy, impromptu get-togethers.

For quieter days and evenings, we could sit outside and take in our natural surroundings. Across the lake lies a bird sanctuary, and the homeowners attract birds to their yard by strategically placing bird feeders throughout. They have ample seating to unwind and do some bird watching. You can sit around an outdoor table, a bench across from that or a porch swing on the side. The swing quickly took its place as our favorite spot to relax. If you are thinking of installing one in your own space, consider these things first:



Depending on your budget and your building skills, you may choose to build your own swing from scratch or purchase one premade. Building your own can be relatively simple, and there are tons of free plans for doing so online. This can cost as little as $30 but may take some time to carry out. Enlist the help of a friend, if you can. If you decide to go with a prefabricated swing, the cost ranges anywhere from $150 to $1,000. Keep in mind that although you do not have to build it yourself, you may still need to do the installation.

Location, location, location

Before you decide on a swing, you must decide where it will go. Look online first for the style that you want, and jot down the dimensions. Then, scout the location and ensure it has ample space, not just for the swing but also for room all around. You will need approximately 4 feet of space for swinging back and forth and also for passersby to walk. If you will be installing it directly into your ceiling, keep in mind that to do so safely you must install it directly into a structural beam.


When purchasing your swing, look at weight limits and dimensions. Most swings are about 4 to 5 feet long and can hold approximately 550 pounds. The depth of the seat is often what varies. Test out some swings in person to find a size that suits you best before you decide to proceed.


Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefi xisinhawaii@gmail.com.