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Hanging swing from tree!

davidmeiland's picture

I'm sure at least one person will feel compelled to warn me off of this, but maybe a few others will contribute good ideas. Let's find out.

Project is to hang a swing from a tree branch. Tree in question is a very large locust and the branch is splendidly stout and about 10 feet off the ground. The swing is from a playground equipment company and has two pieces of 3/8" chain already attached, about 8 feet long each. They are almost the perfect length, although I will probably cut a few links off each one to get the height I want.

My challenge is to find a good way to attach to the limb. Left to my own I'd probably drill some vertical holes and use eye bolts, but DW says so drilling and no fasteners. AND, no abrading the tree. So, I need a way to wrap *something* around the branch that allows me to connect the chain below (actually, two chains, two locations about 4 feet apart).

My instinct is that some heavy nylon webbing from the sail shop would be the right thing. Steel cable is a possibility but would be hard on the tree. Rope seems crude but this is a boatbuilding town and there's rope for sale here.

Obviously, this has to support a swing. It is such that I can hop up and inspect the works easily and frequently.

Ideas appreciated.

(post #104301, reply #1 of 11)

"No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it's only a question of degree." - W.C. Fields

(post #104301, reply #2 of 11)

You can buy short tiedown straps made of webbing that are used for hauling cars on trailers - they wrap around the car axle and have loops on each end.  I'd think you could wrap them around the tree branch and hook the swing chains to them.  Here are some from Northern Tool that are rated for 10,000 lbs each, for less than $9/pair:

S-Line Axle Strap — 10,000-Lb. Capacity, 21in., Blue | Buy now for just $8.09! search for 'axle straps'.  If these aren't long enough they sell a variety of other tiedowns.

Edited 7/3/2007 7:07 pm by Stuart

(post #104301, reply #3 of 11)

Is this for your own home?

I have a swing for my kids that I hung from a tree with dynamic climbing rope.  I did not want to damage the tree with bolts or steel cables so I tied a clove hitch around the limb.  This not will not slip around the tree limb (so it will not abrade the rope or damage the tree).  If I was you I would remove the chains and use climbing line with a clove hitch at the top and a figure eight at the swing. 


Incidentally I would not do this for a customer (liability).

Climbing rope is available from better outdoor shops like REI.  They can probably also help you with the knotcraft.  Or you can find a boyscout!

Edit:  It is not a good idea to let any type of webbing or rope slide around a tree limb with the motion of the swing.  It is amazing how fast friction can eat through those products.




Edited 7/3/2007 7:09 pm ET by MJonesCo

(post #104301, reply #8 of 11)

I disagree with your approach on the advice of my arborist.

Installing a a pair of eye-bolts will not cause the tree to lose at least 50% of its water carrying capacity in that branch the way that wrapping a rope will. The skin is what carries the juices, which is why you can kill most trees simply by stripping the bark around the trunk circumference.

Don't get me started on the local electric utility that killed a magnificent 50' cherry tree by wrapping their telephone pole guy wire around the tree.

Edited 7/3/2007 8:45 pm ET by Constantin

(post #104301, reply #4 of 11)

Some may disagree but I believe you'll do the least damage to the tree with your original idea, namely, vertical holes through the branch and eyebolts . . . providing the holes are not huge relative to the diameter of the branch. 

Any time you wrap something around a living branch or trunk the pressure stresses the circulatory system of the part of the tree distal to the constriction and may lead to death of that portion of the tree.

I ran this by a friend of mine who is a licensed tree surgeon/arborist and that was his suggestion as well.

(post #104301, reply #5 of 11)

It's my house... my kid...

Put in a call to our local arborist also. If he OK's the metal drilled thru then of course that's what it'll be.

(post #104301, reply #6 of 11)

I'm with Fingers. Every tree guy I've ever talked to recommends through bolting over any wrap. Check the tree house construction guides, they have very sophisticated through bolts with stand offs etc.

Wrapping gives more possibility for disease. Iff Da Wife needs a second opinion have her call a licensed arborist.


"You cannot work hard enough to make up for a sloppy estimate."


"You cannot work hard enough to make up for a sloppy estimate."

(post #104301, reply #7 of 11)

Drilling and bolting would actually be the least damaging. Wrap anything around the tree and you will effect the cambium layer just below the bark. This can do bad stuff to the tree.

Think of drilling as creating an impact like a woodpecker...except that you fill the holes you make with a bolt, which is a good thing.

Edit to add: I was once a licensed arborist and a forest ecologist in a former life. :o)

Edited 7/3/2007 7:55 pm ET by basswood

(post #104301, reply #9 of 11)

Back in the dark ages, my father would cut lengths of garden hose and thread chain through the hose. The hose prevented the chain from damaging the limb. The hose needs to be replaced every few years, so use something like a snap link to tie the chain back into itself after you wrap it over the branch.

George Patterson
George Patterson

(post #104301, reply #10 of 11)

I through-bolted ours, no issues. My Ministry of Forests cousin said this would do the least harm to the tree. If you ever remove the bolts be sure to seal up with pruning tar.


Always remember those first immortal words that Adam said to Eve, “You’d better stand back, I don’t know how big this thing’s going to get.”

(post #104301, reply #11 of 11)

If you don't bolt, place a spreader between the straps or whatever, to keep them properly spaced apart.

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do. --Benjamin Franklin

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville