Before you know it, temperatures will be warming up and the kids will want to spend a lot more time outside. If you don't have a playground in
the backyard yet, now is the time to start thinking about getting one.
Numerous studies have found that playgrounds are essential not only for building a child's physical strength, but mental strength as
well. Playing on a backyard set helps children develop manipulative skills; improves their problem solving skills; and increases their
imagination and creativity.
"When they make the decision to buy a playground set, some people go shopping at a toy store or discount retailer or wind up
making an impulse purchase when they are already at the store for other reasons. What most of these consumers don't realize is that although
the initial purchase price may seem attractive, when they go that route they are usually sacrificing quality. The kids will loose interest
and stop playing on a playground that is basic no frills. If it's not customizable or designed to be added on to or upgraded over time, it
will become obsolete in no time," says Karl Jessen, owner of Detailed Play Systems, a New Jersey-based playground company that sells
kits parents can buy to put playground sets together themselves.
Jessen started the company in 1998 after realizing he had found a niche in the playground business that needed to be filled. "When
my boys were 4 and 1 1/2, I started looking into getting a play set for them, and the prices for quality sets were so high that I decided to
build one myself rather than skimp on the size, features, or strength of the playground to save money. At the time, no one was selling
do-it-yourself playground kits that met my standards, and that gave me the idea to start a business whose mission would be to help other
parents build quality playgrounds for their families that won't break the bank."
With input from his boys, Jessen put together a set of kits that include the detailed plans to build several playground configurations,
all of the most popular playground equipment components, the galvanized bolt and screw hardware, and the colorful marine-grade vinyl roof
tops. To keep costs down, rather than including the lumber -- which is expensive for manufacturers to ship in, cut to specific playground
dimensions, and ship back out -- he includes a lumber purchase guide with each kit to make purchasing the readily-available lumber easy for
Since customers purchase the lumber locally, they have direct control over the type of lumber used and the quality of each piece
selected. Only commonly found tools and basic carpentry skills are required to build a backyard playground using the plans. "Many parents
-- some having had no prior building experience at all -- have built their own backyard playground for a fraction of the cost thanks to the
detailed plans," says Jessen, who adds that today, Detailed Play Systems are set up in thousands of backyards across the country.
If you're thinking about building a playground set for your own child, Jessen recommends you start by sitting down with your son or
daughter and making a list of the features he or she wants. Some popular ones include spiral slides, sand boxes, monkey bars, and rock walls.
You can then use this list as a starting point to select the kits and accessories that you will need to build your family's playground.
Detailed Play Systems currently has two main kits available: The Jungle Fort Swing Set and Jungle Fort Tower kits. The Jungle Fort
Swing Set consists of a large 6 by 6 fort, a sandbox that goes under the fort, an inclined step ladder with full-length handrails, a
gangplank ramp/climber, an attached 3 or 4 position swing set, and 2 additional accessory beams for a total of up to 6 accessory positions.
An additional 7-foot high tower comes with the Jungle Fort Tower kit.
The Tower can be added to the Jungle Fort at any time and allows installation of the larger slides and rock walls to help keep the
playground fresh and exciting as the kids grow older. Additional kits to build optional monkey bars, rock wall, tire swing, and picnic table
are available to customize the playground set. The company also has a complete line of slide, swing, and playground accessory products to add
on to the kits or to existing play sets.
Tom Adams' 5-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, loves to swing, so he bought her one of the Jungle Fort Swing Sets. "My
son-in-law and I decided to build her a set ourselves because we could control the quality, and because we knew it would be fun to do,"
Tom cut the wood on his own, but the entire family got involved in putting the set together. "I'd describe parts I needed to
Elizabeth and she'd make a game out of finding them for me. Then she and her mom would sit back and watch as her dad and I put the thing
together. It was a great bonding experience for us as a family."
They finished the playground this past summer. "It was so neat watching Elizabeth show it off to her friends for the first
time," says Adams. "She really takes pride in ownership since it's something she helped build."
To learn more about the play sets offered by Detailed Play Systems, log on to www.detailedplay.com or call (800) 398-7565.