How To Hang A Swing From A Tree With No Branches

Long afternoon hours can be idled away on the back yard tree swing if you have one. Swinging in the yard can provide years of fun, but it’s essential to ensure the equipment is erected safely, so no harm comes to your child. Generally, backyard tree swings hang from a branch parallel to the ground. What if every tree in your yard is without branches, though? Well, you’ll just need a little added creativity and ingenuity. Here, you’ll learn how to hang a swing from a tree with no branches!

Choose Your Tree

Not everyone has the perfect swing tree in their backyard. If you don’t have one, create one. Select a healthy tree with a diameter of at least 12 inches. The larger the tree trunk, the better. Your child’s safety depends on your choice here. The tree needs to be old enough that it can sustain the current weight of your child and the weight they are likely to reach within several years. Oaks tend to be the number one choice. Maple, sycamore, and beech are also top picks. 

Adding A Limb To The Tree Without Branches

Your swing’s faux branch needs to be strong. Choose resistant material. A sturdy wood or metal board will work, but it will need to drill or nail into the chosen tree. It also has to adapt to alteration and be long and thick enough to support the weight — at least 6 feet long. 

Take your new branch to the swing tree and find the spot where you’ll attach it, about 8 to 10 feet off the ground. This spot will be where the other branches begin to separate from the tree’s trunk. Drill a hole in the center of your new limb, about 16 inches in from the end that is not going to support the swing. 

Ask a helper to hold the plank horizontally up to the height marker, and center the pre-drilled hole on the trunk. Drill through this hole and into the trunk at least 4 inches, then screw in a bolt until the board is snug, yet moveable. The part of the branch hanging outside the tree has to be between three and six feet long and parallel to the ground. Too long and it will damage the stability of the branch and create hazards for later swinging. 

Level the plank, parallel to the ground, and drill in two holes 3 to 5 inches to the upper right and upper left of the center hole, forming an upside-down triangle. Make sure the trunk is thick behind the new holes. Drill into the tree and install two more bolts. Tighten all three bolts until the plank is stiff. The plank should hang off one side of the tree about 6 to 12 inches, with the remainder sticking out from the other side. 

Hang A Swing From The New Branch

Your branch looks sturdy. Now it’s time to hang the swing using a kit or your own creation. A purchased swing kit comes with a swing board, chains or ropes, and hooks. 

To hang a swing using a kit requires you to hook it up to the support beam and make sure it isn’t too high or too low. The best way to check is to have your child sit on the swing. They should be able to touch the ground with the top of their feet while seated. You might need to drill holes to fix the swing to the tree. The only rule is the holes you drill have to be at least 21 inches from each other. The chain or rope attaching the swing board to the branch has to be very sturdy. Attach your string kit to the long end of the artificial branch. Keep the swing 3 feet away from the tree trunk for safety. 

Hang A Swing From A Tree With An Angled Limb

Angled branches can support a swing if you know how to hang it. Locate a healthy branch at least 8 inches in diameter. Measure the width of your swing. Find two points on the angled branch where you want to hang the swing, add 4 inches to the overall width between those points. Take a long bit and drill a hole vertically through the limb at each location. Take a level and place one end under the branch at the lowest hole. Stretch it level until it’s underneath the higher hole on the angled branch. Measure the space between the top of the level and the bottom of the second hole. This offset allows you to fix the swing, so both ropes bend at the same point.

Cut a piece of 1inch PVC pipe. It needs to be the diameter of the branch plus 1 inch, plus the length of the offset between the holes. Drill across the top of the pipe, half-inch down with a 3/8 inch bit. Find a long nut and bolt that fits across these holes and fastens securely. Drill out the higher hole in the branch with a 1inch bit. Place the pipe, with the small holes on top, under this hole, and push it through the branch. Stop once the small holes come through the top of the branch. Place the long eyebolt in through the lowest hole and secure with large washers and a nut on the top. Tighten. 

Feed one rope up through the PVC pipe inside the branch. Tie a large knot in the rope above the pipe. Before taking the slack in the line, secure the long bolt and nut across the top of the tube. The bolt keeps the pipe from slipping out of the tree and holds the rope knot in place. Tie the other rope to the eyebolt, level up the bottoms, and tie on the swing. Now, the fulcrum point at the top is even on both sides, and the swing should function flawlessly. 

Hang A Swing Between Two Trees

Hang a swing between two different trees. It’s easier to achieve than adding an artificial arm. The concept remains the same, but this option provides a lot more stability. Choose two resistant trees and decide on a resistant material for your artificial limb. Affix the artificial limb to both trees, providing greater stability on both sides. 

Locate a pair of trees between 8 and 12 feet apart, but not more than 16 feet. Place a mark on each tree where you want your cross beam to sit. Hold the plank between the two trunks and mark four drill holes in a square pattern on each side where you know they will bite into the thickest part of the trunk. Drill out the markings on the plank. 

Level the plank parallel to the ground between the trees, and starting with one hole on each side, drill through the hole into the trunk at least 4 inches and screw in a bolt. Repeat for the remaining six bolts. Attach the swing to the center of the crossbeam, using straps, eyebolts, or other hardware rated to hold a minimum of 1000 pounds. 

When Can Your Child Use A Swing?

There are different swings for different ages, so those as young as one start with a baby swing. Always start by pushing them on the swing to give them time to get comfortable with the sensation. Assist children on a swing until they reach 3 or 4 years of age or old enough to control the swing correctly. Where better to practice the art of flying than to swing from a tree? 

Safety Considerations

Putting up a swing for the tree is a serious business, especially if you don’t want your child to be hurt while playing. Make sure to give serious consideration to the following essential safety tips.

Artificial Bough

  • Check the rope and the artificial bough constantly to make sure your work remains as safe as you intended it to be. Tighten nuts and ensure rope knots are secure and that there are no cracks in the wood. 
  • Inspect any connecting swing hardware for rust or wear and replace it as needed.
  • Replace the rope you use to hang your swing at least every two years. 
  • Check the rope, swing, and artificial branch are adequate for maximum weight. 
  • Don’t overload the artificial bough by letting adults or several children swing at once. Without heavy-duty planks or even metal, this type of swing support could fail under excessive weight.
  • Supervise young children when they swing, even if the swing is safe. 
  • Make sure to choose a good, strong rope. It needs to be strong enough not to fall apart when you’re attaching to the swing to the tree branch. 
  • Have your child test the swing before you finish. If your swing is too high or too low, it can increase the risk of falling. If it’s too low, it may not be comfortable to use. 

Between two trees

  • Choose two trees within recommended spacing. Too close and you risk cutting the trees during swing time and too far apart, the cross beam can sag. 
  • The thicker the crossbeam, the more weight it can support. Consider laminating two planks together before installing swings for older children. 

From angled bough

  • Use only marine grade UV-protected rope or braided polypropylene synthetic rope with high weight ratings.

Pros

From a tree without branches:

  • An inexpensive and quick way to place swings exactly where you want them.
  • Should cause no harm to the tree.
  • Blends into the tree for a more natural appearance. 
  • Removable.

Between two trees:

  • Able to support more weight.
  • Very stable.
  • Easy to install.

From an angled bough:

  • Swings hang level and won’t twist.
  • Works with otherwise hard-to-use branches.
  • No additional lumber needed.

Cons

From a tree without branches:

  • It requires two people to construct.

Between two trees:

  • You need to have trees close to each other.
  • The beam can be an eyesore.

From an angled branch: 

  • It takes a bit more effort to measure/install.

Final Thoughts

Though hanging a swing from a tree with no branches may seem like a difficult task at first, with a little creativity and hardware, you’ll get the job done in no time!