How to Level Yard for Playset in 4 Easy Methods

Are your kids nagging you to get a playset, but you just don’t know how you’ll fit it in your yard? Even if one was to fit in there, how would you go about installing it if your ground is up and down like a rollercoaster? Lucky for you, that’s what this article is about.

I will help you learn how to level yard for playset, so that you can do it on your own.

The fact is, 99% of kids love playsets. Whether it’s a set of swings, a cubby house, a fort, a climbing wall or everything in one set. The sense of creativity and adventure a child receives from a playset is priceless.

How to Level Yard for Playset in 4 Easy Methods
How to Level Yard for Playset in 4 Easy Methods

My own kids are out there for hours amusing themselves. If you have a yard that is way too uneven to install a playset, then you can always level it.

Also known as ‘flattening’, the required area to easily install the playset on an even base with no hindrances. This type of work can be done in a few different ways. It all depends on your skills, time and, of course, budget (if you’re looking to hire some help).

Do You Need Your Playset to Be Leveled?

When installing a playset, you should level the ground upon which it will be set. It’s easy to be lazy or even calm and not do it, and the problem is that multiple things are either dangerous or could cause you various other issues by choosing not to.

Do You Need Your Playset to Be Leveled?
Do You Need Your Playset to Be Leveled?

Let’s look at why you should go ahead and flatten the designated area where you want to set up your playset. 


Safety is always a top priority, no matter what. You’re talking about your kids’ safety and any other kids that may be under your supervision. One of the biggest risks with an unlevel playset area is that the equipment could tip. If your kids are anything like mine, they will try to test how hard they can swing.

They will try to do flips and jumps from heights onto trampolines. They will also try to climb up to areas they probably really shouldn’t. If any of the equipment they are using is pushed to its limits by these types of actions, the risk of tipping is high. They are kids, though; they live for this stuff!

Easy Installation

The more level your area you are building on, the simpler the task becomes. As someone who has been in the construction industry for over 20 years, it’s a well-known fact that you should always keep your worksite even and clean.

When installing any support beams, they will need to be as straight as possible, and this will ensure that the rest of the parts are in line to function as they are designed to. 


More often than not, the warranty of your playset will state that it should be constructed on level ground. They have this in there because if they need to assess a returned item, they need to determine if it was used in the manner that it was intended. If it wasn’t, then the warranty can be deemed void.


Playsets are almost always designed to be constructed on a level base. Suppose they are built on a slope or uneven area. In that case, the joints, hardware, and base structure supports will be put under unwanted stress, decreasing their durability and increasing the chances of wear and tear occurring. 

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How to level yard for playset (4 Methods)

The process of how to level yard for playset will require careful consideration when planning. There are a few different ways that you could approach the procedure. These methods will all depend on the existing landscape characteristics that you wish to set upon.

For example, the soil could contain lots of rock, big and/or small and may need to be moved. The area could be muddy or weedy and crave a complete overhaul before the leveling process begins.

Furthermore, you may have a space that includes a steep slant, and a retaining wall could be required. No matter what, most yards aren’t 100% flat as that would cause issues with drainage.

The water wouldn’t have anywhere to go and would pool, which can cause major headaches. More often than not, houses are designed and built in a way that water will run away from the house. 

Method 1: Redistributing the soil

If you’re lucky enough, your desired area for the playset could just need soil moved from one place to another. This task can be done manually using basic hand tools, including a shovel, rake, leveler, etc.

On the other hand, you may have access to machineries like a smaller excavator or a wheel loader that can take away the blood, sweat, tears and time.

The downside to the latter would be the costs involved unless you have some contacts that can help. Not everyone has the luxury of hired help so let’s look at how it can be done by hand. The process is similar regardless of which way it is completed.  

What you will need

  • Measuring Tape.
  • Marking spray paint (optional).
  • A couple of rocks, big enough that you can use them as a visual guide for marking out (If you don’t have access to paint).
  • 4 Pegs (marking sticks/stakes – also optional).
  • Spirit level.
  • Hammer/Small Sledgehammer.
  • Laser level (optional).
  • Measuring tape.
  • Bricklayers line/string or thin rope.
  • Shovel.
  • Rake/leveling tool.

Marking out the shape

  1. Make sure that you have a rough idea of the size of the area that you want to level before you begin. (3m X 3m, 5m X 5m, etc.) Check with the playsets manufacturer’s recommendation. Add an extra meter on each of the sides if possible.
  2. A playset is generally a rectangle or square in shape. If that’s the case, try to find something like a house, shed, or garage. Etc to use as a measuring start point. 
  3. Measure the desired distance from the dwelling outwards Eg: 3m. If the dwelling is straight and you want your playset to run parallel, you can take another point off the dwelling a few meters apart from the first one. This will help you to mark out your playset areas first straight line. You will use this as a baseline. So again, measure Eg: 3m
  4. Use some marking paint or a couple of rocks and mark out those 3m points.
  5. You can use a piece of rope or string and hold it over the 2 measured points. This will help you achieve a straight line. Mark out the line using some marking spray paint. 
  6. Next, it’s time to measure the parallel line opposite. So measure your desired distance from the first line outwards Eg: 3m. Do the same as before; measure another spot a few meters apart at the same distance Eg: 3m. Again, spray out a couple of dots or place another couple of rocks on those spots. Hold the rope/string again over those 2 marked points and spray a line.
  7. By this stage, you should have 2 straight lines running parallel to each other 3m apart.
  8. Next, choose a spot where you want to close the square/rectangle shape by creating the 2 other sidelines.
  9. Measure out your desired distance Eg: 3m. Mark out with spray or rock. Do the same thing on the other line, and you should have a completed square/rectangle marked out.

What you will need

Use some pegs (marking sticks) by knocking them into the ground with a hammer, one on each directional change. (Each corner of the square/rectangle) These pegs are now used as your solid guides.

Working out the height/finished soil level

  1. If you want to do a professional job, it’s ideal to have some kind of tool that can give you a height like a laser. You can choose a desired finish soil height and use the laser to shoot the same level onto the 4 corner pegs. Mark out the height on each peg. If you don’t have a laser, you can estimate the height on one of the pegs and use a spirit level in the next step to project the height onto the other 3 pegs.
  2. If you used a laser, set up your bricklayers’ string line on the marked out levels around each peg. You can do this by wrapping the line around the first marked out point, then going to the second point and wrapping it around. Continue around each peg until you have formed the shape using the line. Make sure that the line is tight so there is tension. A sagging line will give a poor reading. 
  3. If you didn’t use a laser, you might need someone to hold the string line while you hold the spirit level simultaneously. Once the spirit level shows, the line is the same height at the next peg, mark it out and wrap it around and continue to the rest of the pegs. This is a slower process but just as accurate.
  4. Use a measuring tape to measure down from the string line to your desired finished soil height. If you choose 10cm, for example, below the line, then use that 10cm the whole way around the edge.

Digging, shaping and raking to finish

  1. This is where the elbow grease comes into play. Use a shovel to dig out your required depth around the edge (under the string line). This will give you your initial shape. You may not just need to dig; you may also need to add soil to the area. Transfer any high spots to low spots keeping the desired 10cm height.
  2. Once you have completed the edge, start with the inside. Make sure you have somewhere to put the soil if there is too much. Use a rake to level out the finer soil once the bulk has been moved around. 

That’s pretty much the whole process. It seems like many steps, but it all depends on how professional you want to be and what tools you choose to use. You can also just use your eyes as a guide if you don’t have or can’t get access to some of the tools. I advise at least the pegs, string line, spirit level and shovel, and they are the basics needed to ensure the job can be completed. 

  • Pros: Extremely cost-efficient if using the absolute minimum resources
  • Cons: It can be time-consuming. Tough on the body. You’re relying on yourself to set out accuracy.

Method 2: Installing support blocks

Adding support blocks using concrete is a great way to keep a playset stable, regardless of level. You may not be able to level your playset area, so this method could benefit you. 

Installing support blocks
Installing support blocks

What you will need

  • A measuring tape.
  • A shovel.
  • Concrete/Cement.
  • Water to mix.
  • A basic concreters hand tool for leveling.
  • Spirit level.

The Process

  1. Measure out where the support legs of the equipment will be constructed
  2. Dig to the required depth where each of the supports will stand. (Check manufacturer’s specifications) As a rule of thumb, 20cm- 30cm diameter and 30cm-50cm deep are recommended depending on slope grade. 
  3. Fill the dug out hole with mixed cement/concrete and level off at desired level. A laser level will help here. Alternatively, a spirit level with a long piece of straight timber is also adequate to make sure that the level is accurate. 
  4. Once the cement/concrete is dry, construct the playset on the newly added support blocks. If possible, anchor down the playset to the blocks for extra stability.
  • Pros: You don’t have to have a completely level yard for this method. 
  • Cons: The blocks can be a safety hazard that may cause tripping. 

Method 3: Building a small retaining wall

If your yard is far too steep to try to move soil around for it to be level, you may require a retaining wall. A well built retaining wall will safely hold up your material behind the reinforced area.

This will allow you to then level off the space you previously couldn’t due to the steeply graded slope. This option requires a lot of extra materials. You may not even be able to accomplish this yourself. Let’s look at a basic structure.

Building a small retaining wall
Building a small retaining wall

What you will need

  • A measuring tape.
  • 2 stakes.
  • A hammer/small sledgehammer.
  • Rubber mallet.
  • A string line.
  • A shovel.
  • A tamp.
  • A spirit level.
  • Desired material to build the wall Eg: Wooden sleepers, bricks/blocks, etc.
  • Paver base/pea gravel.
  • Cement (optional).
  • Water to mix cement.
  • Hand tool to work with the cement.

The Process

  1. Map out the area where you want to build the wall. This line will be around the edge of your playset. (If your playset requires 3m X 3m, add .5 of a meter extra to each measurement. So use 3.5m X 3.5m)
  2. Knock the stakes in with your hammer along the line where the wall will be built.
  3. Set up the string line from stake to stake 10cm above the desired finished height of your first row of blocks/sleepers. When you measure from the string line downwards, add the height of the block/sleeper plus an extra 3-5cm for a paver base. (10cm + 10cm paver height + 5cm = 25cm under string line) This step is the most important as getting the base layer right will ensure that the rest of the wall is perfect.
  4. Using a shovel, dig downwards to your required depth along the edge of the string line to obtain a straight line. The base row should be dug out at around 1 foot wide and 6 inches deep. 
  5. Use a tamp to pack down the material, so it’s flat, and uses the spirit level to level off the base. Again, this is important to get as level as possible as it will make sure the rest of the wall is a breeze.
  6. Place your paver base in the newly dug trench and level it out so it’s flat from left to right and front to back. You don’t want your material to rock. Use the tamp to pack in the material.
  7. Start laying the bottom row of bricks/blocks/sleepers. Make sure that this row is close to the perfect level. Side to side and front to back. Check continuously with your spirit level. Use the rubber mallet to tap them in, so they are firm. 
  8. Add some of the paver base/pea gravel behind the wall material to keep it stable and allow drainage.
  9. Once your wall is at the required height, you can use some cement to set it in place, but it’s not always necessary. 
  10. You can now go ahead and fill the area with soil up to your desired level and build the playset.
  • Pros: It looks great and can be built nearly everywhere, depending on the slope grade.
  • Cons: This method can be time-consuming and costly to purchase all materials. 

Method 4: Seeking Professional Help

If you don’t have the time or landscaping isn’t your thing, you can always hire a company to come out and help you. Landscaping companies will help plan and complete works for you, so you don’t have to lift a finger. They will have all the right tools and expertise for serious slopes and drainage. 

Seeking Professional Help
Seeking Professional Help
  • Pros: You don’t have to know a thing about the job, and it will usually come with a guarantee.
  • Cons: It may be costly .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you put a playset on a slope?

You can put a playset on a slope if you build the slope out using a retaining wall and computing the soil properly after completing the wall. A good quality contractor can assist you with this type of work. Setting a playset on a slope without any safety measures will cause it to tip, which is extremely dangerous to the user. 

What is the best thing to put under a swing set?

These days, there is a huge range of options for base materials underneath a swingset. You used to only have access to mulch, tanbark or sand. You can still use these materials, and they are extremely safe and great for drainage. They are also quite cost-effective and readily available.

Otherwise, there are many different types of synthetic materials that can be used. For example, you can have synthetic grass/turf, a rubber composite and even recycled plastic is another quality material. Rubber is the most expensive option, but it also has the lowest maintenance and reduces shock impact marginally.


If you have kids and love spending as much time in the garden as I do, having a playset for them is a dream come true. They can spend hours on them, leaving you to potter around and keep your little paradise intact. Leveling the base for your playset doesn’t have to be a difficult task.

You can either be hands-on and constructive minded or have a professional complete the work for you. The process doesn’t take long, and the kids will love you for it. I hope this article has been able to help you level your playset with relative ease. Thanks for tuning in!

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