Many people ask us how long tree swings last, and it is impossible to give a definitive answer. Our experience suggests when high quality ½” or larger ropes are used, that most ropes are still safe between 3 and 10 years after installation. We have found broken or unsafe ropes on tree swings at +/- 10 years old.
How to Inspect Rope Swings used in Trees and Tree Houses
The most common areas for wear and/or failure of a tree swing are the knots and rub points at the seat, and the knot and movement point at the tree branch.
Inspection should be hands on – move the knots around to view all sides. Take note of the severity of deformed rope, fuzzy rope, and the flexibility of the rope. Can you work the rope without hearing stiff fibers cracking? Ropes primarily break down from UV Rays and friction. Take a look at these photos from a 4 year old rope swing we were asked to inspect.
I would have passed this rope for a couple more years, but we replaced this rope because the client wanted to be extra safe. Usually, if you pay labor for someone to climb a tree and inspect a rope, you might as well buy a new rope and not worry about it. If the rope is close enough to the ground that you can inspect it regularly yourself, then you may be able to stretch out the lifespan of your tree swing.
How to Increase the Lifespan of a Rope Swing
- Do not allow the tree to grow around and encapsulate any part of the rope or knot. The tree should be able to keep growing.
- Use a high quality rope with high initial strength and abrasion resistance, such as an arborist or tree climbing rope.
- Use a larger diameter rope – this will increase longevity and reduce wear on the tree. We typically use ½” rope or ¾” rope for our tree swings.
If not too high in the air, take the rope swing down for the winter. Most importantly, be safe and have fun!