Hanging a Tree Swing
To keep the tree—and yourselves—safe, find a sturdy branch, use stainless steel eye bolts and double the nuts
I'd like to hang a swing from a giant live-oak tree in our yard, but don't want to harm the tree in any way. What should we do?
— Mary Jane Roberts, Eustis, Fla.
Roger Cook replies: The main thing is to find a sturdy branch at least 8 inches in diameter, where the swing can hang at least 3 feet from the trunk, but not so far out that it overstresses the branch. The worst thing for the tree—and for anyone on the swing—would be for the branch to snap off, so if it shows any signs of weakness or damage, find another one. Consult a licensed arborist if you have any doubts.
I typically use 5?8-inch or larger eye bolts to support a swing. They should be galvanized or, better yet, stainless steel. To install them, first drill holes through the limb that are slightly larger than the bolts' diameter. Then insert the bolts all the way, eyes tight against the bark, and secure each one with a large flat washer and two nuts. The second nut locks the first one into place.
A hole this size won't harm your tree. In fact, a healthy branch will eventually grow over the metal. It's a far better approach than tying ropes around the branch because as it grows in diameter, the ropes will cut into its living tissue and kill it.