Building Your Own Backyard Playground In Tampa

May 2, 2012 3:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

If you’re a parent who’s tired of watching kids spend all of their free time in front of computers and TV sets instead of playing in the warm, fresh air of Tampa Bay, provide a healthy alternative by turning your backyard into a playground. How much that might cost will probably depend on how much work you are able (or care) to do yourself.

1. Getting Started: Even before you try to decide what kind of playground you want to build (or have someone build for you), it’s worth remembering that some two hundred thousand children go to emergency rooms each year with injuries associated with playgroud equipment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has some great safety tips for making sure your backyard doesn’t turn into a hazardous area for your little ones.

Once you’ve got safety considerations squared away, it’s time to think about what kind of playground you want. If you’re handy with tools and can work off blueprints, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has put plans online for enough fun stuff to turn your backyard into a fully-equipped fun zone with everything from a sandbox to a teeter-totter to a sliding board. Of course, they don’t tell you where to find the raw materials you’ll need to build it.

2. Finding the raw material: In the Lutz area north of Tampa, the Tibbetts Lumber Company has acres of wood products to help you build anything you might desire. Known as Cox Lumber since 1949, the company was bought out by Home Depot in 2006, but three years later Home Depot sold it back to the Tibbetts family. With headquarters in the St. Petersburg area, Tibbetts Lumber Company is a locally owned and operated success story. The company prides itself on having everything pros and do-it-your-selfers need for any job.

Tibbetts Lumber Co.
21033 S.R. 54
Lutz, FL 33588
(813) 949-7584

3. Where to buy kits: If you are little less ambitious, you might find the idea of “some assembly required” more appealing than doing it all yourself. PlayNation of Tampa might be just the place you’re looking for. PlayNation has a variety of play sets ranging from a simple tire swing for under $600 to elaborate play sets including slides, rock climbing walls and rope ladders for several thousand dollars. If you find yourself in over your head, PlayNation can do the installation for you for an extra charge.

PlayNation of Tampa Bay
7246 N. Dale Mabry
(813) 888-6622

4. Where to get help: Good intentions are no substitute for the skill and talent it takes to tackle a do-it-yourself project of any size. It is possible that a project that looked doable in the study and purchase stages is more than you can handle. If you get in too deep, you can either ask (or bribe) a friend for help, or you could call in a professional. If that sounds better than getting the horse laugh from your buddy, Handyman Connection of Tampa might be worth a call. They can put you in touch with someone who can help you turn a mess into a project to be proud of.

Handyman Connection of Tampa
5314 N. Falkenberg Road
Tampa, FL 33610
(813) 631-1008

5. Other alternatives: Even if you build a great backyard playground, there are going to be times when a field trip is called for. When it comes to sheer entertainment, consider a trip to one of Tampa’s best movie theaters. For a little more intellectual stimulation along with plenty of fun, it’s hard to beat the Glazer’s Children Museum.

For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit CBSTampa/YourHome.

Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at