Most environmentally safe way to attach a swing to a tree limb?

For a while now, my wife has wanted an old fashioned swing to be attached to the large limb jutting from an ancient white oak in our back yard. By old fashioned she meant a piece of wood (probably a 2X6X24 plank) with rope attached to either side, then up to the tree limb.

Well I have the rope and the wood…now I only need to attach it to the limb. The limb is roughly 25 feet off the ground, and roughly 15 inches in diameter. Should I affix some sort of rubber to the nylon climbing rope? Where the rope will be touching the tree? Should I put some sort of mat there? Maybe drill out space for half inch eye bolts and put the rope through them? I’m certainly not going to use chain…I don’t want to cut through the tree after a hundred swings…Any Ideas?

My idea:

Each rope around the limb gets tied like a noose. Leave it loose in the beginning. When you get the ropes positioned properly, hammer some sheet metal (aluminum siding scraps maybe) to make a guard between the rope and tree limb. (My brother is a printer, so I would have access to printing plates for this). Wrap excess rope over these plates to cover up jagged or sharp edges you might have. Tighten the nooses, and you should be good to go. No cutting or drilling into the tree involved.

To clarify, don’t hammer the metal sheeting to the tree. You want to make it into more of a sleeve. Wrapping the rope around it, and tightening the noose should hold it in place.

Just a thought. BTW, I now picture you looking like Charles Ingalls, sleeves rolled up, straw hat, suspenders, working on this while your wife, in a prairie skirt buttoned up to the neck and wearing a bonnet, brings you a pitcher of lemonade. Kind of a quaint image, really.

Could you do something similar with PVC? Make a cut along the length of it and slip it over the limb?


Oh and your idea is a very good one. I even have some leftover sheet metal from a shingle job I did not too long ago…

Around here we use eyehooks. I think the sheet metal would eventually kill the limb.

I think anything you wrap around the limb is bad. Two eye SCREWS about 1/2" diameter w/ a hole large enough slip the rope through or fasten a clip. Make sure you get a hard steel screw that won’t wear through. It won’t hurt the tree, for sure not as much as wrapping the bark with something that’ll hold moisture or worse yet, cut the bark. You’re just looking for termites, ants, etc. with that. (A wet dark covered area on top of a limb.) You can bet it’ll draw pests.
If you ever decide to remove the swing you can simply unscrew the eyes. I doubt it would ever hurt the tree no matter how long they were there. Especially since they are at the bottom of the limb.
IIRC Charles was retrieving a kite and fell out of the tree. He broke several ribs and the girls had to finish stacking some grain that he’d agreed to do. The community pitched in and the merchant bastard who was gonna “steal” his mules eventually left town. So, be careful…Phlosphr I ain’t much into stacking 100# sacks of grain these days. You’ll just have to get some new mules.

Wow. Good thing I don’t do this for a living, eh?

Sorry you killed your tree, Phlosphr.

Sorry Casey I didn’t mean to sound like an ass. I was just thinking long term and the size of the limb he was talking about. 4’ in circumference?
Plus, the bark on that tree should be pretty damned thick. I was just jacking around and since I’ve made several of these things over the years w/ no rotten or diseased limbs yet.
No offense intended. :slight_smile:

You didn’t. Not even close. :wink:

I haven’t made even one. If I’m going to damage a tree with my idea, better it be a cyber-tree than the one in my yard. Good to have experienced opinions around to consider things the inexperienced ordinarilly wouldn’t.

None at all taken.

Heck, use two large bolts, seal the “wounds” with wood glue, and plant another tree in the back yard, thus balancing nature.

Errr… why not just use two ropes and tie them around it? :confused:

Eventually the ropes will snap, and/or the limb will be damaged. I ended up with two large inch wide permenant clamps and an eye bolt attached to the bottom of each. Swing works great…

I think the eyebolts would be the least harmful approach, with the understanding that after a while they will become permanent fixtures of the tree.

When I was very young (preschool age) we had a medium-sized oak tree standing in our backyard about 15 feet from the back porch. My dad rigged a clothesline from the porch to a pulley bolted into the side of the tree.

After a while, they stopped using the clothesline and the rope came down, but he never bothered to remove the pulley. Over the years and decades, the tree started growing around the pulley, so when I was in high school it was half-embedded in the tree. Now my brother lives there, and you can look at the tree and not see any sign of the pulley. But it’s in there, completley absorbed.

So I’m just saying, those eyebolts might be hard to remove in 30 years or so. :slight_smile:

…and nobody got hurt. Enjoy the rest of y’alls picnic and have many happy years swinging together. :wink:

Get two of the biggest eyescrews you can get (not eyebolts, I’d get what are essentially big wood screws). Drill hole in underside of limb for proper length and diameter to match eyescrew. Spray pruning spray into hole. Then screw in the eyes. Then spray pruning spray all around the edge of the screw and hole. Then tie rope into eyes. No entry for insects, water will not enter hole since it’s on the bottom.