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Best Tips for Buying a Swing Set

Best Tips for Buying a Swing Set

My kids spend many hours in the backyard on their swing set each week. With so much use, it has seen better days and it really needs to be replaced. When I purchased the swing set, I admittedly, had no idea what I was looking for. I went to one store, they had a swing set. I bought it and took it home.

Now that it is time to replace it, I am determined to select a great unit that will last long after the kids have outgrown it. I learned an expensive lesson the hard way with my first purchase. All Swing Sets are Not Created Equal. I have a been doing my research and I want to share my knowledge with you, in the event that you are a first time swing set shopper, to help you get the most bang for your buck!

Be Forward Thinking
The first tip I have to offer is to think long term. This was my fatal flaw initially. I went for immediate gratification with no consideration of how this investment would work out for us in the years to come. While it is tempting to buy something that works right now, you have to keep in mind that kids grow so fast! My kids are unimpressed with the 'baby' options their current set offers, but 2 years ago, they thought it was the best thing to ever happen to a kid.

Consider Space and Placement
Our swing set currently doesn't fit in our yard. We have had to make it work, which severely limits the fun for the kids. If I had been educated about space requirements, I would have made a different selection. It is a good rule of thumb to add 6 feet on each side of the swing set to ensure you have proper space. 6 feet of clearance is needed for safety and optimal play! You also want to place to set in a location that makes it easy for you to see the kids playing from different areas of the house and yard.

Consider Quality, Material, and Installation
Wood sets blend nicely into the backyard but may require staining from time to time to keep them looking their best. The Old School Style of swing sets are prone to rusting from the elements, plastic sets are more expensive usually but offer the peace of mind of no splinters. It is important to consider if you can assemble the set on your own, or if it will need to be installed by professionals. This is the hidden cost for many shoppers as they don't realize, installation can sometimes cost almost as much as the swing set!

Consider Cost
A swing set is an investment in family fun. There are options for every budget, which is a great thing, but with smart shopping, you might be able to score deep discounts. Purchase off-season for great sale prices. Inquire about buying the display model at the end of the season and enjoy special savings.

Start Small
You can purchase modular sets that allow you to expand as the kids get older. This is a great way to start a swing set on a budget and add all of the cool features that will make the kids giddy, as they are old enough to enjoy them! A 3-year-old doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles in a swing set, but they can't stay 3 forever. A modular allows you to customize a set to meet your kids' unique interests as they grow.

I hope these tips help you to make an informed decision when you are shopping for a swing set for your backyard! Don't forget to check the Blue Digger shop for Swing sets and accessories!

6 Spring Activities for Families

6 Spring Activities for Families

Spring is the best season for family fun and exploration. After a long winter with more than enough time indoors to go around, our senses delight in the sun and warmer air. Plus, it is rejuvenating to get out into the world and see everything come alive!

If you are looking for fun ways to get outdoors with your family on the next gorgeous day, you are going to love these ideas! From the backyard to heading out to a farm, this list is packed with affordable and fantastic ways to savor a spring day with your family.

Jump in Puddles 
If your kids like Peppa Pig, this will be a wildly popular activity. Even if they don't like the famous little pink piggy, they will still love the chance to splash around.

Plant Something and Get Your Hands Dirty
A simple seed can grow into something magical for a family. Kids will love nurturing something, and it will add a touch of lovely to your lawn. Dirt is good for kids, believe it or not! So, encourage them to get their hands dirty and get in touch with the art of gardening!

Identify Birds
It is time for the birds to return from warmer climates, so sitting together on the porch to listen to the birds, or heading out on a walk to visually identify them is a fun way to hang out with the kids and to slow down and take note of the beauty of nature.

Visit a Farm
Spring is the time for baby animals to be born! Visiting a local farm will give the kids a chance to coo over cuddly babies and learn more about where food comes from. Showing support to a local farmer is great for the economy and has environmental benefits too!

Create an Ongoing Art Project
As the trees begin to bud and bloom take a photo from the same spot every day, then create an animation from your photo storage app to show how the tree has changed, from buds to full foliage. This is really quite fun and a great exercise in devotion to a project.

Easy on the Candy Easter Basket Ideas

Easy on the Candy Easter Basket Ideas

Easter is near and this year I have visions of stuffing baskets with something better than a bunch of candy! While there is no harm in a chocolate bunny or some jelly beans, there is also no harm in limiting the amount of sugar that our kids consume on indulgent holidays. 

Instead of sugaring up the kids  I am exploring other options that are far sweeter and longer lasting! I can't wait to share a few of these with you, because I have a feeling you are going to like these and your kids aren't going to feel too disappointed, despite the lack of candy involved!
Lego Easter Basket
Instead of filling plastic eggs with jelly beans, why not stuff them with some brick themed loot? Any lego fan would love to find a few legos in an egg, or maybe some Brick Stix. A couple of mini figs in place of peeps would make my son sing with delight. You could skip the basket altogether and opt for a personalized lego tray, and rest assured that this is a gift for Easter that will delight your builder all year long.
Movie Themed Basket
A few dvds, or a google play gift card combined with popcorn, drinks and a movie theater style box of candy make a great way to offer a treat without going overboard this Easter.
Barbie Accessory Basket
My daugher practically lives for the dream house, so offering her barbie clothes, shoes and accessories in lieu of candy is bound to be a hit. You can find barbie themed cryons, coloring books, dvds and so much more to add to the basket for a happy little chick on Easter.
Healthy Snack Basket
This is great for your older kids, especially a college student or busy teen. Pack a basket with fruit, granola, jerky, and juice. You will get the peace of mind that your busy young adult has healthy treats on hand, and they will think you are the coolest Easter Bunny ever and appreciate that you didn't skip them, despite the fact that they aren't a kid anymore.
If you have a great Easter Basket Idea to share that is light on candy and heavy on fun please be sure to leave a comment! From the Blue Digger family to yours, Happy Easter!

How to Container Garden with the Kids

How to Container Garden with the Kids

My kids have always loved helping with some minor gardening in the summer. They love to water the plants and when the time comes to pick a flower, my youngest loses her mind with happiness and excitement. This spring I want to build upon their natural curiosity and get the entire family involved in a gardening project. Given our limited space outdoors and the volume of children that can be found running and playing in our yard at any given moment, a container garden is a great way to start a family gardening project!

I want to share a few tips with you to help your family begin gardening together in a small space. The kids are going to love getting their hands dirty and watering their garden. Parents will delight in the rewards of time spent together and fresh vegetables and fruits!
Selecting a Container and the Proper Soil
The pot is only really important to your eye, plants are not very finicky about what kind of container you use.  The most important part of picking a pot to grow in is to make sure it will allow for adequate drainage. Buy a good quality potting soil. It is important to get soil and not use the dirt from your yard. When straight dirt is used and it dries into a solid clump of dirt, this is not good for your plants.
Select Healthy Plants that are Compatible with Your Light Conditions
When shopping for plants, consider your lighting options. Some plants require full sun, while others need partial sun to thrive. You won't want to mix the plants that need sun with plants that need shade. Select plants that are healthy, with a vibrant color to the plant and no wilting. 
Plant in Layers and Fertilize Regularly
It is a good rule of thumb to plant a mix of tall plants, bushy plants and trailing plants for a full and visually appealing look. Both flowers and vegetables are heavy feeding plants and will greatly benefit from regular fertilizing, even if your soil includes fertilizer. 
Water Regularly
Terra cotta pots will need to be watered more often than any other types of containers, simply because they dry out faster. You will know to water your plants if the soil feels dry to the touch. During the hot days of summer, daily watering is essential to keeping your plants alive.
Trim Plants as Needed
If you have wilted, dry or brown patches, cut or pluck them off to keep your plant healthy. When your plants have produced vegetables or fruits, be sure to harvest as needed and enjoy the fruits of your labor! This is maybe the best part of container gardening as a family. 
Container gardening is a great way to spend time together outdoors, to reduce your stress levels and grocery expenses and add a beautiful touch to your yard. It is also a fantastic way to teach children about patience, nurturing and responsibility.  

Make Dinner Al Fresco!

Make Dinner Al Fresco!

With each day that passes, two wonderful things happen. The temperature rises a little, and we gain a few moments of daylight. Mother Nature is basically inviting us to come back out and play! My family is always up for some fun in the sun, so we take that invitation to heart and head outside at every opportunity!

Dinner done al fresco sounds dreamy after a long winter doesn't it? The kids will love the change of pace. Parents will love the fresh air and a chance to ditch the kitchen in favor of family time. The chance to play will be good for everyone, young and old!

These days, we take dinner to go whenever we can! It is so much simpler than you might imagine to skip the drive-thru and take a delicious and healthy meal with you! 

BBQing on the road is totally possible with an elegant and foldable grill. This one is so handy and easy to use that the road is the only limit to where you can make dinner! You can make something as simple as hot dogs or as fancy as a great steak, on it. It is completely affordable and portable making it a great addition to your camping gear as well.

An insulated backpack is awesome for a trip to the beach, or transporting a yummy lunch on a hike! This one is generously sized to hold 22 cans which is ample space for a meal! It is leak proof and will keep all of your treats cool while making it easier than ever to pack a picnic!

If you don't like to sit on the ground and eat, you can relax and pack this incredible folding picnic table. In a matter of moments, you can have a table and seats for comfortable picnics and portable dinners. No tools are required and you won't believe how sturdy this lightweight table is!

Of course, no matter how you do it, a picnic with your family is sure to be a lot of fun. It can be as simple as an old blanket and a couple of sandwiches or as planned as taking a really cool table or cooler. It is the time spent together, eating, talking and marveling in the beauty of spring that is important!

No matter where your life takes you, or who accompanies you on your outdoor dining adventures, you can rest assured, we have your needs covered in the Blue Digger shop.