For years, I’ve wanted swings in our backyard. I could just picture my kids gently swinging and enjoying the peaceful scenery of a summer evening. But the hanging of said swings was always something I could not figure out, and it was just enough deterrent to keep me from pursuing the children’s idyllic childhood bliss. Then I saw some hammock chair swings online, and I finally decided the swings had been put off for too long.
You don’t have to climb a tree to hang a hammock chair with a rope; all you need is
- A Hammock Chair
- A healthy tree with branch at least eight (8) inches in diameter
- Strong rope
- The ability to make a knot in the rope strong enough to hold your swing
- A carabiner (or S hook) if you want to move your hammock swing
It really is that simple. We put two up in an afternoon, and the second one only took about 15 minutes (the first one took longer because we didn’t quite know what we were doing).
The Hammock Chair
Do you call it a hammock chair or a hammock swing? I use both terms interchangeably. I looked at a lot of hammock swings (or chairs) before I settled on this one from Wayfair. I originally was going to buy some different swings from Amazon, but by the time I was ready to actually purchase them, they had gone up $8 Billion Dollars (give or take). So Wayfair it was.
These are cotton and may not last as long as a synthetic material, but I like the look and softness of cotton, so I’m ok with it. Another thing to note is that they say the weight limit is 200 pounds. We’ll certainly put that one to the test, so I’ll be sure to update this post if my husband (um, I mean some unnamed friend) goes plummeting to the earth. He’ll only be two feet off the ground, so it shouldn’t hurt too bad.
A Healthy Tree
The tree that you hang your swing from should be healthy, with no dead branches or signs of disease. Choose a branch that is a minimum of eight inches in diameter, and remember that the farther you get from the trunk of the tree, the weaker the branch will be and the more stress you’re putting on the branch. We had a pecan tree in our backyard that looked just right, so that’s the one we chose.
Your rope choice is important, also. After researching the various options, it looks like you want to get a ⅝ inch polypropylene braided rope, but you’d be surprised how hard it was to find that option. I found a 50 foot Utility Rope on Amazon (Amazon Affiliate link) that is made with MFP (multifilament polypropylene). The description says it is “stronger and softer than traditional polypropylene lines while being more economical than nylon or polyester lines.” Sounds like a winner to me! I knew that I didn’t need a full 50 feet, but decided I’d rather have extra rope than not enough, so I bought two ropes.
Carabiner or S-Hook (Optional)
If you do not want your hammock chair swing to be tied directly to the rope around the tree, you may want to purchase a heavy duty carabiner or an s-hook to attach to your hammock chair. If you decide to use a carabiner, be sure to check the weight limit before purchasing. The ones I bought (Amazon Affiliate Link) were weight-tested to 855 pounds, so I knew they would hold the swing and anyone in it.
An S-Hook might also work, but since you will be attaching your rope directly to it, the carabiner is a better option since it will close.
The Ability to Make a Bowline Knot
Here’s what I can tell you about knot tutorials on YouTube: they look so easy when you watch them, and then you try for yourself and it can be pretty confusing! But just keep working on it, and you can do it.
There are a lot of knots that will do the trick, but I chose the bowline knot because it is strong enough to hold a load but easy to untie if necessary. And it’s also not terribly complicated to learn. Here’s a link to written instructions and here’s a link to a video. I watched it many, many times today; it’s nice, quick and to the point.
Now It’s Time to Hang Your Swing!
Step 1: Enlist the Help of Someone with A Good Arm
To begin with, you need to get your rope over the branch. The easiest way to do this is to tie something to the end of your rope heavy enough to get it over the branch. We looked around and opted for a cornhole bag because it’s a) decently heavy, b) not sharp or pointy and c) something we already had.
If this thing was going to fall on our heads or come flying back in our faces, a cornhole bag seemed like a relatively safe projectile.
Here’s where things started going south for us: I enlisted the help of my son (the guy with the arm). I tried to throw the cornhole bag over the branch on my own and it was a pretty pitiful effort.
My son got it over the branch after a few tries, but it wrapped around the branch twice and then we could not get it down! We yanked and poked and thought that all was lost, but my husband got the pool pole and attached the net we use to clean out the poo and was able to send the cornhole bag-rope-contraption back over the branch. Hooray! Now we have the rope properly over the branch.
Step 2: Attach the Carabiner to the Rope with a Bowline Knot Loop.
The bowline knot makes a nice, secure loop. You can hook your carabiner onto that loop.
Now you need to attach the other end of the rope to something. I originally intended to thread the rope through a slip knot and pull the loop up snug against the branch. However, my husband and my daughter pointed out that it would be very hard (maybe impossible?) to get that down. So we decided instead to tie the other end of the rope to the carabiner also. We may change our minds again, but this works really well.
Step 3: Determine the Height of Your Chair and Adjust the Rope Accordingly
Most guides say that you will want the bottom of your hammock chair to rest about 24 inches of the ground, but that’s easier said than done. When we first hung our hammock chair at the recommended height, it dropped substantially when someone sat on it. It was way too low. It took a few tries to get the height just right, and that was when I was very glad we used the bowline knot. We ended up having to untie and re-tie that knot several times before we got the height just right.
The rope will stretch out some, and there’s no real way to know how far it will stretch until someone sits in it. So be prepared to adjust the height a few times; it’s worth the effort. Because I’m short, I ended up having to bring a ladder out. If you’re tall, you may be able to do it without that additional assistance.
Step 4: Enjoy Your Chair
Now you’ve got your chair hung properly, hooray! Let a grown up really weight test and put it through its paces before you let a child swing in it. You want to make sure it’s very secure.
Grab a pillow or cushion and go enjoy your swing!
If you’re curious, here’s my cost per hammock chair:
50 Foot Utitlity Rope
Heavy Duty Carabiner
$6 for two (they weren’t sold individually)
There you have it, a hammock swing hung with sturdy rope and easily removed for under $50! Let me know when you hang yours!