A zipline is one of the coolest ways of making your backyard appealing to children. Whether you want to host a party or simply have a more complex way for your kid to spend time outdoors, have a look at our guide on how to build a zipline in your backyard.
It’s essential to always keep in mind the safety requirements. If you’re not sure, it’s better to check with a professional than risk your health or your children’s. A great idea is to combine this project with other DIY backyard furniture ideas for a more creative space.
How to Build a Zipline in Your Backyard Step by Step
1. Choose Two Solid Objects
The first step you need to take is to find two solid objects where you will build the zipline. Naturally, the objects must be as solid as possible, such as metal or concrete poles. Usually, people choose to do it between trees. If you do this, make sure they are not rotten or have unsafe branches. Generally, the distance should be something between 50 and 500 feet (15.2 – 152.4 m).
2. Stretch Out the Cable
Depending on the distance you chose, make sure you have enough cable. The slack should have a belly in between the points, so measure it correctly from the start. One of the most important things you should know when learning how to build a zipline in your backyard is to never stretch the cable tightly. If you do this, you will allow for a dangerous situation. The speed will be faster and so will the crashing at the end.
3. Attach the Cable
If you are using a tree for this zipline, now is the time to wrap the cable around it a couple of times. Next, clamp the free end to the leading one. For this, make sure you have good quality clamps. They should be sized for the cable diameter precisely. Once again, make sure you are not using any improvisations or anything like it.
Then, tighten the clamps with a socket set. Place two clamps six inches apart, that should be enough. 3-4 clamps will ensure the required safety. You will need to take the other end of the cable, tighten it up and raise it away from the ground.
4. Use a Temporary Cable Clamp
The next step in our guide on how to build a zipline in your backyard is to attach a temporary cable clamp. Place a winch on it and then attach it to the tree. It should be found around 20 feet (6.1 m) from the end. Next, winch the cable up and wrap the free end of the cable around the tree. Clamp the leading end to set it there.
Ideally, the clamps should be found 8 feet away from the tree. Now you can take off the winch on the first clamp. Reuse it and place it on the permanent cable clamp that is found the furthest. This is an important step that will allow you to make other adjustments to the cable. When you see the cable stretching, you can tighten it with the help of this winch.
5. Add the Accessories
Once you’re sure that the resistance structure is set, you can add the rest of the accessories. Some people prefer only some rope to tie themselves with, while other add a small support for standing up or sitting down. Now that you know how to build a zipline in your backyard, you must test it first. Unless you find another volunteer, you’ll have to risk falling from the zipline.
How to Build a Zipline in Your Backyard without Trees
What if you don’t have trees in your backyard but still want your own zipline? You don’t need to worry in this case, since there are other solutions as well. Now we are going to present you a couple of alternatives for this possibility.
1. Choose Something Like a Tree
There is the possibility of a pole in your backyard or something like it. If it looks like a tree, it can be suitable for your own zipline. In urban areas you can find such constructions, but in rural ones it may be rarer. Street signs could work as well, just like posts, pylons, some railing, telephone or volleyball poles, etc. Once again, make sure they are solid enough, especially if you plan on adults using the zipline as well. You won’t believe the amount of force the line generates when in use, so it can destroy easily a weaker anchor.
2. Permanent Deadman Anchor
In case you have no such poles around your home, it’s time to think of other solutions. There are plenty of options when you must anchor the entire structure by yourself, luckily. One of them is the permanent deadman anchor. For this, you will need:
- 1 shovel;
- 2 solid anchors;
- 2 shackles/carabiners;
- 2 A-frames;
This is an ideal solution since it offers enough stability for any type of zipline. A metal tube sealed in concrete should be strong enough to hold it down like you can see in the sketch attached. Attach the metal chain and use a shackle.
There is also another technique, called Temporary Dead Man Anchor, which relies on a less strong anchor and on the line instead of the chain. You could use this solution if you intend to use it only for children, for instance. The A-frames can be attached at any time, as long as you have the underground system ready.
3. Auger or Duckbill Earth Anchors
These two methods are great for soil or sandy soil. If you have only sand in your backyard, it’s better not to use them. For these, you will need:
- 2 or 4 anchors;
- 2 A-frames;
- 2 shackles/carabiners.
If you decide on these types of anchors, you should know that it will cost you more. However, they’re easier to install than the dead man method we presented above. Luckily, you can find cheap Auger anchors online and they are also easy to take out of the ground.
Meanwhile, the duckbill anchors are a little more expensive. They are also available online, but they can be a little bit more expensive than the other type. Moreover, for these, you will need some drive steel tool since you need to hammer them down. If, however, you want to take them out, you will need to dig for it. The best idea is to use two of these anchors on each side, to allow no room for mistakes. With the shackles, you can connect them. Add the A-frames and climbing slings on each side and you’re set.
4. Build Posts by Yourself
Another idea if you want to learn how to build a zipline in your backyard without trees is to build some posts by yourself. For this, you need to have:
- 2 round wooden posts;
- Concrete mix;
- Digging tool;
- Wheelbarrow/ trough.
First, make sure you are authorized to build this in your backyard. If you are, you should dig two holes that measure 5 feet down. Make them double the broadness of the posts. Place the posts, prepare the concrete following the instructions on the bag, and fill the holes. Ensure that the post is still sitting in the center. Let the concrete dry for around two days and then set up your zipline. As an extra measure, you should wrap the line several times around the posts. In this way, it will not slip as easy.
5. Use the Car
In case you have a car and want to make your own short zipline, you can use it. It’s important to use it only for a short line, not bounces, jumps or longer lines. There are two possibilities:
- Anchor the slackline to the towing ball or shackle. This is the easiest way and it take little time and effort.
- Wheel and log method. With this second option, you need to place a loop of line under the wheel. For this, you can either use a car jack or simply drive over it. Furthermore, you will need to anchor it to another piece of wood (around 2 – 4 inches in diameter). With the help of A-frames or plywood boxes, raise the line as much as you want to.
The best part about this method is that you can use it anywhere, regardless of the type of soil you have. Moreover, it is useful for a short-time zipline, such as if you want to camp somewhere for a brief period.
As you can see, it’s not hard to learn how to build a zipline in your backyard. If you already have some old trees lying around, it’s perfect. If not, you will have to look for other solutions. There are 5 alternatives we presented above, which are great if you want to enjoy a zipline even without trees. Finally, what you need to keep in mind at the end is to ensure safety for all the elements you use and test the entire structure before letting children use it.
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