DIY Pergola Swingest for the Backyard

We’ve been debating over a swing set for the backyard for months now, and just couldn’t wrap our minds around spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for some wood, swings and a slide.  After some research, and a consultation with a man at our church who builds custom swingsets, we decided to tackle a major DIY project.  Thankfully, we were able to do this while Bradley’s Dad was here to assist.

I have to say this is by far my favorite outdoor project yet!  Other than eating the veggies from the garden, the pergola even tops our raised bed vegetable garden.  In doing some research, Bradley discovered that most children don’t really use the slide portion of a swingset, but the swings get used all the time.  So, we opted to simply have swings in the backyard for the girls.  They hang from hooks placed in the wood, and can easily be removed to put in a porch swing, or to leave empty for using the pergola as an outdoor sitting area {we’re thinking re-sale here; not everyone wants swings in the backyard, but outdoor living space is highly desirable}.

Bradley designed this entire thing!  He and his dad spent about 2 full days cutting wood, pouring cement, measuring, and constructing this beautiful piece for the backyard.  My part?  Well, I’m just really happy because it created usable space out of a not-so-usable slope.  Bradley had to dig a spot out with a chisel {I think that’s what he used} and it was hard work, but we now have a flat space that sits above the rest of the yard.  It’s perfect!

They took the time to cut pieces out of the wood, using a homemade stencil, so that it has the finished curved look of a traditional pergola.

I really wanted this area to be grassy, and what do you know but the house across the street was at the tail end of construction and they were sodding the yard while this project was going on.  They discarded TONS of extra sod into the woods, so we scooped it up and it’s growing quite nicely in its new home.

We’re waiting to put just the right flowering vine to grow on the top of the pergola, and I envision twinkling white lights, a table and chairs, and an elegant meal for two at some point here during the summer.  Maybe something like this:


Hey, if we get enough requests here, Bradley might even be willing to give us a tutorial on how to do this!  So, if you’re interested in the plans for a DIY Pergola, just leave a comment and I’ll make sure my husband reads them all!

ps – this entire project cost just under $300.  Way less than buying a pre-made swing set and it can be used by all ages for enjoyment!

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  • Reply leslie.kidd

    Wow! This looks great! Well done, Bradley!! Very impressive. I can’t wait to see it with vines or lights … and how great that it can be changed to whatever you want to have under it.

    June 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm
  • Reply Aimee

    I love this! Not that there’s anything wrong with a swing set in the backyard, but at first glance you don’t even see the swings, so it just looks like a pergola. It’s timeless; so smart!

    June 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm
  • Reply Claire


    June 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm
  • Reply Natalie

    Wow that looks awesome! You guys are such good DIYers!

    June 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Would LOVE a tutorial!

    June 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm
  • Reply Heather

    I love this idea! Bradley did a great job!! I’m sure the girls are excited about their new swings too! (Isn’t it amazing how the Lord provides even the smallest things like grass!?)

    June 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm
  • Reply Lindsey

    AWESOME!!!! What a great project!!!!!! Great job Bradley!!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Would love a tutorial! Looks great!

    June 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm
  • Reply Dawn Loyd

    I love it, how in the world did it cost under $300???!!! That is amazing! I would love to see how he did it, we are thinking about something like this off the master suite.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm
  • Reply callie

    Lauren this is incredible! And I can’t believe it was all for less than $300!!

    June 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    I love this, Lauren! I know that we (and by we, I mean Justin… 🙂 will need a tutorial soon! Probably my favorite post so far. Wonderful!! Happy swinging!

    June 21, 2012 at 12:14 am
  • Reply sherri lynn

    This looks amazing!!! Way to go Bradley! I love the curved edges – it gives it a nice finishing touch. And the grass growing under there looks so good, toO! I love the idea of lights and a romantic dinner out there! Maybe this fall we can come down and watch the kids inside and make a romantic dinner for you two out there! 🙂

    June 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    Wow, this looks amazing- and so versatile, too!! We might need to add one of these to our backyard, so I would LOVE for Bradley to do a guest tutorial for us!!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm
  • Reply Bert Ashton

    it looking so romantic at evening…
    garden pergolas

    July 2, 2012 at 9:37 am
  • Reply Nolan Jayce

    Fabulous ! How long does it took it finished it?

    Verandahs Melbourne

    July 19, 2012 at 9:12 am
  • Reply Misti

    I love this! It looks great. I’ve been thinking of making a pergola, but I never thought about incorporating swings into it. Great idea! Oh, and I would love a tutorial! 🙂

    July 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm
  • Reply Christian Renwick

    This pergola is going to look wonderful! What I like about it is you can remove the swing set and turn it into an area where you can spend time with your family. Bradley’s done a great job with the swing set. I’m visualizing flowers and plants on the background, and you can also have a barbeque party here!

    August 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm
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    November 25, 2012 at 12:29 am
  • Reply Jamila Brat

    This is very nice. I cannot believe it only cost $300. I hope a tutorial will follow.

    March 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    So want the plans for this! We r building a swing set this summer I’m in love with this!

    April 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    can you show the plans for this? it’s just what i want for the grandkids!

    May 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Do you have the plans for this? Would love to make one for our daughter!

    July 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm
  • Reply Carolyn

    This is exactly what I’m looking for! If you could share with me the plans id be so appreciative!!

    September 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm
  • Reply David L. Penton

    What string lighting did you use for that? I am looking to do something similar to our outdoor pergola. I love your write-up!

    September 16, 2013 at 1:34 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    Very nice design. I’d like to do something very similar for my kids and would value your feedback since you’ve had it up for a while. It looks like the swings or chains could make contact with the front beam; Have there been any issues with that? The design looks quite substantial for a porch swing; Wondering if it has also been stable with kids swings, i.e. any issues with the posts shearing or concrete footings loosening?

    December 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm
  • Reply nutrendmedia

    Thanks for the info. I bought a fixer upper and now I’m working on the backyard, but I have been looking at decks for my home. Thanks again for all the info!

    Pergolas Melbourne

    March 1, 2014 at 4:44 am
    • Reply Brent Scarborough

      Beautiful! My wife and I have been looking through hundreds of pictures trying to find the perfect swing set, and yours is it! Could we get plans or a tutorial for the DIY Pergola?

      May 12, 2015 at 10:23 pm
  • Reply Brian Cross

    Can I ask a few design questions? Are those 6×6 or 8×8 posts? And the beams, 2×10? Rafters 2×8 and cross rafters 2×6? Also, what’s the height from ground to rafters? And is there anything you would do different if building it again? It looks awesome! Thanks.

    May 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm
  • Reply April

    i love this a would love a tutorial!

    May 27, 2015 at 10:34 am
  • Reply Lauri

    It looks like you built this a few years ago. I really love it and was wondering if you have a tutorial or materials list. Thanks.

    June 28, 2015 at 11:00 am
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