How to Disassemble and Load an Outdoor Play Structure in Preparation for a Move

Moving to a new home is exciting, but it can also be stressful, particularly when you have large, bulky, and heavy outdoor toys and other backyard play objects to move. Playhouses, swingsets, and a variety of other outdoor amenities are cumbersome, and figuring out how to properly disassemble these objects is critical to prevent injury and disorganization. Below is more information that can help you take these large structures apart and prepare them for loading and an easy reassembly:

What you will need

  • screwdriver set

  • ratchet and socket set

  • pencil and note pad

  • ladder

  • work gloves

  • digital camera

  • sturdy moving cartons

  • magic marker in color of your choice

  • cable ties

  • resealable plastic bags

  • non-stick masking tape

  • instruction/assembly manual

What to do

1. Clear an area for disassembly of the structure. Before beginning the actual disassembly of the playhouse or structure, carefully choose a wide, flat area in close proximity to the structure for "staging" the parts and organizing them before loading. Look for an area that allows easy access to a small utility trailer or pickup truck, and also be sure to avoid overly wet and muddy spots, if possible.

2. Work in reverse order or from top to bottom. Once you have cleared off space to lay out the various components, you are almost ready to begin the actual disassembly process. If you still have possession of the instruction or assembly manual for the structure, then you will need to disassemble it in reverse order of assembly.

If the manual is no longer available, and you are unable to obtain a replacement copy from the company or online, then you will need to work from top to bottom as you take the structure apart. This will prevent possible collapse of the structure and subsequent injury or damage.

3. Take photographs of the process. After making all necessary physical preparations, begin by taking numerous photographs of the assembled playhouse so you have a good idea of how it goes back together. Try to take pictures from all angles, including low angles beneath the structure looking upward and from atop the ladder looking downward.

In addition to these conventional pics, be sure to take several photographs of details on the structure, like the corner bracing, slats, roofing, and hardware fasteners used. Don't forget to take photos of the backside where nuts and washers may be attached.

As you take each photograph, record in a notebook the image file name or number on your digital camera. Give each entry a brief description, if possible, to help you later remember the identity of each part and section.

4. Disassemble the structure in discrete steps. Once you have taken photos, begin the process of disassembly by removing bolts, screws, and other hardware holding it all together. Your disassembly procedure may vary, but you will find it easier to reassemble if you create individual, discrete steps for disassembly.

As you work, place each piece of hardware in a resealable plastic bag and group the pieces at your discretion. Next, attach a small strip of nonstick masking tape to the outside of the each bag with an image number that corresponds to what is on your camera storage.

5. Organize the pieces of the structure. Another step in the structure tear down is to keep each component organized as you remove it. Try to keep each identical piece together and bind them together with cable ties or several wraps of tape. Use labels from masking tape strips to make the objects more readily identified.

As you work, lay out the objects on the lawn in multiple neat piles and begin to pack boxes with groups of objects that will fit inside the boxes. Be sure to label the exterior of the boxes in order to help keep them organized.

6. Pack the structure's pieces. Once you have removed all the pieces of the structure and set them out, begin to pack the structural pieces as neatly as possible. Keep all the plastic bags you made containing hardware in a combined, special carton, and lay out the rest of the objects that won't fit into a carton.

7. Load and move the structure. After getting the structure's pieces organized and all set out, begin to load the carrying trailer or vehicle. Try to keep parts that were removed last from the structure near the outside edge of the vehicle; this will help prevent having to dig into your parts and looking for a given object when you start rebuilding from the bottom up.

If you need help with last-minute moving, contact a moving service through a website like