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Are you looking for a fun way to stay in shape and build confidence? Climbing walls seem to have started popping up pretty much everywhere, but what you might not know is that you can also have one of your own installed on your own property!

Climbing walls, just like trampolines and swimming pools, are an excellent long term health investment. You can get a great deal of use out of them and some models can even be customised, allowing you to keep enjoying new challenges as you improve.

That being said, it is not a good idea to just install a climbing wall out of the blue, especially if you have not taken the time to look at your options. There will be restrictions in place for what exactly you can construct on your property and it should also go without saying that, for the sake of safety, your wall should only be installed by a specialist builder or carpenter.

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What are my options for installing a garden climbing wall?

Like with any other major home improvement project, there several options open to you when it comes to garden climbing walls. 

The most simple choice is to install climbing holds on an existing wall. Using the holds to create a lateral path will leave you with a ‘traverse wall’ - a much safer climbing wall that is perfect for a beginners.

Traverse walls are usually installed on brick or timber surfaces. However, you do not want to end up compromising the strength of your wall, so if you do fancy this option be sure to hire a local builder who can make sure the surface is safe to use.

Another options is to build a separate standing climbing wall. There are a number of specialist companies which offer products like this, usually constructed from plywood. An advantage of speaking to a specialist is that they will have a wide number of choices depending on your skill and available space. 

One thing that you should keep in mind about these walls, however, is that just like sheds and wooden decking, they will need to be periodically maintained. You should also avoid trying to construct them yourself unless you have the proper qualifications; if not, consult a local carpenter.

What do I need to know about installing a garden climbing wall?

Before you set your mind on building a garden climbing wall, there are a few things you will need to consider.

The first is location. Exactly how much space do you have to play with? This will help to give you an idea of exactly what kind of climbing wall you can install: is the only room available on the side of your house or do you have a gigantic back garden with more than enough space for a full climbing structure? 

Another important point about location is exactly where your property is. If you live in a conservation area, a national park or another similarly protected site, you will likely find that there are much harsher restrictions on what you are allowed to do. The best way to find out about this will be to either contact your local authority directly or check their website.

Talking about restrictions, this brings us to our second point: you should never start a major home improvement project without first checking whether you need permission. Standing structures, including climbing walls, are usually classified as ‘outbuildings’. While these can usually be built without planning permission, they are still subject to building regulations. To give you an idea of how serious this is, a representative of the council would be well within their rights to make you take down a completed and ready-to-go climbing wall if they find anything not up to code.

The restrictions that we are talking about decide:

  • How high and wide your structure can be
  • Where it can be placed (particularly in relation to property boundaries and public highways)
  • How much ’original land’ on your property can be taken up

It can also be worth telling your neighbours about your plans. While you will not exactly need their blessing to build your wall, they may have grounds to complain about your project if you build it without checking first. For example, if your climbing wall suddenly ruins their view, it could impact the value of their property and they may decide to appeal to your local authority.

Finally, you will need keep safety at the forefront of your mind at all times. You will need proper equipment to use your wall without risk of injury, including solid and well maintained points for your harness and roles to attach to. If children will be using your climbing wall, you may also want to have a crash mat installed.