Have your kids been begging you for a trampoline—but your backyard is so uneven or sloped, you’re afraid of the risks? Then you’re in the right place! In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know in this trampoline leveling & installation guide so the installation will be as safe as it must.
It will take some extra work, but it is definitely doable!
How to Properly Level and Install a Trampoline
Before we get anything else done, it is important to find out if the slope we’re dealing with is not too pronounced. Even if no inclination is immediately apparent, this procedure is useful just to verify your trampoline is sitting evenly.
Before You Start: Measure the Slope
For this, you will need a tape measure, a carpenter level, and a wood plank long enough to sit across the trampoline from edge to edge, with some additional margin. The steps are as follows:
- Find out the diameter of your trampoline. If you don’t have the specs printed out somewhere, use your tape measure.
- Move your trampoline to the location you have planned for it, tilted and all; nobody will be using it just yet.
- Place your wooden plank on of the trampoline, in such a way that it is following the inclination. Set the carpenter level on top of it. Plank and level should be parallel.
- Slowly raise the end of the plank that is lower; this should change the level’s angle as well. Stop and hold position when the bubble on the level’s display is between the two lines, which indicates a perfect horizontal.
- Using your tape, measure the distance between the now raised plank and the edge of the trampoline (which the plank formerly made contact with).
- Next, divide the diameter of your trampoline by the number you got on the preceding step (distance from raised plank to trampoline). If the result exceeds 7, then the slope cannot be worked with; the trampoline must be moved to a different location… unless you’re up for some serious digging, which we will cover further down.
Once you have found a position where, upon performing the above steps, you obtain a result equal to 7 or (preferably) under, you can proceed to the leveling part.
Whichever method you opt for, don’t forget to repeat said steps when you’re done, in order to verify that the trampoline is actually sitting even. There’s no need to worry if the trampoline is not perfectly level; a little deviation from the horizontal will be fine.
Leveling Method 1: Adjusted Standing
This alternative is fairly simple, and inexpensive, though it might be better for slopes that are not too pronounced, or for ground that is uneven rather than sloped. This is similar to placing books under a wobbly table—only in this case, you use blocks that are originally intended for cars or RVs that will be sitting on uneven ground. Given their purpose, they are perfectly capable of bearing the weight of a trampoline.
Choosing the right block is important: some of them are shaped as wedges, intended to cradle the tire and keep it in position. This type, aside from possibly being of the wrong shape for your trampoline’s feet, cannot go past a certain height. Interlocking blocks can be stacked higher, and their design enables them to lock onto one another so they will stay where we are regardless of movement.
Leveling Method 2: A Trench
There are several possible reasons why you might prefer not working with leveling blocks; it could be, for example, that you feel your trampoline’s feet won’t find enough purchase on the blocks and they might slip off during use. This method does the opposite than the previous one: rather than raising the lower end, it sinks the upper end.
For this, you need the number you got on step 5 of “measuring the slope”, when you determined the distance between the raised plank and the trampoline; that’s how deep you need to dig, wherever the legs at the higher end of the slope are sitting. This way, you compensate for the dip in altitude on the lower end.
Leveling Method 3: In-Ground Trampoline
Remember when we said that more extreme slopes can be dealt with through serious digging? That’s what we will be discussing now.
When we say in-ground, we mean it literally: in other words, digging a hole big enough for your trampoline to fit into. This option is, by far, the most complicated one: it’s not enough to make the bottom appropriately leveled for the trampoline to sit on, you also have to ensure the hole won’t eventually cave in.
For this purpose, you need a retaining wall. Fortunately, as long as the hole is not too deep—and it doesn’t have to be, as its only purpose is to provide a level footing for the trampoline—you can get away with using sheets of corrugated steel.
And that’s not all: where there’s a hole, there will be a pool as soon as it rains. Aside from your trampoline not being designed for sitting in water, this entails a heightened risk of dengue and Zika fever, among other diseases.
Unwanted vermin such as mice and possums may also be attracted to the very convenient watering hole, and this can eventually cause an infestation. For this reason, proper drainage is important, which will have to be connected to the main line if it is to do its job properly.
Given the work and planning involved, this one might be best left to a professional; that said, it is a fairly solid alternative for getting your trampoline where you want it, without fear of toppling over.
Why Not Just Cut the Legs to Level a Trampoline?
Technically, you can, but it is not recommended; if one cuts too much, then the trampoline might be rendered unusable, and there’s no way to fix it.
There are a few conditions that should be met, if you are absolutely set on going this route.
- The trampoline’s location must be permanent; once you cut the legs off, it will be hard (or impossible) to place it anywhere else.
- Sawing off the legs means the trampoline cannot be sold; few if any buyers will accept a trampoline that cannot sit evenly.
- And last but not least, you should make sure your saw is up for the task, namely, that it features blades strong enough to cut through steel. This one is a good example.
Ill-advised though it may be, this could be your only recourse if your trampoline will be sitting on concrete. That said, it is highly recommended to set the trampoline on softer ground, as it provides better shock absorption when jumping and it is easier to work with for a leveled installation.
It may be tempting to just set the trampoline on uneven ground and be done with it. It bears stressing, however, that this is extremely risky: jumping on a specific side may topple the whole thing over with the consequent risk of injury for its occupants. Making it safe is definitely worth the extra effort and additional expense.