Learn the proper methods to build a treehouse that is safe and sound for you and the tree, plus actual, doable treehouses you can build!
Yes, this really could be the summer that you finally build a treehouse for
yourself your kid!
Did you know, though, that you can’t just throw that thing up there and hope for the best?
Nope, my Friends! Trees have feelings, too! Like, legitimately. Also, they have diseases that they can get if you stress them and put big mean holes in them. And as much as you don’t want to hurt your favorite tree, you SUPER don’t want to hurt your favorite tree so much that it dies and you have to cut it down next summer and demolish the treehouse that you just spent so much time building this summer.
Read on to learn about the proper methods to build a treehouse that is safe and sound for you and the tree, and then check out actual treehouses that you really can build this summer!
Are you up to code? You can’t simply toss one of these babies up over the weekend, at least not if you live in city limits. Take a few days, first, and figure out if your insurance, city codes, neighbors, or anyone/anything else will throw a fit if they happen to notice your awesome treehouse.
Build an elevated playhouse next to a tree. Sometimes a kid doesn’t necessarily need her treehouse to be IN a tree–she might just want some height! This playhouse is also a good choice if your property doesn’t have any trees, or only has saplings.
Here’s another elevated playhouse that’s less elaborate but just as cute!
Build an elevated platform around a tree. This is the next least invasive treehouse technique: build your house around the tree, but on an elevated platform that isn’t attached to the tree. Just don’t forget that you’ll have to support the posts that support that platform, likely digging down and reinforcing the bases with concrete.
If you’re attaching the treehouse to the tree, use the right fasteners. Make sure you’re using the correct bolts for the weight of the treehouse, and make them extra-long so that the tree can continue to grow in width. Space them as far apart as you safely can, so that the tree isn’t asked to repair around multiple points of damage in one area. This design, for instance, has way too many bolts.
Here’s an article, written by a tree house construction company, about the difference between threaded bolts and lag bolts. Lag bolts are what you want to use.
Build the platform, and then the sides. This post doesn’t have design plans, but it does have a good method to follow, as well as some great building tips.
Brace the platform with diagonal beams. This article describes how to measure and cut those beams, but again, choose the correct type of bolt for your own tree and treehouse.
Attach the tree house to the tree AND an elevated platform. This is possibly the best of both worlds, especially if you have a kid who insists that her tree house has to be IN the tree. Here’s another design that uses two trees and a post.
Build a treehouse between two trees. This is a good way to split the load that the tree must bear. This post also walks you through building the treehouse’s platform the same way that you do a deck, so if you’ve built a deck before, then you can build a treehouse!
Build a treehouse on a tree trunk. This won’t last forever, but you can get a good few years out of this climbing wall/platform/slide, and I’d say that’s worth the effort.
Use a tarp for a roof. Although this entire post is a good read, the most innovative inclusion is that of a tarp for the treehouse’s roof. It keeps the treehouse cooler in the summer, can be taken down in winter, and drastically reduces the weight that the tree must bear.
Add a bucket and pulley. You don’t want kids trying to climb up to their tree house with their arms full of stuff.
Add a skateboard swing. Here’s a way to construct a swing out of an old skateboard.
Add a tire swing. If there’s a sturdy branch on the opposite side of the tree, here’s how to add a tire swing so that you have the ultimate kids’ party tree.
Add monkey bars. Because kids always want more climbing!
Add a zip line. Just don’t forget that there has to be a way to get the zip line back to the top.
Photo credit: tree house image via Bigstock.