High above it should go. Preferably far up, where the treetops gently sway back and forth in the wind, where the birds build their nests, from where the world can be seen with a whole new perspective. Up here, neither helicopter parents nor annoying siblings disturb them, and the little yapper next door can bark all he wants: he’s not allowed up in the tree house either. In this place there is a different regime than in the children’s room. Coming up is by invitation only, and cleanup is freestyle, but not mandatory. A tree house can be many things to children: a place for exciting adventures and thrilling games, a space where they can retreat to paint, read, dream. Here they are hidden, but also safe, while the green canopy of the old apple tree rustles softly above them.
If you now have a taste for it and would like to build a tree house for your child, here are some useful tips. We also reveal how to get your kids well involved when building a treehouse. Because working together not only increases the fun factor for both young and old, but also considerably strengthens the self-confidence of your children.
Which tree is the right one?
A tree house without a tree is like a castle without a dragon: witless. That’s why the first thing you need beautiful, healthy tree. Ideally it will stand on your property. In the case of trees in the forest or the park next door, on the other hand, nothing can be done without the owner’s consent (preferably in writing)!). Otherwise you could quickly be sued for damage to property. But even in the home garden, there are some things to consider when choosing the right tree: Neither the trunk nor the branches should have major damage, otherwise there is a risk of breakage. Rotten, rotten spots and water pockets are also negative criteria. And if you find a woodpecker cavity, better take another tree, otherwise the birds will quickly flee.
A sprawling tree canopy is important because the treehouse takes up quite a bit of space. In addition, you should check whether the branch bifurcations, which will later support the cottage, are also thick and stable enough. And don’t put it too high if you don’t want to worry about it all the time later on. Still remains the question of the best type of tree. The following have proven their worth standing apple trees, because they have a sturdy trunk and with their canopy in the summer sufficiently shade the tree house. Mature pear trees as well as oak trees are also ideal. You should, however, avoid species that are susceptible to breakage, such as poplar or robinia.
Which building material do I need?
For a tree house you actually do not need much. The platform, side walls and roof are made of wood. Depending on the construction, you need to estimate one to two solid meters. It is best to use Native woods: larch, pine, spruce. They are light, but also strong enough to carry your children. Oak is much stronger, but it also weighs more. To preserve the tree and not make the tree house heavier than necessary, brace lighter timbers with cross and corner braces. This is an advantage, especially when constructing the platform. Before you install the wood, it should have been treated with a protective glaze or appropriate oil. So it is much more resistant to UV light and weathering.
What is the best way to fix the tree house?
To fix a tree house, there are several methods:
- Possibility I:
The classic way to build a tree house starts with four thick planks nailed crosswise, one plank left and right, to the tree. For this you will need suitable nails of decent length and strength. The frame is then attached with large key screws. The floor boards are also nailed on, as well as the supporting framework and the side walls. For the roof you can also use wood, but better are tar paper and asphalt shingles. Both are also fastened with small nails.
- Possibility II:
To protect the tree, you can also use load ropes or load straps instead of nails and screws to support the platform. You can take coconut ropes or resilient plastic ropes as well. This way the house will "hang" in the tree. Spread the load over several branches and wrap some raffia underneath to protect the bark when tightening and against bearing pressure. Since branches can grow up to an inch in width each year, either don’t pull the loops too tight or readjust the tension once a year. This is how you prevent the branch in question from becoming too constricted.
- Option III:
Especially compatible for the tree is if you put the platform on a stilt construction. Thus, the tree house is practically on the ground. For better stability, you should also anchor it with a concrete base. The whole structure, including the floor, side walls and roof, then rests on it. The tree itself is included in the overall construction more as a decorative element than as a load-bearing element.
What to look for in any case in terms of safety?
In order to minimize the risk of injury, the platform of the tree house should be not higher than 1 – 1.5 meters above the ground are located and by at least 75 – 80 cm highhes railing secured become. The railing as well as the tree house itself must be stable. Sand, gravel, mulch or wood chippings around the house cushion falls better than a solid surface. When it comes to the platform, make sure it is absolutely level. Boards must not be loose, nails must not stick out. You should keep the distance between the boards as small as possible, after all, your child should not be able to stick his or her head between them. Otherwise, the tree house should also allow the space for climbing, crawling around, and experimenting that children need to learn to manage risk.
What equipment belongs to the tree house?
Suitable climbing ropes or climbing nets are indispensable for the children’s climbing fun. Rope ladders are also great. All three devices can be easily pulled up if guests are not allowed to enter the tree house. If the platform has the right height, a slide can also be attached for a quick exit. Otherwise, playground equipment of all kinds around the tree house provides plenty of variety: In sandboxes, spacious castle complexes and bakehouses for sand cakes are created, on swings small and large children give free rein to their urge to move, and paddling pools provide welcome cooling in midsummer.
Your child will probably spend a lot of time in his tree house. Therefore, you should also build it together with him Comfortable furnishings. Cushions, for example, make comfortable seating, but camping furniture such as small stools or chairs are also good if space is available. Blankets are even doubly practical. Children can sit on them, but they can also snuggle up in them if it is chilly outside. To be able to quench thirst at any time, plastic cups are recommended. They are quite robust and are hardly suitable as a throwing object. To keep a bit of order, stackable storage boxes are quite useful. A little light is also very easy to conjure up: with a string of lights, the tree house is transformed in no time at all into a magical castle in which elves flicker around like fireflies.
How do I involve my children well in the work??
Building a tree house is not particularly difficult. Therefore, you can easily involve children of all ages in the preparation and execution of the activity. This already starts with the selection of the right place. If your child has a favorite tree in the garden? Why don’t you first check whether it is not a suitable location?. Otherwise, the feeling of being able to help is much more important for children than being able to complete the tree house as quickly as possible. That’s why you should focus less on the speed of construction and more on involving your child in the planning and execution – even if, of course, you have to have the overall plan in mind.
Smaller children are already well able to hold wood while sawing, mark a mark or hammer in a small nail. For older children, the tasks can be more challenging, such as sawing boards or cutting the roofing felt to size. You should not let your children work with dangerous machines such as hand saws or table saws yet. Through a age-appropriate participation on the one hand, the children learn the practical handling of materials and tools. On the other hand, it’s easy to train their ability to think through a problem and find a solution to it. Once the treehouse project is complete and the move-in is done, your kids can confidently enjoy the fun. Because finally they have also contributed their part.