If you build a tree house yourself, it is play, fun and excitement for your child – but also a place of retreat. We show you what is important when building it yourself.
Tree houses have always enjoyed great popularity with young and old. The best proof of this is provided by numerous travel websites that advertise stylish tree house hotels around the world. Because no matter how old we get: a luxury tree house inspires everyone.
If you’ve been dreaming of your own tree house for a long time, you will find tips and design ideas here. You will not only inspire your children, but the entire neighborhood.
Choice of location
Before you build your tree house, it is important to choose a design that suits the garden and the trees. In larger structures, the load must either be distributed over several supporting branches or several tree trunks. The more stable branches or trunks are available, the larger and heavier your tree house can be. The branches should have a diameter of at least 20 centimeters and be firmly anchored in the tree – only then will they withstand the load. Hardwood such as oak, beech or maple is particularly suitable for building tree houses. Make sure to choose a healthy tree for long-term stability.
The height of your tree house depends on various factors. Attach the base of the tree house above head height. However, the platform should not be higher than 2.50 meters. This means there is no risk of hitting your head. At the same time, the risk of injury from falls is reduced. If your garden is repeatedly exposed to strong winds, we recommend a moderate construction height. Otherwise strong gusts could damage the tree house. However, if your garden is protected by trees, hedges or walls, you can place the base a little higher up. A horizontal base ensures the safety and stability of your tree house. To do this, attach the platform to as many branches, trunks or cantilever beams as possible.
Tips and Tricks
Do not build your tree house too close to the trunk. Because if the tree lacks space, its growth often suffers. If it continues to grow normally, branches and trunk can damage the tree house over time. You don’t have any trees in your garden? Then surprise your children with a playhouse on stilts instead. Before starting the project, ask the responsible authority whether a permit is required. By the way, if you should worry about building in lofty heights, we can reassure you: Many components of a tree house can be easily prepared on solid ground and then transported upwards by pulley.
A beautiful garden with attractive design elements such as a tree house increases the value of your property. However, not only in financial terms, but above all through the increase in quality of life. After all, there is nothing better than planning a project in a family network and then enjoying the fruits of the work together.
Build a tree house yourself – worth knowing
The first step in building a tree house yourself is to successfully find a stable tree. Often an old apple tree has suitable branches for a tree house for children between the ages of five and ten.
Ideally, the platform hovers about a meter above the ground. It should be secured by a railing at least 75 centimeters high that has no gaps that are wider than 10 centimeters. The construction of the access is particularly important, as this is where most accidents happen when the children run off to be the first up or down. To make it really safe, you’ll need to build a staircase to the tree house, or attach a ladder with a railing at a 60-degree angle. The ladder should have rounded rungs with a diameter of approx. 25 to 38 millimeters in order to offer the children’s hands optimal support.
The soil under a tree house dries up quickly and then becomes hard as stone. It makes sense to use sand, gravel or bark mulch at the foot of the ladder to ensure a soft landing. Young children also need constant supervision. The most important step in building a tree house is building a stable and level platform in the tree. Everything that comes after that is comparatively simple.
How to build the treehouse platform
Nail two planks (50 x 150 millimeters) on opposite sides of the tree. Align the planks horizontally. Use higher branches and a rope to temporarily suspend the board where it is to be attached. The frame of the platform does not have to be rectangular, but it has to be horizontal! Do not fix the frame of the platform with nails, but with large (10 x 100 millimeter) stainless wrench screws. The components should not be longer than 2.20 meters.
Nail two more planks (50 x 150 millimeters) at right angles to the first two planks. Check again whether the frame is horizontal. Danger! Do not stand on the frame until the struts are in place.
The base of the tree house
Build a frame with planks (50 x 150 mm) as shown in the picture. Pine, spruce or lark are particularly suitable for this. These types of wood are easily available in the hardware store and in the required sizes and lengths and are also affordable.
Stabilize the tree house
The corner and cross struts for the stable tree house are now missing. And this is how you saw and screw them together:
The best way to stabilize a tree house is to support the planks and beams with cross braces. After aligning the beam and strut, use the jigsaw to saw a notch in the beam and screw the two parts together. (see drawing above)
Saw the struts out of planks (50 x 100 millimeters) as shown here. Since every tree has a different shape, the struts must be cut individually to length.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to the floor in the tree house
So that the children can enjoy the tree house for a long time, the flooring material and clearances must be right. This is how the underground is built:
Many tree houses are too damp and therefore susceptible to pests and mold. If you do not build your tree house with watertight walls, windows and roof, it is advisable to install the floorboards at a distance of five millimeters. In this way, the water that gets into the house can also flow out again.
Attach intermediate supports (50 x 100 millimeters) in the frame, the distance should not be less than 40 centimeters anywhere. Don’t forget the trapdoor. Build a plank frame (50 by 100 millimeters) around the opening and lay the floor around it. Use construction plywood or scraps of boards of even thickness for the floor.
For the necessary safety of your children, scaffolding and walls are placed on the floor of the tree house. Read here how it works.
The height of a railing should depend on the size of the residents. You do not need to install the railing at a height of one meter if the tree house is mainly used by children. If possible, the battens and rungs of the railing should be placed on the inside of the posts. Otherwise the construction can fall outwards if nails come loose.
Walls can be boarded up horizontally or vertically. You can also use shingles or shuttering boards, but then you need to build a plywood substructure first; overlap the boards 40 millimeters so that rainwater can drain away. Half-height walls let a lot of light and air into the tree house.
Finally: the tree house roof
First attach the corner brackets, then the intermediate brackets. Nail laths (25 x 100 millimeters) to the support as a substructure for the roofing.
Wooden roofs should usually be covered to keep the rain out. Tar paper is usually enough for a tree house; you can expect it to last for several years. Permanent solutions are asphalt shingles or roofing material off the roll. A really elegant roof can be made with wooden shingles.
If there is enough space, add a few extras, such as a rope ladder, a climbing net or a trapeze swing and soon the tree house will be the most visited place in the garden by the children.
Never forget that safety is the top priority. Check the tree and house at least every two years.
Have you found a liking for a small retreat in the country? These books show you how diverse tree houses can be. In addition to important safety information and basic building instructions, you will find smart ideas for everything from simple tree houses to small castles that extend over several trees.
Castles in the air and rustic homes in mini format: from the small, tranquil tree house to rustic Tarzan huts – there is something for every adventurer here.
This book is dedicated to children and their (grand) parents. With the help of many drawings it is shown how simple and stable tree houses and huts can be built without spending a lot of time or money. With detailed step-by-step drawings of various tree house constructions and other small buildings that are interesting for children as well as a photo section in which self-made tree houses and huts are presented, as they can be found everywhere in gardens. They show how much leeway is possible in the execution of the building if the building is individual and situation-related.
If your child has since found a liking for garden life, this book offers many child-friendly suggestions for your little gardener. Children find it fascinating when the first little plants sprout from seeds that they have sown themselves or from cuttings that have been left and when they can harvest strawberries and lettuce themselves. Whether a beautiful rock garden or a fodder gourd for birds: Little gardeners learn in a playful and imaginative way how to handle soil, shovels and watering cans in over 35 projects. Easily understandable instructions, clear checklists and simple tips for handicrafts and games make it easy to introduce children to the garden and a responsible approach to nature in a playful way.