If you or one of your friends had a tree house in their backyard when you were kids, then chances
are some of your best childhood memories are linked to it.
It was the place where you spent many long hours during the summertime, forging some of the
most cherished experiences of your life.
Now you’ve developed an interest in building your own tree house to provide your own children
(and perhaps future generations of your family) to play in.
“Here are five tips for making sure
your tree house is a sturdy structure
that lasts for years to come.”
1. Choose a strong tree
Basic common sense dictates that before you begin construction, you need to have a good, strong, sturdy tree. It needs to be a healthy tree that is neither too young nor too old. If it doesn’t have the proper strength, then it will pose a danger to anyone who is inside or near your tree house.
Similarly, you’ll need to do some tree trimming otherwise it’ll be hard to build around the branches, but this tree trimming guide can help get you started.
A professional arborist can be brought in to inspect your tree; good species to choose from include oak trees, maple, fir or apple trees. What you’re looking for in particular includes a strong, sturdy trunk, strong branches, deep roots, and freedom from fungus and other parasites that could cause the tree to become weakened over time.
It’s a good idea to study what type of pests could possibly invade the particular type of tree you’ve chosen and take steps to keep them away. Once you’ve decided what tree to use, you can move on to the next step.
2. Study your local ordinances
Don’t start any kind of construction project without first making sure that you’re in compliance with your community’s local rules and regulations. It would be a real shame to start work and drive nails into your tree only to discover later that such things are not allowed in your community.
It’s also a good idea to open up communication about your plans with your neighbors, especially if the tree house you create will be visible from other people’s homes. If you expect that it will be, ensure that the neighbors are okay with the idea of a tree house in your backyard. Failing to do so can open you up to complaints and possibly even lawsuits in the future. You’re more likely to convince your fellow homeowners that your project won’t be an eyesore if you’ve planned it properly, and make it into something that will impress them as opposed to a few crudely hammered together sheets of plywood. Take time to explain what a great idea your tree house is and how it will fit into the carefully planned community that you all live in.
3. Discuss your plans with your insurance agent
After discussing your plans with the neighbors, the next step in your plan should be to get in touch with your insurance agent. Make them aware of exactly what you’re planning to do and find out if your homeowners’ insurance covers it. If it doesn’t, then you may not be covered for any damage to your home that could potentially be caused by the tree house.
4. Create a detailed plan for your tree house
Many tree houses have been built without any sort of planning, simply by haphazard hammering of wood and nails into a big enough tree. However, if you’re planning to make sure you have a safe structure that will entertain your family for years to come, then you need to take the time to plan every detail of your tree house. Plus, this is beneficial when convincing your neighbors that it’s a good idea.
First, make sure the structure is lightweight. Building materials that are too heavy may not hold up very well, so stick to lighter materials for the construction. Of course you’ll also want to make sure that they’re extremely strong materials as this is an outdoor structure that will have to face the elements and it will need to hold up throughout every season.
The size of your tree house will depend on the diameter of your tree itself. If you want to use the standard 8 feet by 8 feet, you’ll need a tree trunk that’s at least 12 feet in diameter. Measure the diameter of your tree by wrapping a string around the trunk and dividing its length by pi (3.14). You can then begin the actual process of designing the tree house.
It might be helpful to create the tree house in a small cardboard model first, before you cut any wood or hammer any nails, in order to make sure you have the dimensions correct. You will also have to plan for tree growth when coming up for your design. Leave a good deal of space around the trunk of the tree so that growth will not damage the tree house. Count on the branches growing as well. It’s a good idea to have a tree trimming professional for this just so they’re cut exact and won’t grow back or harm the tree.
Before you begin construction you should already have the type of wood you’ll use, how the tree house will be accessed, what type of furniture it will have, how much the furniture weighs, and how you’ll get it inside.
5.Build your tree house to last a long time!
There are a number of ways you can ensure, once your tree house is built, it will last for years. Weatherproofing is a big part of that, so take care when you decide what paints you are going to employ.
Make sure there are no extraneous parts that can add weight to your tree house and use a small amount of large fasteners as opposed to many small ones (which can decay the tree).
“If you or one of your friends had a tree house
in their backyard when you were kids, then
chances are some of your best childhood
memories are linked to it.”
After it’s built, make sure you test it out! Make sure it’s safe and doesn’t have any protruding screws or nails and is actually capable of holding a large amount of weight.
About the Author
Aaron Sanders has worked in landscaping for 15 years and continues to be an asset to Mr. Tree Services. He firmly believes that your attitude determines your altitude in life.
Have you ever built a backyard tree house?
Did you have a tree house when you were growing up?
Share your tips, thoughts and comments with us.