For many people some of the best childhood memories involve a treehouse. If you had one when you were a kid, you can probably clearly recall the day you helped build it, the texture, shape and vast size of the tree that housed it, and the long list of games you played from that treehouse with your friends. There’s something just so innocent and exciting about having a treehouse, a place you get to call your own where your imagination can absolutely run wild. If you have children and want them to have memories just like this someday, you’ll have plenty of options. You can always hire professionals to install a treehouse, but there’s just something about doing it yourself. Want to get that started but unsure of the first steps? Here are five tips for building a treehouse in your backyard.
First and foremost, you’ve got to pick the right tree. This is an obviously crucial step. The stronger the tree, the longer the treehouse will stand in your yard. You also have to make sure it is sturdy enough for your little ones and the neighborhood kids to enjoy. Pick a tree that’s large at the bottom, with a strong root system. You also don’t want to choose a tree that’s particularly old or very young, as it won’t have the right support in place. The best types of trees for a treehouse are maple, apple, oak or fir. If you’re unsure of the varieties, consider bringing in an arborist to help you get started.
Even though a treehouse is a fairly simple construction process, take the time to make sure you are following the rules of the local ordinances. There might be some regulations you need to follow, or even a permit you’ll need to secure before getting started. In some areas the trees are actually protected, and you won’t be able to build on certain varieties. You should be able to find all of the information you need online through a quick search.
Now it’s time to get down to designing. A treehouse can really look like almost anything. The most basic versions include a simple floor and a ladder to reach it. But more complex constructions are full-fledged houses, with rooms, ceilings and even decks for viewing the neighborhood. You can hire a pro to handle the design, but give it a shot yourself first. It’s probably a good idea to make a model out of cardboard or wood before moving on to the real thing. This will help you figure out any issues with your design before you invest in all of the materials. Just remember that the tree will continue to grow after you build the house.
Although the type of tree is a crucial piece of the longevity of your treehouse, the support system is just as important. There are three basic methods you could choose from, and you’ll need to make that determination before the building process can begin. There’s the post method, which will include laying supports in the ground around the tree. Then there’s the bolt method, which will see you actually bolting the supports into the tree itself. This is probably the type of treehouse you grew up with. The most complicated but also the most elegant method involves suspending the house with a system of cables. You’ll need a particular design for the suspension method to work, and it won’t be ideal if you’re building a heavy structure.
Finally, consider how the branches of the tree will impact the design of your treehouse. You might choose the best tree for a tree house on your yard and start building, only to find that the complex branch system renders your design impossible. You can cut those branches, but that could damage the tree. Is it possible to include the branch system in your design? Can you frame around them, or actually add them to the structure? You’ll need to figure this out before you get very far, and you won’t be able to make that determination with your scale model.