Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gardening with Children: How to Build a Children's Playhouse (the Fort)

As a gardener with five children, I am always thinking of ways to make the garden a fun place to play. I had the idea of building a playhouse, or as my husband likes to call it, a fort.

When he was younger, my husband had a fort in the field behind his house. It was crudely built, but the four plywood walls, flat roof, and squeaky door was the center of play for many of the neighborhood boys. For our backyard, I wanted something a little more finished. seeing that the fort would be a focal point of the backyard.

First, we considered buying one of the playhouses we saw advertised in a gardening magazine, but these were too expensive. Next, we looked at some pre-built playhouses that you purchased and installed yourself. While these were less expensive, they looked too cute for our boys. Also, they were built for a flat property and would not work on our slope.

At this point, my husband decided to build one from scratch. We started doing some research for similar structures that we could modify, like the ones we found here:

These different plans provided some good ideas that we could adapt to our needs. Here are some of the unique aspects of our fort:

1. Our fort has a dirt floor to discourage the groundhogs in our neighborhood from nesting underneath.

2. Given the absence of a floor, the foundation of our fort is made of bricks and stones from our property that support the walls.

3. The walls of our fort are built at an angle to accommodate our slope.

4. The scale of the structure is child-sized: it is basically an seven foot cube with a five foot tall door opening.

5. The generous trim hides the less-than-perfect carpentry beneath.

6. We hung two lanterns on the front, merely for decoration.

The rest of the fort pretty much follows the standard recommendations for this type of structure, including a frame made of two-by-fours, walls made of hardboard (barn siding), and a roof made of asphalt shingle.

The entire project took about a month, mainly on weekends. The total cost of the materials was approximately $700. My husband did all of the work himself, except the cutting and installation of the walls which he did with a friend on a single afternoon.

In front of the fort, my son wanted "two round ball plants" a.k.a two boxwoods. On one side of the fort is a trellis with clematis growing and hollyhocks planted in a row.


Related posts: How to Build a Sandbox, Ten Tips for Planning a Children's Garden

1 comment:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

OOOoooooo. Husband gets extra points for this project.

I see here a potting shed and/or a room of ones own, after the children grow up. Good planning. :)

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