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For months, my kids have been asking me to build them a tree-fort. When I think of a tree fort I imagine a huge Oak tree with a lot of sturdy branches that could be used as a foundation. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything like that in my yard. I have two younger trees that are about 15-20 feet in high so I have not really considered my kids requests. But that recently changed. With a little imagination, I came up with a design for a deck that I would call a “castle” built around a very pretty Amur Maple that lives on a small hill in my backyard.
The kids loved the idea of having a castle to play in. But they also wanted it to have towers, a slide, a plank, and it’s own fairy garden (Because what castle doesn’t have a fairy garden, right?). I guess my idea of a simple deck was just not going to cut it. So to the drawing board I went.
I have a quick confession to make: I don’t really get into all of that CAD stuff. Sometimes, my “drawing board” is literally the back of a napkin. This time, the napkin worked. I came up with a design and after making a materials list I took a quick trip to my local lumberyard with a trailer and I was ready to get started.
Foundation: Your foundation requirements will be determined where you live. I live in Minnesota, where we can have 4 feet of frozen ground. Usually, I would need to dig further than this to build a real foundation, but for something this small, I just made it float on top of some cement blocks that were leveled in the ground.
Deck: You should use green treated 2 X 6 boards for any deck. In my case, I started by framing in the octagon by making one large rectangle that made two opposite sides, then I made two smaller squares that made two additional sides and centered them on the long sides of my rectangle. Finally, I cut angles on board that made the connecting the 8 points that had just been made so that when you look from the top, you have an octagon. I also added joists for support of the decking boards that would be added. This structure is held up by 4 x 4’s standing on the foundation. Finally, add the deck boards.
Walls: the walls and pillars are just green treated fencing with a coped top. For the pillars, I used screwed the fencing boards together using a 2 X 2 or a 2 X 4 in the corners to make a four-sided pillar. I used the interior 2X4 to fasten the pillar to the side of the deck. Then I screwed a board onto each pillar about two feet above the deck on each side that was going to be a wall. I wanted the walls to have a castle look to them, so I cut half of the fencing boards one length, and the other half about 8 inches shorter and installed them alternating each other.
Plank: The plank’s base is made out of 2 X 6’s that are cut at one end to give the plank the correct elevation change. You can see in this picture, we tied it into an existing patio. We cut 2 X 4’s with to make railing posts and then drilled holes into it to string rope for a railing.
Slide: This is just a simple slide. You can pick them up from many stores and bolt them right onto whatever base you like.
This project took about 15 hours of work for two people to build and the kids absolutely love it. They play on it every time I let them out.
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