Childhood is a time of wonder and imagination, and playing outdoors gives children a place to explore worlds of their own creation without relying on digital entertainment sources. One perfect environment for kids to cultivate a vivid imagination is a private tree house. In a tree house, kids can pretend to be high-seas pirates, adventurous astronauts, culinary master chefs, or whatever else their hearts desire.
If your home’s yard features large trees with thick trunks, you can create an idyllic play place high in the treetops for your kids or grandkids. Safety is a priority with off-the-ground tree houses, so you need to choose a suitable tree. Use the tips in this blog to help you evaluate your yard’s trees and choose the perfect home for a custom tree house.
Consider Design and Use
Before you examine any trees, you should have a clear picture of what you want your tree house to look like and how you imagine kids playing in it. Most tree houses designed for children have a basic square or rectangular design. Those simple shapes make it easy to install walls on all sides. Four walls are an easy way to discourage children from climbing outside the designated play area.
Similarly, tree houses for children are safer when built close to the ground. Proximity to the ground makes traveling up and down from the house a simple journey for small hands and feet.
Within those basic design patterns, you have many options to personalize your tree house. You can add a porch with a high railing, a slide, a tire swing, or a staircase for easy access. You just need a strong tree to act as the anchor for the house.
Examine the Trunk
A strong, straight trunk is essential for a solid, safe tree house. You may want to start your search with the following tree types, which are traditionally suited for tree houses:
Expert tree house designer Alex Shirley-Smith recommends choosing a trunk with a diameter of at least 20 cm (8 in). That’s approximately the size of a standard pie tin. That diameter indicates the tree has reached the proper maturity to build a deep root base. A thick trunk and deep roots mean a tree isn’t prone to move too much with wind or other forces. And, make sure you choose a tree with a long lifespan. You don’t want your tree house to outlive the tree.
Give the Tree a Health Check Up
As you examine trunks on potential trees, be sure to look for signs that the tree is healthy. Your first clue will be continuous bark coverage. This indicates that the tree has no decay undermining its structural integrity.
Next, be on the lookout for tree diseases that weaken trees. Check for these signs that your tree has fungus or rot:
- Atypically small leaves or needles
- Excessive production of cones or seeds
- Early transformation to fall colouring
- Fungus growing on the trunk or branches
Some tree types are more susceptible to disease, so they aren’t usually good candidates for tree houses. Those types include sycamore and elm trees.
Finally, look for a tree without termites or other insect infestations. Bugs can hurt a tree’s strength as much or more than tree diseases. If you identify infected or infested trees, you should call a tree care company to remove them from your property so the problem doesn’t spread to other trees.
Inspect Limb Size and Distribution
After you examine the trunks, look at the limbs. You’ll want thick limbs placed at convenient locations and angles. The strongest limbs grow at almost exactly 90-degree angles from the trunk.
Sometimes the best tree house trees feature many more branches on one side than another. The extra space on the side with fewer branches becomes the perfect place for the interior of the tree house.
If no trees seem to have the perfect distribution of limbs for a tree house, call a tree care specialist. Tree specialists can examine your potential tree house homes. In many cases, they can trim excess limbs to free up adequate space for building a tree house.
Envision Potential Views
As you narrow down your list of potential trees, consider how close each tree sits to the edge of your property and your neighbours’ houses. Decide how much privacy your tree house should have from these nearby landmarks. Even if you’re planning a tree house that’s only a few meters off the ground, your neighbours probably don’t want its inhabitants having a clear view of their backyard.
At the same time, you should also try to envision the enhanced view kids playing in the tree house will be able to enjoy. Try to find a tree that will give kids some privacy so they can imagine themselves in another world while still allowing you to look in from the yard or through an indoor window.
Build the Perfect Tree House
Using the tips above, you should be able to find a sturdy tree on your property that’s well-suited to house a treetop home. Picking the right tree ensures that your tree house will stand for generations.
Once you select your perfect candidate, call a tree care service. Their technicians can confirm that you picked the perfect tree, and then shape your tree before you build the tree house. After they finish their trimming and pruning, you’re all set to build the tree house so your favourite children can spend hours enjoying it.