Make:’s Guide to Backyard Forts, Treehouses, and Other Fun Playspaces

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Make:’s Guide to Backyard Forts, Treehouses, and Other Fun Playspaces

Many of you reading this will likely have fond memories of building forts, treehouses, clubhouses, and the like when you were kids. My friends and I had a veracious appetite for such dwellings and built treehouses, underground forts, forts made from piles of firewood, and more. We once built an underground fort with a log roof that was deep enough to stand up in, was filled with regular living room furniture, and had electricity.

For a kid, building a fort is a perfect storm of (reasonably benign) mischievous behavior, a way of establishing your own space and identity away from your family, and an opportunity to flex some budding construction muscle. Of course, those were clandestine forts and structures in the woods that our parents didn’t know about. There are also the family-sanctioned backyard structures. Not as naughty as a rebel outpost you built with the friends, but having your parents in on it means a better build, a bigger budget, a safer structure, and it’s right there in your backyard. And such backyard playspaces aren’t just for kids. Who wouldn’t want a fancy treehouse to use as a writer’s retreat or other quiet time in a magical little space?

Here are some projects and ideas to think about if you have plans to build a playspace in your backyard this spring.

platformFive basic things to think about when planning on building a treehouse, fort, or other backyard space.

bedroomTree_1This is not an outdoor treehouse, but a magical indoor one, built by a doting dad for his young daughter.

This amazing treehouse was built by Ethan Schlussler, a cyclist from northern Idaho, and it includes a bicycle elevator. Who says kids get to have all of the fun?

bicycle-powered-treehouse-elevator2Here’s more about Ethan Schlussler’s bicycle-powered treehouse elevator

rocketTreeHouseI can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up with your own “working” spaceship in your backyard.

From our old pal Derek “Deek” Diedricksen of Tiny Yellow House comes this charming little backyard hideout, the Gypsy Junker Backyard Cabin

Geoff De Ruiter gives us a guided tour of his Raven Loft Treehouse. Besides the tiny home in the sky, complete with living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two sleeping areas, Geoff also built most of the furniture and used some clever tricks to make the living spaces appear bigger than they actually are.

51baa66cdbd0cb03d60008d1._s.fit_w.1280_h.1280_For Wendys and Peter Pans who never want to grow up, why not build a tiny house in the air constructed around a tree?

adriftinmymind_tree_ladder_01If you build a treehouse, you need a way of getting up to it, here’s a brief how-to on constructing rope and wood ladders.

pirate-shipIn this roundup of 7 Awesome Backyard Builds, we present additional epic backyard projects, from a MechWarrior treehouse, to your own personal monorail, to, yes, a backyard pirate ship.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
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