Remember your treehouse from your childhood? It was your own private space high up and away from the everyday adult world. Inside you could play, read, and eat forbidden snacks, as you gazed down over your domain with a lordly sneer. If you wish to create this oasis for your own kids or even an adult version for yourself, there are unique steps you can take throughout the year. Here's what you need to know for every season under the sun for building and maintaining your domain.
Believe it or not, your new treehouse year begins in the dead of winter. This is also the busiest in terms of preparation. Regardless of which state you live in, winter is the time most trees and vegetation are dormant. Because trees lose their leaves during this time of rest, you can get a better look at the structure of the trunk, branches and limbs of your chosen tree.
Which trees work best for a treehouse? Deciduous, mature healthy trees like oaks, sycamores, and tamaracks grow limbs at 90 degree angles. Trees with limbs that grow at a 45 degree angle are okay too, such as maples, walnuts and hickories.
Tree health is important, and you can check the trunk and roots to make sure they will hold your house safely. Look for a trunk without signs of past damage like large openings or visible healing wood. To check for a rotten hollow core, tap the truck with a 2x4 and listen for deviations in sound. Look for diseased wood and any fungus at ground level. Compacted ground or a driveway too near the tree may indicate root damage.
Clear any vegetation away from the trunk of the tree in preparation for building. Decide where in the tree to place your house and prune away dead and dying branches. You can also hire a professional, such as Pete & Ron's Tree Service, Inc., to help with pruning. You may have to remove healthy branches to accommodate your treehouse depending on its design. If possible, dormancy is also a good time to install bolts into the trunk and branches for the foundation of the house.
As spring approaches, finalize the design of the treehouse. The greater the detail in your design the simpler it will be when building begins. Order all your materials for construction, and any tools you may not already have.
Your tree is probably beginning to leaf out, so let construction begin! Finalize the floor foundation by building the floor platform. To test the load capability of the floor, add some weights and let them sit for two weeks – 300 pounds for a small, basic treehouse.
On the ground, build the wall frames and roof sections in small enough chunks that you can lift them easily and safely. Once the frame of the house is positioned on the foundation you can finish the treehouse. Tie a safety line around your waist in case you slip while you are moving around or hammering.
June - August
Finish any interior details if you're going all out on the treehouse. Otherwise, now is the time to relax and watch your kids enjoy your creation. Make them some lemonade and show them how to stash blankets, pillows, and other necessary items using a simple pulley system.
When your kids return to school in the fall, go hang out in their treehouse. Things look great from a treehouse when the leaves are changing color.
Check for any leaks that may have developed during summer by pouring a bucket of water over the roof. Use caulking to repair cracks and holes. Inspect all the support bolts and foundation for signs of weakness. Also inspect the tree for damaged wood or branches. Do a quick pruning to remove any suckers or shoots that could grow into the way of the treehouse.
Get rid of leaves, pinecones and any other debris from the roof and deck to protect the wood of the treehouse over the coming winter. Children can still play during good weather, but do not climb or enter the treehouse during storms. Take down the entrance ladder to discourage climbing in bad weather and over the winter.
Winter has arrived once more. Any ideas for building an addition to your treehouse? Let the planning begin