Building a treehouse is a fun and challenging project for the whole family, but it also requires some careful planning. Otherwise, you can run into safety risks, as well as damage the health of your tree. If you’re ready to build a treehouse, this article will help you make the most important decision— selecting the best tree.
Species of Tree
When considering your options to build a treehouse, remember you need a tree with deep roots and dense wood to hold your structure in place and withstand strong winds. Some species are simply more prone to having weak forks and brittle branches. In general, look to deciduous trees like apple, oak, or maple. It’s easy to recognize deciduous trees because, unlike evergreens, they shed their leaves in the colder months.
Ready to Build a Treehouse? Safety Comes First
While it depends on the design and its location in the tree, a trunk diameter of 12 inches or greater is the suggested starting point. Of course, another possibility when building a treehouse is to support the load between two (or even three) trees, instead of one. This would allow for smaller minimum diameters, especially if you select a tough species.
To determine diameter use a pliable fabric measuring tape, or even a piece of string. First, measure the circumference where you intend to build supports, then divide this figure by pi (3.14) to find the diameter. Remember, the size of the tree will ultimately limit the size of your treehouse.
If I Build a Treehouse, Won’t it Damage the Tree?
Eventually, a tree will compensate for the extra weight on its frame, but in the first few years, it’s most vulnerable during windy storms. Make sure you choose sturdy but lightweight materials that will hold up against the elements. Nails and screws just aren’t strong enough to be used for major supports and can cause health problems for the tree. Additionally, cables and ropes slice through bark. The trouble with these exposed punctures is that they provide an entry point for infections. For fixing supports it’s best to use a single large bolt that’s fitted properly into a drilled hole, but this isn’t a guide on the actual practice of building a treehouse, so it’s important for you to do your own research.
Getting a Professional Inspection
One common mistake homeowners make when building a treehouse is they forget the tree is alive and needs room to grow. To ensure you don’t overlook anything, and your treehouse lasts for years to come, it’s best to have the tree inspected by an arborist before you begin to build. Our trained professionals can help you assess your trees for any hidden signs of weakness that might put your treehouse at risk. We love a good DIY project. Please contact us at (925) 233-6877.