How to Build a Treehouse for Fun & Exercise

How to build a treehouse for exercise and fun

We can learn so much from children, especially the importance of running, jumping, and climbing. Children do these things naturally and as adults, many of us lose the ability to perform many of these functional movements.

Why Build a Treehouse?

Climbing is one of the most functional and useful movements we can do, but statistically, most adults can’t do these movements anymore. Could you climb a 20 foot rope right now? What about a 15 foot climbing wall or a fire pole?

My children are still naturally able to climb, and helping them keep and improve this ability was a priority for my husband and I. We saved up and build a treehouse that would provide a place for exercise, climbing, and creative play (the children know all of these activities as “play” or “fun”).

The result was a month-long project that involved the help of grandparents (and the kids), a lot of wood and natural wood stain, and the creation of a treehouse that the kids (and adults!) love. Every aspect of the treehouse, from the zip line to the slide to the monkey bars is strong enough for an adult to use.

Is it Risky?

Obstacles don't have to stop youSome aspects of our treehouse would be considered risky. The zipline starts at a height of 12 feet. The climbing wall is at least that high and they could potentially fall from 8 feet or higher in a number of places. We’ve minimized the potential for them to get seriously injured, but I don’t mind that there is some risk involved.

There is evidence that the over-safe playgrounds we’ve created have a negative effect on our children and that not having this risk is stunting their psychological development.

…the more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves. If you never let them take any risks, then I believe they become very prone to injury. Boys should be allowed to climb tall trees and walk along the tops of high walls and dive into the sea from high rocks… The same with girls. I like the type of child who takes risks. Better by far than the one who never does so. -Roald Dahl

Expensive?

We consider this treehouse an investment in our children’s health and I love that it is a place where they can spend hours of quality time and make memories.

It wasn’t cheap to build but it was definitely in the same price range as buying a pre-made “safe” play structure that many families have in their backyards (but with a lot more features). We built it strong enough to hold all of our children even when they are teens (in fact, we’ve had 8+ adults up there at once).

The treehouse also encourages my kids to play with each other, and seeing them bond is priceless to me.

We saved and budgeted and made this a priority for them.

How to Build a Treehouse at Home

The goal of early childhood educationThe deck of the treehouse is 9×16 and supported by a huge pine tree and six 6×6 boards. One side is a climbing wall and a climbing rope that goes to the top of the enclosed clubhouse inside. The deck of the treehouse is 7 feet tall.

On the deck, there is an open area with a railing where the children can play, and a 7×8 enclosed clubhouse area where they can build forts, have camp outs, and play outside even if it is raining. There is a 9 foot speed slide that comes out of the enclosed building.

The zip line attaches to the pine tree and goes to another tree that is over 150 feet away. To use the zip line, the children have to climb up, hold on to the zip line, ride it to the other tree, then run the 150+ feet back to the treehouse for the next person go. They typically do this for an hour or more a day (great exercise).

Under the deck of the treehouse are metal monkey bars, a set of rings/trapeze bar, a cargo net for climbing, two hanging chairs and a hammock. The kids spend time here relaxing and reading.

Treehouse Building Supplies

Take the (virtual) tour here:

Do your kids have a treehouse? What physical activities do you encourage for them to stay fit and active? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Love the tree house. My husband and kids built one with some used wood we had. Theirs is a two story. Not finished yet but hopefully soon. So far I have found some neat extras from hearthsong.com like zip lines and other really cool stuff. Love that website for the kids.

  2. Wow, this is such an amazing idea, your right it is definitely an investment but it’s certainly something I would have loved as a child! Love the blog, keep up the awesome work

  3. Would love to build a tree house like that! Sadly, the pictures are either covered with words or from strange angles, which makes it hard to understand how it is actually constructed. Do you have a plan available?

  4. How. Cool.

  5. Oh my goodness! What I wouldn’t do to be able to build this for my son and future children! So much fun and good exercise!

  6. I definitely fell off my zip-line we had as a kid and broke my arm. Worth it?? Absolutely. 🙂

  7. Amazing! This is now on our to-do list for next spring. I’m interested in the natural stain – what brand did you use and where did you buy it? I’m in Canada, so it might not be available here, but I haven’t been able to find many nontoxic ideas.

    Thanks!!

    P.S. your blog is basically my handbook on life 🙂

  8. Wow, this is great! I want to build a treehouse now and I don’t even have kids!

  9. This is truly amazing, thank you so much for sharing!

    Any chance you can video tape the entire house so we can understand more how elements talk to other elements? or maybe more pics? we would really like to have something like this for our kids!

  10. so awesome!!

  11. Fantastic Katie! You guys are amazing with your fantastic ideas! I want one of these for sure and I want to go on it too! I know you mentioned you didn’t have a plan as you did it as you went, but would love it if you could draw up a plan of what you ended up with as a template as I’m sure every detail was well thought through by you and would love to see more details on this. Guessing you put mulch underneath from the pics for extra safety too?
    Thanks for your blog and creativity! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Keep it coming!

  12. Treehouses are the best! I so think I could live in one…especially the ones Pete Nelson makes on Treehouse Masters.

  13. Wow! What an awesome tree house! I love the descriptions, but can we see more pictures (of the zipline and speed slide to be precise)? Maybe it’s just me, but I definitely take my inspiration visually.

  14. I want to have kids now, just so I can encourage my husband to help me build this!!! Great job!

  15. I’m so excited that you shared this because building a similar treehouse is on our to-do list this Fall! This encourages me to think long-term and build a treehouse that our littles can grow into. Thanks!

  16. Very cool! Where are the monkey bars?

  17. This is going in my “for when I have kids” folder. LOVE IT!

  18. Hello Katie! I love this article on building a tree house for and with your family. I was wondering if I could use the link to this article on my new blog about Christian Family Living.

    • You can link to this post and attribute it to me, but my articles cannot be copied in their entirety to another post.

  19. Katie- sending you a big big hug for all your work! so many posts I´m learning from, so many made me smile, more curious, interested in new things, pushed me to try new ideas- congrats, you´re doing such a great job, keep posting!

    pd. totally loving the treehouse idea!!

  20. Wow. I too would’ve wanted a tree house like this as a kid.

  21. Hi Katie, your blog is my ideal way of life, building a tree house with my kids was and is still a project that I want to do next summer. As others have already commented, is it possible to send a detail picture? I love it

  22. This is totally awesome. If I may ask – , I’m an avid follower of your blog, so I’m wondering, how do you have the time to do all of this? It’s seriously amazing. And, do your kids know that you are supermom? I couldn’t imagine finding the time to manage a household with this much care and love (and organic/natural positive solutions), and then, not to mention how you then pass on all of this information to others to help them. You are truly an inspiration.

  23. I love this treehouse! We are using it as our inspiration and hope to build something similar this spring. I was wondering if there were any changes you would make if you did it again? Something you would add or take away? My kids have been watching the video and have each picked a different feature they are saving their money for! Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

  24. Wow! This is so awesome! the kids and I have been wanting to build a treehouse and I love this idea, there out growing there metal swing set /slide / glider/ and tetter totter and I was looking for ideas! This ones way up there!!! Thank you!

  25. I think that tree houses are for kids!

  26. I think that tree houses are for great for kids to just be themselves and relax!

  27. Did you build the playhouse yourself or did you hire? How much was it in total?

    • We built it. I don’t remember the exact amount but I think it was under $2k…

      • Katie,
        I love your tree house! Do you know if all accessories were included in the total cost of 2 K (slide for example)

      • What did you use under the tree house? We are looking for something safe in our backyard and I’ve recently read the recycled tires can be toxic.

          • Thanks! Where did you find organic mulch??

  28. What kind of Cushing did you put at the base of the rock wall & how deep was the base. I have acquired 2 -8ft rock walls and wanted to put them outside. Plus I have already bust my shoulder falling my kids swing set. Want to keep the ER visit low.

  29. This is AWESOME! Great design and looks SO fun! We hope to build something similar in the near future. One question: did you use pressure treated wood? Thank you for sharing!

  30. Did you use purchase a plan or make your own plans?

  31. We are very interested in recreating your tree house for my children. Do you know the dimensions of the entire upper floor of the treehouse?

  32. Wow! What all you built is virtually identical to the list I just made of everything I want to build for our kids (six boys!) Monkey bars, fireman’s pole, zip line, slack line, climbing ropes and net, swings, slide, climbing wall, fort/playhouse/treehouse, and I also have a seesaw on my list. I love to build things and really look forward to giving our boys a bunch of fun stuff to climb and play on. We found our dream place in the country, so we are very blessed to be surrounded by nature’s playground, but I still want to give them something similar to what you built. Great job! And, congratulations on your new baby! We have a new one, too!

  33. Where did you buy or how did you make the fire mans pole? We’re looking for one that allows a heavier weight load than the playground ones I find online. Thanks

    • It’s a pipe that we found on Craigslist…

  34. I like your ideas, but can’t find the plans? What did I miss?

    • We didn’t have any actual drawn out plans for it…