By Holly Crossley published
Are you looking for treehouse ideas? These days, many kids are simply glued to their screens (recent events not being much help) and the idea of playing in the garden can fall by the wayside.
Everyone knows that a dose of fresh air is good for the soul, yet sometimes kids just need a little more excitement to entice them outside. Well, when it comes to garden ideas for kids, a treehouse is certainly hard to resist!
As the team at Squirrel Design says, 'With young children of our own, we know too well the temptations of technology. Children systematically learn to operate a portable screen before they can even speak these days. We wanted to get their attention to the outdoors and the magical fun that can be had playing in the trees and sliding down a zip wire.'
'Through being outdoors we believe all the family can benefit hugely. Children engage with their environment and learn through energetic adventure, creating that magic we all thought lost to modern technology. With the blood pumping through our veins it makes everyone happier and healthier,' they add.
'It is not just the climbing and adventure that helps us. A tranquil spot away from from it all is peaceful for the mind and super in helping rebalance all of us.'
From climbing frames and walkways to nifty storage solutions and lookouts, we've gathered our favourite treetop havens to get you (and the kids) inspired, so keep scrolling to see more.
1. Up the fun with a slide
This pretty blue treehouse is a fabulous solution to curing your kids' boredom. With its neat white fence and vintage-style bunting it offers bags of picture-perfect charm and will be a lovely focal point to your garden.
A slide ups the fun factor and we love the addition of a pot full of flowers near the top. By placing a bench beneath, it doubles up as a sheltered seating spot, too. Your kids will be moving in in no time!
And if you want to add even more fun factor to your outside space, check out our best trampolines buying guide too.
2. Create a cool look-out
The Treetop Co make some seriously cool treehouses which they install using tree-friendly construction techniques. This one is 'The Orchard', 'a classic styled treehouse with a unique twist', and provides an awesome look-out point.
'The structure sits between a field maple and a poplar tree,' explains Luke Leppitt, the company's director. 'There are no permanent fixtures, nor have any holes been drilled into the tree. Instead the structure relies purely on contact with the tree.'
'To protect the bark and the phloem layer which carries nutrients to the crown, wherever timber comes into contact with the tree we use rubber as a buffer.'
3. Try turrets for a fairytale feel
'One of my earliest memories is of a warm summer’s day when my older brother built a tree house for me,' says Henry Durham Managing Director of High Life Treehouses.
'I stood on the lawn looking up with excitement and wonder. It was a simple structure, to say the least, but to me it was a castle. Built from wood 'reclaimed' from the garden, there was considerable risk getting up to it. I remember playing up there for hours and the elation of having a perch from where I could look down on the world but, most of all, I remember feeling so happy that I had a space that was all mine.'
A creation such as this is bound to conjure up such feelings in any child (or even, adult). With its turrets, walkway and path, your kids will see it as their own private castle and will enjoy it for years to come.
4. Create a magical vibe with decorative details
When it comes to treehouses, even the smallest details can make something just that little bit more special. The decorative window seen here, carved into the shape of a tree, certainly adds an extra touch of magic to this treetop retreat.
We love the wooden shingles too – and check out that beautiful roof! A slide, walkway and basket attached to a pulley finish the design perfectly, making it a great place to play.
5. Go for bold and bright colours
If you're after a bright and bold look then why not paint your treehouse in a host of vibrant hues? This primary-colour palette looks great rather than garish and gives a true sense of fun to a treetop hang-out spot.
Why not get the kids to help paint it too – a fun activity for everyone to get involved with, and it'll keep them busy for hours. Just make sure they hold on, and you take care of the tricky bits!
Check out our best exterior wood paint to get started.
6. Get creative for tons of kooky character
'We created a treehouse that is unusual but which still has charm,' says the team at Squirrel Design. 'We arrived at a combination of irregular shapes and features – the 'owl den'.'
Its plethora of features include arched windows, a blend of materials, a rope ladder and trap door, a climbing rope, and a basket on a pulley. The overall effect is a brilliantly eclectic look.
'Easier access is via the curving staircase up to the front tree house balcony,' they add. And who said kids should have all the fun? 'Another balcony area to the rear can be used for play or for those peaceful moments,' says Simon, and that goes for grown-up relaxation time, too! Consider adding one of best outdoor bean bags for the ultimate chill-out time with a view.
7. Add a porch for extra views
A porch can elevate any outdoor adventure. It creates a viewpoint, so kids can keep lookout for incoming ships, enemy troops, aliens, or whatever else, to attack with one of the best Nerf guns!
Kids will love the extra space and vistas – made even better by a slide at one end and a walkway at the other, as seen here. The wooden pillar details and semi-spiral staircase finish the design beautifully.
9. Double up as storage for the logs
For a clever use of space, why not use the area beneath a treehouse as storage? This ingenious solution is a great idea for logs, as will keep them dry. Plus, the look of them neatly piled high only adds to the overall aesthetic. We've got lots of other garden storage ideas for you to check out, too.
A simple swing will provide hours of fun. Plus, hanging a sheet of fabric along the window creates a quiet spot to read, or simply relax when drawn – or provides theatre curtains for a puppet play!
10. Pack with features for non-stop play
Load your treehouse full of play features and you're bound to keep even the most energetic kids preoccupied for hours. They might even be ready to sleep at bedtime, too (although we can't guarantee that).
'The idea for the back corner of this urban garden was to create a treehouse big enough for the kids to sleep in, with as many cool play features and climbing options as possible,' says Luke Leppitt of Treetop Co.
'As we started to build, a colourful creation took shape around the beautiful young holly tree on the left and lawson cypress on the right.'
'We laid an assortment of monkey bars, wooden loops and hanging ropes so the kids could scale the entire sub-structure without ever touching the floor,' Luke says. 'The balustrade is a combination of riven and stag oak, which gives the railing its wriggly nature.'
'Accessible only from inside the treehouse is a rocket slide which shoots out of a secret side door.'
To get even more action-packed activities in, why not take a look at our best climbing frame picks, too?
12. Go big and grand for serious adventures
If you have the space, then why not go all out for your treehouse? This gorgeous design spans across two trees with walkways and multi-levelled lookouts, whilst the house itself sits proud and tall.
Complete with tyre swings and shuttered windows, it's a treetop sanctuary for all to use and will be sure to keep kids entertained.
13. Add a rickety rope bridge
Adding a rope bridge will add a serious sense to adventure to a treehouse. Your kids will soon be precariously trekking across lava, ravines, or rivers full of crocodiles in a bid to get to safety!
With the characteristic wobble, it will add loads of laughs and definitely up the excitement. Don't forget to provide another means of access, for the slightly less hardy explorers!
How much does it cost for a treehouse?
The cost of a treehouse depends on a number of factors, as they are generally built bespoke to fit the trees and space available.
If you're pretty handy at DIY, it is of course possible to build your own treehouse. You will need to be confident in your skills to ensure it's sturdy and entirely safe for your children to use. For anything other than a basic platform design, the likelihood is you'll want to call in the experts.
Initial consultations for a bespoke design tend to be free of charge – this is where a company will come out and decide how to make best use of the space and find out what your needs are, as well as discuss the overall look.
It goes without saying that building a treehouse takes a lot of skill, as not only do they need to look great, they also need to be extremely safe for kids to play on. Therefore, it is no surprise that prices can start at the £10,000 mark for a bespoke enclosed treehouse.
As the team at Squirrel Design explains, the more exciting features, the more the overall cost. For instance, a fully enclosed treehouse with rope walkway, tree platform, and zip wire could cost more like £20,000.
'Higher spec tree houses with full utilities and more sophisticated finishes will be from £45,000 upwards,' they add. 'Alternatively, a covered platform with accessories (e.g. ladder, button swing, rope ladder) could be from around £5,000.'
In the US, a basic kid's treehouse or platform can cost between $8,000 to $15,000, whilst high spec options can cost more, says the team at Tree Top Builders. It all depends on multiple factors such as size, location, number of platforms, and added accessories.
Can you build a treehouse without a permit?
When it comes to needing a permit for building a treehouse, it depends. 'There are officially certain stipulations that can apply to treehouses and create the need for planning,' explains the team at Squirrel Design.
In the UK, these include building in a conservation area, when roof ridges are higher than four metres, or when they're less than 20 metres from a highway. Although Squirrel Design happily discuss any issues with their customers, they do recommend that customers check their local planning office if they have any doubts. 'Neighbours are often the greatest consideration that you have to take,' they add.
The team also advise that planning permission, if needed, can take a number of weeks to process. So, it is worth factoring this into the overall time frame. Some treehouse building companies will help customer's through the process – Squirrel Design for instance will put all the correct planning documents together for a fee starting at £150, or offer the services of a planning consultant for a fee starting from around £450.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
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