Children are always fascinated with digging and playing in the dirt. In fact, this is one of the most memorable activities that define childhood in most parts of the world. Therefore, instead of having a conventional backyard mud pity, you should consider constructing a sandbox. Easy to dig up with plastics, free of debris, and self-contained, a sandbox can keep your little ones occupied for many hours.
So, do you want to know how to construct your own backyard sandbox? First, gather materials, including pressure-treated cedar/plywood boards, galvanized deck screws, construction adhesive, marine-grade rope, and kid-safe sand. Some of the tools you will need include a tape measure, hammer, clamp, and a drill. Start by building the sandbox frame, then carefully cut out the bottom and the cover. Attach the corner and bottom braces, add cover handles, and fill your sandbox with kid-safe sand.
This post teaches you how to provide your kids with fun by learning how to construct a simple sandbox in your backyard. Apart from the tools and materials, all you need is some little space in your backyard, a free weekend, and basic DIY carpentry skills to accomplish this task.
Planning Your DIY Sandbox
Before you start building the sandbox, you need to brainstorm on different ideas and form concrete plans beforehand on how you will approach the project. Proper planning will ensure that your project runs smoothly and doesn’t consume a lot of time.
Pick an ideal spot in your backyard with sufficient space for the finished sandbox. For instance, you will need approximately 81 square feet of space if you are planning to build a nine by nine-foot frame. Basically, the amount of available space in your backyard will determine the size of your sandbox.
Here are some of the things you need to consider before you start the project:
What kind of wood to use?
Take time to establish the best kind of wood that suits your needs. If you are building the sandbox for the long-term, consider using cedar, which is durable and weather-resistant.
However, if you plan to have the sandbox for only a few years, then you can use softwood or hardwood boards, which are less expensive but don’t last long, like cedar. If you are looking for something in between, treated lumber becomes a good option.
The most critical thing you need to do is check the wood details to ensure it is safe for use around human beings, plants, vegetables, and pets.
Sun or shade?
The next thing you need to decide on is whether to construct the sandbox in sun or shade. Constructing a sandbox in full sunlight means that your kids will be exposed to UV rays when playing while constructing it in a shady spot directly under a tree may force you to cut a lot of roots when digging.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to look for a spot that receives considerable shade from nearby trees or the house. Just make sure you are constructing the sandbox in a strategic place where you can easily keep an eye on the children while they are playing.
When planning the sandbox’s overall size, consider any toys that will go into it and make some room for your kids’ friends, too. You should also consider how much sand you will need for the project. You can always reduce the size of your sandbox if need be.
Preparing the sandbox site
Once you have decided where you want to construct the sandbox in your backyard, take time to measure, mark, and prepare the area accordingly.
Preparation involves clearing the area of any obstacles and bringing the necessary tools and materials on site. Prepare a checklist of the requirements and make sure you confirm that you have got everything needed before you embark on the actual construction.
Constructing the Sandbox
Once you have confirmed that everything is good and you are ready to go, follow the steps outlined below to build your sandbox:
Step 1: Cut the wood
The timbers that make up the walls of your sandbox will most likely butt end-to-side at the corners. To establish how long your timbers have to be, subtract 3½ inches, which is the true width of a 4×4 timber, from the actual length you need on each side.
Using a circular saw, carefully cut the timbers to the exact dimensions you have established. You need three pieces of timber for each side of the sandbox.
Step 2: Laying out the sandbox perimeter
Once you have the timbers ready, arrange four of them in the sandbox outline. Make sure you are pushing each timber’s end firmly against the next timber’s side to end up with an enclosed square.
Using a conventional spade, carefully mark the sandbox’s outline on the ground by cutting through the turf both outside and inside the loose-laid timber’s perimeter.
Step 3: Digging out the center of the box
Using a spade, dig down approximately six inches within the exact outline of your sandbox. Once you have dug the six inches, get rid of the soil, and add a 4-inch wide and 1-inch deep layer of kid-friendly sand inside the perimeter of the hole.
To make your work easier, make sure the spot you choose for installing your sandbox is level. If the ground isn’t level, start digging at the lowest point until you hit your target depth.
From there, continue digging the rest of the perimeter hole, trying your best to stay level within the target depth.
Take repeated measurements from the level string to every point of the perimeter hole to ensure everything is level. You may be required to add, remove or tamp soil in some parts.
Step 4: Lay the base course of your sandbox frame
Carefully position the first course of your timbers on top of the sand. Be sure to push a framing square in each corner of the perimeter and adjust your timbers accordingly until they are perfectly square.
Use three-inch decking screws to hold the corners in the square position. Use a sled and approximately four-foot level; tap each timber down into the sand layer until it is 100% level.
Step 5: Positioning the second course
When the first layer of timbers is in place, and everything looks good, carefully remove the braces in the corners and lay the second course of timbers on top of the base course. Arrange the second-course timbers in such a way that they overlap at the corners in opposite directions from the first course you had.
This arrangement will help you to achieve a lapped pattern. Using a drill, carefully drive six-inch screws through the top course into the base course timber every three feet all-round the perimeter. This is to hold everything in place.
Step 6: Line the box with landscape fabric
You now need to lay landscape fabric along the inside of your sandbox. Allow it to cover the bottom layer timbers and slightly overlap the second course of timbers. Push the landscape fabric against the edges into the corners of the sandbox.
Step 7: Laying the third timber course
It is now time to lay the third and final course of timbers on top of the second course. Make sure the third-course timbers overlap second-course timbers in opposite corners as well.
Fasten them to the second course with timber screws at intervals of three-foot the same way you did with the second-course timbers. Trim the excess landscape fabric that may be hanging over the outside of the box.
Step 8: Fill the sandbox with sand
Fill the interior of your sandbox with kid-friendly sand and take time to dig-in. Your sandbox is now ready for use!
Covering the Sandbox
Covering your sandbox when it is not in use is critical because it keeps the sand clean and dry. Use plastic tarps to cover it because they are relatively cheap to acquire.
You should also try to put a five-gallon bucket upside down in the middle of your sandbox to allow water to drain off of the tarp and stop it from sagging.
You can also use a metal screen or plastic lattice to cover it. Some people even use wood to cover their sandboxes, which is still okay. The primary purpose of the cover is to keep the sand dry.
Nothing defines memorable childhood moments like summertime and sandboxes. A sandbox in your backyard presents your little ones with an incredible opportunity to learn a wide range of fascinating things and interact with their peers.
It is a place where they can have a lot of fun and let their imaginations run free. While building a sandbox may seem like a difficult task, it is easy and can be done in a couple of hours over the weekend when you are free.
We hope you found this post educative and practical. It is now time to step out and implement what you learned here. Building a sandbox for your little ones will not only bring you great satisfaction, but it will also make you a hero to your children!