Tuesday, 27 August 2013

DIY Sandbox Beneath a Raised Deck

Finally after a few weeks of zero project progress we have completed a task! And is it ever a doozy. Already it has become our newest family hang out spot.

If you stopped by last Friday you already know what I am talking about. If you missed it, swing back and get caught up. The before and after is a significant improvement if I do say so myself.

The space under the back deck, which was once an embarrassment and eye sore for our back yard neighbours, has come a long way since last week. The entire family is delighted with the results: My plan came to life as imagined. Roberts handiwork shines. Finley has a safe yet still dirty spot to play. And Moe no longer gets his rope tangled in the mountain of rocks.

Overall it was a simple solution. With a little planning, a few hours of manual labour, and a handy helper Finn now has a large sand/stone box to play in for years to come.

As you can see there are still a few cosmetic jobs remaining. Fertilizer and grass seed will be planted later this week so that the space will have a cleaner finish by next year. Fingers crossed. And the box itself needs to be stained the same colour as the deck but the wood will have to weather for a year so that will be a next summer project.

Originally this area was covered with large pointy gravel rock that was less than ideal for a child's play area. It is actually the same gravel that makes up our driveway and for most untrained feet it is a bad place to be caught without shoes. Unless you are blessed to inherit unattractive but tough callused feet such as I.   

Once the box was built, Robert and Pops solved that issue with a truck load of pea gravel that is a much better choice for tiny hands, feet, and bums. I believe it is actually what most school yards are filled with. We opted to do the pea gravel rather than actual fine sand because we didn't want the added expense of refilling each year. Sand would inevitably wash away even though we lined it with the garden fabric to help prevent weeds and contain the soil.

But all hope is not lost for those of you adamant about having a fine sand option. I hear yeah. Mr. Crab is a great solution. It will be much more feasible to refill him a few times each summer season and the sand can be kept dry with his cover. 

As far as what works for us, once the sand is low in Mr. Crab I will be washing him out and refiling him as a water option. Gravel of any kind and water are Finley's favourite toys in life. If the fine sand option is missed down the road I will have Robert build in a lined corner unit with a cover to house it.

There are countless ways you could go about building the box itself. Believe me, we went through all of them. *I came up with this idea originally. Once sharing it with Rob he was on board but had to come up with at least a dozen alternative approaches that were his. You know, so he could be right. But in the end this original idea is what worked the best {Bazinga}. 

The boxes around the cement frames make me feel more at ease with little ones playing. They also just look nice, you know? Then the offshoots are anchored on the box and a few pegs dug into the ground. Then the top board is added to finish it off. 

This style offers seating along the entire edge of the box. Comfortable enough for adults and kids alike. And of course, it is a great spot for piling rocks!

Finn has made himself right at home in his new play zone. That is coming from one happy Momma!

Even John Deere seems content with his new digs!

This was our damage:
  • Pressure Treated Lumber {$170}
  • Outdoor Screws {$10 with extra}
  • Truck Load of Pea Gravel {$40}

This may sound costly. Believe me, at first consideration it did to me too. But after evaluating how much a small store-bought sandbox costs, years of sand bags, the expense of lawn upkeep from hot spots the plastic box creates, and the benefits of a longterm investment done upfront while Finn is just old enough to start playing we felt the pros outweighed the cons. 

Is this DIY something you would consider a good investment? Can you see little ones enjoying themselves here at play? Any thoughts on how to go about it differently? I'd love to hear from you!

Chat soon.
I linked up at A Bowl Full of Lemons & The Gunny Sack


  1. What a great idea! It looks really great (and sandboxes usually don't look so great...)! I'm hosting a Wall Decal giveaway that you should enter! http://homecomingmn.blogspot.com/2013/08/wall-decal-giveaway.html

    1. Thanks Kayla!
      I stopped by your blog and took a little looksy around and joined in on the fun giveaway! Thanks for the invite.

  2. Elaine MacDonald27 August 2013 at 16:52

    Awesome Job! Perfect spot for little Finley!

  3. Looks great - except for the little dude's hat. :-O


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