DIY Outdoor Playset
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DIY Outdoor Children’s Playset (Way Better Than Premade Playgrounds)

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Build an outdoor treehouse and playset that is higher quality and cheaper than you can buy

If you have been following our blog, then you know that several of our projects have been redoing our outdoor space. It has been a few years now that we have tried to truly make our backyard ours with DIY projects and a contracted screened-in porch project. A DIY outdoor treehouse and playset was going to be the perfect addition to our backyard.

Why not just buy an outdoor playground for our backyard?

As we sat on our porch during our “stay at home” time, we knew we needed to add more to our outdoor space for our children. My son’s birthday was coming up and that was when we thought it would be the perfect time to buy an outdoor playset. 

However, after looking at all the treehouse and playset we came out with the conclusion that they were either too cheaply made or way TOO expensive. At the end of this post, I will list the cheaper outdoor playsets that we considered buying. 

However, the main ones my husband wanted to get were from places that don’t even list the prices in their catalogs (what does that tell you about price??!) Therefore, what does any DIY family do when presented with this problem, you decide to build your own DIY outdoor children’s playset. 

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here. *

DIY Outdoor playset

Factors to consider when building your own DIY backyard playground

How much do you want to spend? Pressure-treated lumber is not necessarily cheap.

Where will you be putting your playset?

How long do you want this to last? What age range do you want your playground to accommodate?

What safety features will you make to make sure that your DIY playset is safe?

What other accessories may you want to purchase?

Extra swingset accessories used

For our playground, we added a slide, telescope, pirate flag, steering wheel, climbing rope and climbing rock holds. In addition, we have a spot to add a swing or long rope to climb. I couldn’t believe we were able to order all of our accessories from Amazon.

Unfortunately, the slide (Olympus Wave Slide) that we ordered is currently not available on Amazon. This slide may or may not be in stock at Home Depot. Apparently a lot of people are trying to build their own playgrounds this year.

Supplies needed

Six (6) 4″ x 4″ x 16′ posts pressure-treated

2x6x16’ – pressure-treated

2x4x16’ – pressure-treated

2x10x16’-pressure-treated

1x6x8 – pressure-treated deck boards

18.00 bags of Quickcrete (bagged concrete) – 3 bags per hole/post

Exterior deck screws

Double head #16 nails

Any playground accessories you want to add

Full disclosure: All wood and lumber were delivered to our driveway from our local lumber store. Local lumber stores are a great resource for this and all other types of projects. Above, I have linked to the items at big box stores so that you are able to see the items specifically since our local lumber store doesn’t even a have website I could link to.

Tools needed

Shovel

Post Hole Digger

Wheel Barrow

4’ Bubble Level

Screw Gun

Circular Saw

Sledge Hammer

Tape Measure

Spud Bar

Garden Hoe (for mixing concrete)

Vice Grips

36” long nail stakes

6’ step ladder

How to construct an outdoor playground in your backyard

1. Choose footprint and size of your playset structure.

Factors to consider when design DIY playground

We decided to put ours between two trees for the shade

Ours is 8’ x 8’ ….this makes the least amount of waste – most bang for your buck in using 16’ long pieces

Our major limiting factor for height was due to the pre-made slide we bought off of Amazon. It is designed to be mounted 5’ off of the ground.

Sketch everything out and take the sketch to your local lumber store to bounce ideas off of them. Never hurts to have a second opinion

Note we did not apply for a local building permit. Each municipality has varying rules for structures like this. Please do your own research.

Our playhouse is 8’ x 8’

4’ x 8’ x 5’ off the ground (where the slide is) and has a second level two feet higher that is 4’ x 8’ x 7’ off the ground.

Due to the two levels our playhouse has six posts. If you decide on having one level you would only need four posts.

2. Layout post locations (at corners of structure). If you are having two levels, then you will need 6 posts, if you only are going to have one level for you “treehouse”, then you will only need 4 posts.

3. Measure the hypotenuse to make sure it is square (A^2 x B^2 =’s C^2).

4. Take a step back and make sure the orientation is how you want it.

Using bagged concrete to set posts

5. Use a shovel and a post hole digger to dig down below your areas frost line (36” to 42”) depending on the area for each post.

Post digging tip

Dig and set one post then cut an 8’ 2”x 4”. At the end of the 8’ 2” x 4” mark and dig for the next post hole (verify’s initial measurements).

With such a small number of holes to dig, a rentable electric auger from home improvement stores is not really needed. However, here is a link to rent one at Home Depot (because not everyone wants to do this manually).

6. Once the post holes are dug mix bagged concrete in wheelbarrow and pour in around post. Leave concrete at least 6”s below grade (below the existing grass) so new topsoil and grass can grow.

We used a similar post technique when we created our DIY raised garden boxes. We completed both of these backyard projects within weeks of each.

Mixing concrete

You will end up with an appx. 12” wide (diameter) hole for the post by the time you are done.

posts in ground

7. You will need to make sure each post is plumb by putting a 4’ level on it (in both directions). Plumb means that the post is level on a vertical surface. You want your posts straight!

8. The post will be appx. 12’ to 13’ out of the ground so you will need to “Kick” the post back to the ground once plumb (see above pictures).

Wood making foundation for playground

When you “kick” the post, it means that one (1) of the 4”x 4” x 16’ long posts will be 42”s in the ground (42”s down in the ground with appx. 12.5’ out of the ground) needs to be supported in two (2) directions until it can be attached, by additional lumber to the other to be set posts.

To do this you “kick” the post back to the ground on approximately a 45-degree angle. At the post you screw a 2 x 4 to it. At the ground level you put a nail stake into the ground and then attached the other end of the 2 x 4 to the nail stake with a nail to the stake.

9. Start with plumbing and setting one post. The posts have to be plumb at the ground level and at the top.

Man attaching 2 x 4 to posts

10. Once the first post is set, cut 2 x 4’s and attach at the correct dimension over to the next post at ground level and appx. 10’ off the ground. This will keep the structure square-based off of the first post.

Posts set for wooden playset

11. Once all posts are set, cut, and attach (screw) 2×10 board at the base (ground level) and at the height of your desired platform(s).

Backyard playground foundation

12. Once these boards have been attached the structure should be very sturdy. If not something is wrong.

Base of the first level of DIY playset

13. Once 2 x 10”s are attached to the base, cut and attach 2 x 6’s for the subfloor. The deck boards will go on top of the 2×6 subfloor.

Deck boards being attached to playset

14. Once the 2×6”s are attached, then screw down the deck boards.

DIY wooden step in swingset

15. If making two levels, you may need to consider building a simple step. We also adding a handle to help kids get easily up.

DIY wooden ladder on playground

16. After the deck boards are attached, you will need to determine what you want to be attached to your playset. You will need to consider where you may want something attached on the outside or inside of your structure.

Climbing rock wall with rope

17. We have a slide, DIY ladder built with 2 x 4s, and rockwall (See post about the DIY climbing rockwall here) coming off of one side. Additionally, we have a pull-up bar coming off the other side (another DIY project that we made).

Steering wheel in DIY playset

You (like us) can add a telescope, pirate flag, steering wheel, climbing rope and climbing rock holds. We even have a spot to add a swing or long rope to climb. I couldn’t believe we were able to order all of our accessories from Amazon.

Telescope toy for playset

18. Once you figure out how and where kids will be able to climb in and out (up and down) you will have to build a safety handrail in the other spots.

Attaching slide to wooden playset

19. When building a handrail, you need to consider building code. For handrail that means no space larger than 4”s can occur. We also added a 2 x 4 across the open area where the rockwall and slide are. This way kids could climb under, but hopefully will not fall out!

DIY handrail for backyard playground

20. Our playhouse has a top rail, mid-rail, and toe board (we are comfortable with this). Each parent needs to put serious thought as to the fall protection measure taken or not taken. Again, you may have to have a permit and meet your cities guidelines. (Always worth stating, we are not liable for your playset or treehouse design and you can see our full disclaimer here).

DIY backyard playground

Once all items are attached, you can truly enjoy your DIY playset! I know our children have already started to create many memories in our backyard.

Backyard playground with pirate flag

Other playhouse options to consider

Underneath the playhouse we currently have dirt or (as we call it) a mud pit. Our kids currently really like playing in the mud and dirt but…

You could put a ground cloth down and turn this area into a sandbox or have river rocks, etc.

The structure is tall enough and strong enough to add on a swing set set-up, tire swing or something like that off of it.

One day we may even add swings to the side where we currently have a board hanging off. I even love the idea of a climbing rope or dual swing. We will have to make sure it safe before we add that, hence why I am thinking a rope may be better.

I also saw this safety handle to go on the 2 x 4 above the slide. I am thinking we will add this soon! We also have plans to buy an outdoor fabric or canopy that could be attached to the tops of the posts.

Outdoor playsets or playgrounds you can buy

If after reading this, you might realize that there is just too much that goes into doing this as a DIY project. So here are some of the playsets we considered buying before deciding to make our own outdoor treehouse or playground.

Backyard swingsets to purchase

Cheapest or Economy Choice for Playset: Kidkraft Arborcrest Deluxe My sister-in-law has this one. Her kids have loved it, however, she thinks it will only last a few years.

Highly Rated Playset: Gorilla Playset (on Amazon) and you can also price compare the same set at Home Depot.

Best Bang for your Buck: Backyard Discovery Skyfort in Cedar (on Amazon) and here it is at Lowe’s

However, due to the time of year, some playsets are very hard to find in stock. Just another reason to try to build a playground in your backyard yourself!

What DIY projects have been so great for your family over the years! Follow us on Pinterest for more DIY inspiration.

We love that this outdoor playset will grow with our families for years to come! 

Hello! My name is Erin and I am a DIY nut. Currently, I live in Ohio with my beautiful family. I am an artist, teacher and lover of all things DIY. I hope this site inspires you to become a DIY nut!

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