How to build a tree

DIY Treehouse Ideas and Helpful Building Tips

Advice and tips for building, attaching and furnishing your home in the treetops. Learn how to build a treehouse from experienced builders.

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Maremagnum/Getty Images

Where Should You Build a Treehouse?

When thinking about treehouse ideas, take stock of the trees in your yard. Choose a healthy, long-lived hardwood for maximum support, with load-bearing branches at least eight inches in diameter (larger if the species is a softwood). The best trees include maple, oak, fir, beech, and hemlock. It doesn’t need to be too high, just high enough so nobody bumps their head when walking underneath it.

Does building a treehouse seem like biting off more than you can chew?

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Photo courtesy of Sean Milroy

Keep Weight and Stability in Mind

While it’s easy to get carried away with cool treehouse ideas, building a house in a tree brings with it certain physical limitations. Here are some structural things to keep in mind while designing your DIY treehouse:

  • Build the platform as close to the trunk as possible, and add diagonal bracing for extra strength to support uneven loads.
  • Put the load over the base of the tree, not on one side.
  • For heavy tree houses, consider spreading the weight among several trees.
  • A tree house will act like a sail in strong winds, adding a large load to the tree’s roots. In high-wind areas, build your tree house in the lower third of the tree.
  • When building on one main trunk, level the main platform by cantilevering the beams and supporting them from below.

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Don’t Restrict Tree Growth

  • Leave gaps around the tree.
  • To accommodate tree movement and growth, allow gaps around any branches or trunks that penetrate the tree house.
  • Don’t constrict branches with rope, straps or wire. This can strangle the tree.
  • Add spacers between the beams and the tree to allow movement.
  • Use extra-long large bolts. This leaves most of the shaft exposed so you can mount items on the ends and lets the tree grow over the shaft.
  • Allow a two-inch gap around the tree if it passes through the floor and a three-inch gap if it passes through the roof (see photo).

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How To Level a Treehouse Floor

To keep a large tree house stable, center the load over the trunk and spread the weight among several branches.

It’s much easier to build the rest of the structure if the floor is level and can support the entire weight of the tree house. Consider these methods when generating DIY treehouse ideas:

  • Lay beams across the branches and shim until level.
  • Run the beams between trunks of different trees.
  • Cantilever the beams out from a single trunk and support them from above or below.

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Build Sections on the Ground First

It’s easier and safer to fabricate the main sections on the ground and then hoist them into position. If branches penetrate areas of the tree house, complete the construction up in the trees.

“I assembled the platform and house on the ground, then disassembled them,” said expert Bob Lackey. “After attaching the supports to the trees, I lifted the platform piece by piece and assembled it on the supports. An extra set of hands was needed only to raise the four walls and two roof sections. Final assembly took place in the trees.”

Take a look at these great-looking kids room ideas for inspiration.

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Use the Right Fasteners

  • Allow for flexible supports, especially if you use more than one tree, so that trees can move in the wind. Special floating brackets allow the tree to sway.
  • Don’t run bolts through the tree. Lag bolts cause less tree damage than through bolts.
  • Don’t use too many fasteners. One large bolt is better than many screws or nails. You get the same strength but with fewer puncture wounds to the tree.
  • Whenever possible, perch your tree house on top of fasteners rather than pinning beams to the tree. This gives the tree room to move and grow.
  • Even for smaller, lighter tree houses where the load is spread over three or four attachment points, consider using one inch or 1-1/4 in. dia. lag bolts.

You can order floating brackets and tree house fasteners from specialty suppliers such as or or special-order them from home centers. These bolts are pricey (about $100 each) and often require special tools. But they allow the tree more room to grow (they can support heavy loads up to five inches from the tree) and they hold more weight than normal bolts.

Let your kid feel like a spy with these awesome spy gadget toys.

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Photo courtesy of

Cool Treehouse Accessories You Can Buy (Or Make Yourself)

Don’t forget the accessories with your treehouse ideas! Just a couple of finishing touches turn a “box up in a tree” into the ultimate fort and hang-out zone.

Here are some accessories that go great with a treehouse:

  • Ball/potato launcher
  • Water cannon
  • Fire pole or slide
  • Trap door
  • Solar-powered lights or lanterns
  • Fold-down benches and tables.

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Be Conscious of Treehouse Safety Issues

Building a treehouse is a wonderfully whimsical and romantic idea. But it’s important to go into it with your eyes open. Keep the following issues in mind:

Tree Damage

Tree houses do damage trees. Foot traffic compresses the soil, which is bad for the roots. Adding weight in the branches can also stress the tree roots, and fasteners can cause infection. Most trees will survive this abuse, but think twice before you build in a treasured tree.

How To Minimize Tree Damage
  • Consider using one or two supports ground to take stress off the tree.
  • Make the fewest punctures necessary to support the tree house safely. Any damage to the bark of the tree is a potential entry point for disease and bacteria.
  • Don’t put fasteners too close together, which can weaken that section of the tree. Use at least 3/4 in. bolts spaced at least 18 in. apart vertically and 12 in. apart horizontally.
  • Avoid slinging cables and ropes over branches. They cut through the bark as the structure moves.

Neighborhood Concerns and Municipal Regulations

Do you need a building permit? It depends on local laws and the nature of your treehouse. If you’re considering building one that will be visible to your neighbors, discuss it with them in advance to avoid problems. Often a municipality becomes involved after a neighbor complains. Stay away from boundary lines and don’t build your tree house where it will infringe on a neighbor’s privacy.


Kids can get hurt playing in a treehouse. Don’t build higher than eight feet and make sure to build safe, strong rails. Also, nobody should be in a tree house in high winds or lightning.

Check out these incredible treehouse building plans to get started.

Originally Published: June 18, 2020

How to Build a DIY Treehouse

Project details


5 out of 5 Hard Installing the decking is easy, but the framing is challenging.



Estimated Time

Two days

Kids will pass the time in nearly any backyard for a little while. Add a tree fort and you introduce an element of adventure that will keep them playing until the streetlights flicker on. That’s how Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, remembers his childhood. And it’s why he took charge of building a fort for Katherine and Murat Bicer, the owners of 2015’s project house in Belmont, Massachusetts.

“When my dad brought plywood scraps home from job sites, we added them to any of the neighborhood forts we had going,” Kevin says. He built a tree house for his own kids but points out that a simple platform provides plenty of fun: “All they really want to do is climb up, look down, and throw things at each other.”

Kevin and TOH general contractor Tom Silva built the platform for the Bicers’ son and daughter out of pressure-treated wood, and supported it with specialty hardware that requires just four holes through the tree’s vital cambium layer. Follow along as they show you how to create a distraction awesome enough that the kids might even forget about screen time.

Watch the full episode here.


18 Treehouses That Are Nicer Than Your House

Treehouse Plans: An Overview

Gregory Nemec

How to Build a DIY Treehouse

1. Drill the Holes

Anthony Tieuli
  • Mark the bark about 17 inches below the finished deck height on one side of the tree. Use a 3-inch self-feed bit to bore into the trunk 2 inches past the bark layer.
  • Drill a second hole directly opposite the first.

2. Screw in the Hardware

Anthony Tieuli
  • Using a 1 1/8-inch auger bit, drill 2 inches into the middle of the first hole; make sure it’s level.
  • Then use a 1-inch auger bit to drill another hole 4 1/2 inches deep to accept the threads of the tree bolt.
  • Slip the pipe bracket that will support the framing onto the tree bolt, cap it with a hex nut, as shown, and twist the threaded end into the hole with a 1 7/8-inch socket wrench (or a pipe wrench). Repeat the process on the opposite side.

3. Install the Beams

Anthony Tieuli
  • Make a beam by joining a pair of 2x10s with construction adhesive and 16d ring-shank nails.
  • Slide the beam onto the pipe bracket, as shown, and center it. Attach the bracket to the beam with 4-inch structural screws.
  • Level the beam using a 4-foot level, then brace it by driving 2-inch deck screws through 2x4s or deck boards and into each end of the beam. Repeat the process for the beam on the opposite side of the tree.

4. Add Headers

Anthony Tieuli
  • Attach joist hangers a few inches inside the ends of the beams with 1 1⁄2-inch joist hanger nails.
  • Make a short beam with more 2x10s to fit in the hangers. Nestle the header in the joist hanger and nail it in place with more joist hanger nails, as shown. Repeat at the opposite ends of the beams.

5. Size the Knee Brace

Anthony Tieuli
  • A specialty bracket and 4x6 timber support the end of the beam assembly. Use a rafter square to hold the bracket at a 45° angle to the tree, as shown.
  • Pull the tape measure from the metal tab to the underside of the header to get a rough length. Repeat this step on the other side of the tree.

6. Form the Bird’s Mouth

Anthony Tieuli
  • Start by making a mark on the board face 2 1⁄4 inches up from the bottom edge of the 4x6.
  • Rest the shoulder of the rafter square against the bottom edge with the 45° angle facing the board end. Draw a 45° line from the mark to the bottom edge.
  • Flip the square over with its shoulder against the opposite edge and the angle facing the end. From the mark, make a second line along the angle to the top edge, creating an angled L, called a bird’s mouth, on the face of the timber. Start the cut along the lines with a circular saw, then finish with a reciprocating saw, as shown.
  • Now measure from the corner of the L and cut the timber to length.


Cut a Bracket SlotAnthony Tieuli
  • The knee-brace bracket rests in a slot cut into the end of the 4x6. To make the joint, use the rafter square to mark the center of the end of the 4x6.
  • Then use a circular saw or chainsaw to cut a 3⁄8-inch-wide channel in the timber as long as the tab on the bracket. Make a second knee brace following these same steps.

8. Add the Lags

Anthony Tieuli
  • Hold the knee-brace bracket against the face of the 4x6 at the slotted end and mark the two bolt holes.
  • Use a 5⁄8-inch bit to drill through the timber. Slip the bracket into the slot, hammer the lag bolts through, as shown, then add washers and nuts.
  • Tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench. Repeat for the second brace.

9. Connect Brace to Header

Anthony Tieuli
  • Toenail 2x8 joists 16 inches on center to the carrying beams with ring-shank nails to create an 8-by-10-foot framework. Use hurricane ties to reinforce the joist–beam connections.
  • Lift the header about an inch with a 4x6 and a bottle jack—you’ll remove it to put tension on the brace once it’s installed.
  • Hold the brace in place with the bird’s mouth biting the header. Drive a pair of 6-inch structural screws through the outside of the header and into the 4x6, as shown.

10. Bolt Hardware to the Tree

Anthony Tieuli
  • Hold the end of the knee-brace bracket to the tree. Using the metal tube as a guide, drill an 8-inch-deep hole into the tree with a 1 1⁄4-inch auger bit.
  • Thread a 15-inch galvanized lag bolt into place and tighten it with a socket wrench. Leave a few inches between the bracket and the bolt head to accommodate tree growth.
  • Now lower the jack and repeat the process on the other side of the tree.

11. Attach the Decking

Anthony Tieuli
  • Place a piece of full-length decking 3 inches from the tree, to allow for growth, and hammer ring-shank nails through it into each joist.
  • Work out toward the edge of the framework, using the same nails as spacers between boards. Stop about a foot from the joist ends.

12. Scribe the Short Pieces

Anthony Tieuli
  • Now work in the other direction, installing the boards interrupted by the tree. Scribe the ends to follow the contour of the bark, as shown.
  • Cut the marks with a jigsaw, and attach the boards, again leaving 3 inches for growth.
  • Install all the interrupted pieces, then continue laying full-length boards, stopping a foot shy of the joist ends.
  • With the decking in place, trim the ends of the boards with the jigsaw, creating a natural edge.

Tip: To accurately scribe the boards that run into the tree trunk, hold the compass so its legs are parallel with the joint in the boards.

13. Install Blocking

Anthony Tieuli
  • For the corner posts, nail 2x8 blocking about 8 inches in from the joist ends of the first and last joist bays on the long sides.
  • Add blocking for two field posts evenly spaced between the corners. The rail posts are made from straight branches 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
  • Make corner posts by cutting a 7 1⁄4-inch-long notch into one side of a branch with a reciprocating saw, as shown.

14. Attach Posts

Anthony Tieuli
  • Position a corner post with the notch against the joist and shoulder on the decking, and drive a pair of 10-inch structural screws through the post and into the blocking, as shown. Repeat with the remaining corners and field posts for the long sides.
  • Now notch the last deck boards to fit around the posts and install them.

15. Finish the Ends

Anthony Tieuli
  • On the short sides, plan for one field post between the corner posts. Notch all four sides of the field posts with a reciprocating saw.
  • Hold a post in place on top of the decking, mark around the notch, then cut a mortise with a jigsaw.
  • Drop the field post in the hole, as shown. Use 10-inch screws to attach the post to the side of the joist.

16. Add the Rails

Anthony Tieuli
  • Use a reciprocating saw to cut the field posts about 3 feet tall and notch their tops for a half-lap joint.
  • Find one long top rail that spans corner to corner and notch its ends to complete a half-lap joint with the posts.
  • Then notch the rail’s underside where it meets the field posts with shallow saw cuts and a chisel.
  • Drive deck screws through the top rail and into the posts.
  • Attach the bottom rail in sections between the corner and field posts.

17. Finish the Railing

Anthony Tieuli
  • Miter the ends of 2-inch-diameter branches to make balusters.
  • Drill pilot holes through the mitered ends and into the top rail and attach with deck screws, as shown. Screw the other end of the balusters into the bottom rail. For safety reasons, space the balusters about 3 1⁄2 inches apart.
  • Attach the cargo netting to the fort with eye hooks and secure the other end using stakes.

Tip: Use a scrap piece of 2x4 to help space the balusters consistently.


Tools & Materials

how to build a current reality tree to solve business problems - Career on

You are a business owner or manager. And you have some unknown garbage going on on some project or management circuit: a conflict between employees, problems with a client and his project, broken agreements, or all of this together.


You can, of course, just call your subordinates on the carpet and yell, but this will not solve the problem. And you can - take and understand. Long, tedious, sometimes unpleasant and painful.

And piece by piece, restoring the picture and all the cause-and-effect relationships, build a tree of the current reality - a diagram that is liked by experienced managers for its clarity and effectiveness.

In this material, we will show step by step on a real example how to do this.

Star problem

You can write for a long time about the trees of the current reality and the theory of system constraints theoretically (if anything, we talked about it in detail here), but it’s much cooler to analyze it with a real example.

Given : project with complex integration - 1 piece. Project Manager - 1. Integration Developer - 1.

Situation : Sprint is interrupted.

Task : find the true causes of the situation and propose a solution to the problem.


To solve a problem, you must first rewind and understand why it happened. Therefore, welcome to the chair of the chief's psychologist: heart-to-heart talks are coming.

We are talking with the manager and the developer. When asking questions, we “dig” to the true reasons - as a rule, they are not recognized by people, we have to help them in this. Be prepared to be bombarded with language, many of which can be toxic.

There are many tools (5-WHY and others) for finding negative phenomena - many of them we consider in detail in the "Project Management Course".

Unwinding the situation from different angles, we find out the following:

  • Some tasks were not done in accordance with the statements.
  • The developer assessed the task - assessed it, but somehow: he began to ask questions about the case when he got to the implementation (and he had to think about the restrictions and all the misunderstandings at the stage of assessing the time spent).
  • The developer came to the manager with a problem, but not with solutions.
  • The developer humbly waited for a response from the manager until he answered (he was on another task, for example).
  • As a result - failure to meet deadlines and strained relations between the developer and the manager.

All that we have now listed are undesirable effects (UDE, Undesirable Effect). In short, UDE is something without which any business system would be much better off.

How do you know if something is a UDE? There are several criteria for checking:

- UDE - a constant problem that prevents you from achieving the best results.

— UDE is objective and does not contain value judgments.

- The UDE does not blame anyone.

- UDE describes a state, not a one-time situation.

- UDE is removable (something can be done about it).

- UDE cannot be the suspected cause of the problem.

- UDE cannot be a veiled solution to a problem.

— UDE requires no explanation for its negative effect.

- UDE does not contain causal relationships.

— UDE is in your area of ​​responsibility as a manager.

You can read more about this in the book "Fundamentals of the Theory of Constraints" by Oded Cowan and Elena Fedurko.

Important : when formulating UDE, do not spread your thoughts along the tree, briefly formulate them in the form of sentences in the present tense. Simple formulations will help you read the current reality tree and build sentences from individual phrases, adding logical links like “if-then” between UDEs.


"Low customer satisfaction".

"A tense atmosphere in the team."


"Consumers don't like the product."

"Employees are in conflict."

Problem solving - current reality tree

The Current Reality Tree (TRT) is a large diagram that helps to look at problems in a complex way, see their interconnections and find the root cause of a particular negative situation. To build it, we will need the UDE collected earlier.

In the lists of must-read literature for business owners and managers, you must have come across books by Eliyahu Goldratt. His problem solving scheme is working and cool, but it requires a lot of time and human resources - it will take N-hours of your life to collect UDE and build a current reality tree (the more running the processes, the more time you will spend on it).

Until recently, I did not come across convenient tools in which one could build trees of the current reality. Doing this on paper, in Xmind (usually ended with this), Visio or in some kind of is extremely inconvenient.

Vladimir, head of studio

But still, there are a couple of programs for building DTR, where it is convenient to think about the problem. These are Flying Logic Pro and

Flying Logic Pro

How to build a DTR - instruction

Step 1

We throw all our UDEs into one of the programs - for now, in any order. For an adequate chart, five to ten adverse events are sufficient.

Step 2

The next step is to establish links between UDEs: each UDE must have at least one causal relationship with another adverse event. At the same stage, it is worth assessing the causes of each UAE by asking a simple question “Why?”. Add to chart, establish links to specific adverse events.

In our case, we dug up several reasons:

  • The manager did not plan.
  • When evaluating an integration task, the developer did not read the statements carefully.
  • The description of an important section (working with discounts) was skipped in the integration protocol.
  • The manager himself does not understand the project at 100%, as he received it “by inheritance” from another manager.
  • The manager could not answer the developer's questions.
  • The manager delayed the answer to the developer in Skype.

Step 3

Theory of Constraints is a concept of organizational management, introduced by Goldratt in the 80s, and now it has become a whole philosophy for managers. And its main essence is to sort out the process of thinking in order to answer just three questions:

  1. What to change?
  2. What to change?
  3. How to change?

We have already dealt with the first question - we have collected UDE, understood how they are connected. Then we think over and check the solutions. We start with a need - the situation is not satisfactory, we think about how it should be so that everything goes smoothly (and we answer the second fundamental question of TOC).

In the conditions of our task, the conditions should be as follows:

  1. The developer should think over implementation issues in advance, and if something doesn’t go according to plan, come to the manager with a solution to the problem (and not with the statement “Help situation, SOS situation!” or “Chief, everything is lost!”).
  2. The manager, on the other hand, must know his project like a flaky one, and if he still doesn’t know something, he must have a plan B (and preferably also a plan C) in order to quickly get the information that he does not know.

Step 4

We run the resulting tree through the criteria for checking logical constructions (CLPC). They help to get rid of ambiguous wording and inconsistencies and make the diagram readable. We wrote about them in more detail in this material, here we give brief formulations:

  1. Clarity (as far as the TTR is understandable to the audience).
  2. Clear statements (causes and effects are correctly stated).
  3. Causes and effects are obvious.
  4. The reasons are sufficient (important aspects are not lost).
  5. Alternative causes checked (leads to same result).
  6. Causes are not replaced by effects.
  7. Additional results based on the original cause are listed.
  8. No looped logic (causes are obvious, consequences are sufficient).

Step 5

Determine which object affects the rest more than others. Bingo, you have found the limitation and the root cause of the problems. In our case, this is the lack of planning. Highlight the root cause with color.

Step 6

We turn our needs into big goals that will lead to the fulfillment of the main desire (to hand over the project) and eliminate the root cause.

  1. For the developer: preparing questions before planning for a correct assessment of tasks before the start, suggesting solutions when problems arise - all this for the sake of 100% quality of work.
  2. For a manager: a clear formulation of tasks with an unambiguous statement, a decomposition of tasks understandable for a developer, prompt and reliable answers to questions (what in Skype, what in person), a high degree of immersion of the manager in the project.

The resulting diagram is not the final version of the TDR, but only a piece of a larger analytical process

What's next

The current reality tree is not a magic pill - it does not offer ready-made solutions. It exposes problems and helps to set goals that require review of processes, introduction of additional regulations and other meticulous thoughtful and long-term actions. In each case - individual. And this is a completely different story :)

Create a tree diagram in Office

Excel for Microsoft 365 Word for Microsoft 365 Outlook for Microsoft 365 PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 Excel for Microsoft 365 for Mac Word for Microsoft 365 for Mac Outlook for Microsoft 365 for Mac PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 for Mac Excel 2021 Word 2021 Outlook 2021 PowerPoint 2021 Excel 2021 for Mac Word 2021 for Mac Outlook 2021 for Mac PowerPoint 2021 for Mac Excel 2019 Word 2019 Outlook 2019 PowerPoint 2019Excel 2019 for Mac Word 2019 for Mac Outlook 2019 for Mac PowerPoint 2019 for Mac Excel 2016 Word 2016 Outlook 2016 PowerPoint 2016 Excel 2016 for Mac Word 2016 for Mac PowerPoint 2016 for Mac Excel for iPad Excel for iPhone More. ..Less

A tree chart provides a hierarchical view of data and makes it easy to identify patterns, such as which items will perform best in a store. The branches of the tree are represented by a rectangle, and each branch is represented as a smaller rectangle. In a tree chart, categories are displayed by color and proximity, and can easily display large amounts of data, which would be difficult to do with other types of charts.

The tree chart is useful when you want to compare proportions in a hierarchy, but it doesn't show the hierarchical levels between the largest categories and each data point very well. The "sunburst" diagram is much more suitable for this.

Creating a tree diagram

  1. Select data.

  2. Go to tab Insert > insert hierarchical diagram > tree.

    Featured charts can also be used to create a tree chart, on the tab Insert > Featured charts > all charts.

Tip: On the tab Designer and Format you can customize the appearance of the chart. If you don't see these tabs, click anywhere in the tree view to activate them.

Changing how labels are displayed

Excel automatically uses a different color for each top-level (parent) category. But you can further highlight the differences between categories with the data label layout.

  1. Right-click one of the rectangles in the chart and select Data Series Format .

  2. Under Row Options > Signature Options , select the desired display option.

Creating a tree diagram

  1. Select data.

  2. Learn more