How to make a tree house youtube

Suspension bridge through the tree tops could attract more visitors to an MSU hidden gem

There’s a hidden gem of nature in Michigan and people drive right past it without realizing what it is.

Hidden Lake Gardens is in Lenawee County about ten miles west of the small town of Tecumseh. The director of the gardens says this place has been around as far back as 1926, but not that many people are aware of it.

Lester Graham


Michigan Radio

A lot of people speed right past the entrance to Hidden Lake Gardens on M 50 not realizing what it is.

“I guess we wear our Hidden Lake name very well,” joked Paul Pfeifer, director of the gardens.

He says people who do finally visit the site -which is owned by Michigan State University- tell him they didn’t think it was open to the public.

“They think we’re something that we’re not. So, thought we were a retirement community, folks that thought we were a golf course. Some thought they were not open to the public research facility. So we do hear a lot of 'didn't know you guys were even here.'”

MSU’s Hidden Lake Gardens amounts to 750 acres of gardens and woodlands, including several acres of rare conifers, a conservatory, and more. It’s in the Irish Hills area so there’s some really interesting topography thanks to the glaciers more than ten thousand years ago.

Chuck Gross drives by Hidden Lake Gardens on M-50 each day on his way to work. It really bugs him that more people don’t know about it.

Many of those who do visit, just drive around the six miles of roads through the forest and gardens. They don’t even get out of their cars to explore the 12 miles of hiking trails.

Lester Graham


Michigan Radio

Chuck Gross suggested Hidden Lake Gardens needed something to attract more visitors. MSU agreed and asked him to raise the money for it.

He had an idea. What if Hidden Lake Gardens built an attraction? Something where you had to hike a bit to get to it.

He cold-called Pfeifer. They met and talked about what that attraction might be. Then, Pfeifer took an idea to Michigan State University. When the university got back to them, Chuck Gross says at first it was great news.

“Basically, then, they said, ‘Well, it sounds like a great idea. You guys just need to raise the money for it.’”

Uh… that’s not a job Gross was expecting.

“I thought if they did embrace the idea, they'd say, ‘Hey, we got this one. We'll let you know when we're done and you can come visit like everybody else,” he said.

Instead he and Pfeifer started raising money, enough to get a suspension bridge built through the tree tops.

Lester Graham


Michigan Radio

Nathan Blank adjusts the cables to make the suspension bridge platform level.

You need some experts to pull off something like that. That’s how Robbie Oates got involved. He’s with Phoenix Experiential Designs. He’s built a lot of these canopy suspension bridges in the U.S. and around the globe.

When you’re on the bridge, it really is like walking through the tree tops.

“What we really wanted to do is get out there and see those trees or that bird sitting perched in that limb right over there, that kind of thing,” he explained.

He says building these canopy walks makes him feel a little like a Dr. Seuss character.

“Sometimes I feel like The Lorax,” he said.

In the book, the Lorax said, “I speak for the trees.”

“You know, that I get to -not speak for the trees- but guide people to the trees and a canopy walkway is a really good way to do that,” Oates explained.

Oates says there was a perfect site at Hidden Lake Gardens. There’s this sort of bowl-shaped valley. It’s called a kettle hole, a deep depression caused by a chunk of glacier falling off. The 700 foot bridge spans that ‘kettle hole’ valley.

Lester Graham


Michigan Radio

Paul Pfeifer is the Director of MSU's Hidden Lake Gardens. He said many people drive by the gardens thinking it's a retirement community or a golf course instead of what it actually is: 750 acres of forest and gardens.

When I visited during construction, the side cables and netting weren’t in place yet. That means it could be a shear drop if I slipped off the edge. So, Robbie’s son Austin (who is now the boss as Robbie nears retirement) put me in a safety harness so I could walk out and take a look around. I watched as another worker, Nathan Blank, adjusted the bridge cables to make the walkway level.

The platform of the bridge is a fiberglass grid, so you can see right through it. The bottom of the kettle hole is about 60 feet below your feet.

As Robbie Oates said, you really get the sense of the height and the topography when you look down.

He says adventure junkies like himself will love it.

The height and the slight movement of the bridge will be a challenge for other people. But there’s a sturdy classroom at bridge level. There’s plenty of room to view things from there if you’re not crazy about the idea of going out on the suspension bridge.

Patti Vanooyen has been visiting Hidden Lake Gardens since her parents took here there in the late 1950s. She was hiking the trails with her son, Jeff Hephner. They stopped to see how the suspension bridge construction was coming along.

I asked what they thought of building something like this in the middle of the woods.

Lester Graham


Michigan Radio

Jeff Hephner and his mother Patti Vanooyen often hike the trails at Hidden Lake Gardens. They both enthusiastic about the suspension bridge and hope it draws more people.

“I think that it was genius to be honest with you, because more people will come once they see. It's like a big, big tree house for us,” Vanooyen said.

“Like this part of it literally launching you into the canopy. And I think that's what is going to make it so special,” Hephner noted.

Vanooyen smiled and added, “I know they're going to be ooh-ing and ahh-ing, I'm telling you.”

Construction on the canopy walk is not quite finished. Long ramps had to be built and the trail to the site needs some improvement so that people with different physical capabilities will be able enjoy the view.

The Hidden Lake Gardens’ Paul Pfeifer said the plan is to have a big opening in the spring. He’s hopeful a lot more people will discover the gardens and its forests.

Saturday Sourcing Sprint (22 Oct 2022)


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asked ago in The Tree House by Wendy Taylor G2G6 Mach 6 (69. 7k points)

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answered ago by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (689k points)

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In for a few : )

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how to build, drawings, photos, videos

Probably, there is not a single child in the world who would not like to have their own house, located on the branches of trees. This is not just a place for games - it is a small world with its own laws, rules, traditions. If there are several tall, strong trees in the summer cottage, you can come up with a simple project and bring it to life, to the delight of children, and adults too. It remains to figure out how to build a tree house with your own hands.


  • 1 Tree structure options

  • 2 Preparing for upcoming work

  • 3 Ways to build a treehouse

    • 3.1 Frame structure on supports

    • 3.2 Arrangement of a platform on branches

  • 4 DIY Instruction Videos

There are a lot of options for building tree houses. They are built both for exciting children's games, and for solitude with a book under a spreading crown in the summer heat.

There are absolutely no restrictions in style and purpose. It can be an inaccessible tower of a beauty, a disguised outpost, an ogre's castle or a spaceship.

Watch tower
The dwelling of the forest goblin
summer vacation house
Shed roof gazebo
Dollhouse styling
Traditional dwelling of the Papuans
In the form of a wagon
multi-storey castle
hunting hut

Architecturally, everything is much more modest. There are three popular, proven types of structures, these are:

  • Platform construction. Powerful branches or the trunk itself act as a bearing element, on which the details of the lower floor are fixed with self-tapping anchors. If necessary, the platform is reinforced with oblique beams resting against a tree.
  • Frame house on stilts. In fact, this is an independent building, the floor and roof of which is only crossed by one or more trunks. The building itself is not supported by a tree, therefore, it does not interfere with life and growth. Such a house is installed on piles, the size of which is determined depending on the upcoming load.
  • Hanging platform. Suspended from branches capable of withstanding using ropes, cables or chains. The easiest, but not very reliable and safe method of organization, especially when it comes to a play area for children.

The first and third architectural types directly depend on the bearing capacity of the trunk, the size of its branches and the root system. After all, the tree will have to perform the function of a foundation: to steadfastly hold the load not only of the structure itself, but also of visitors. It is believed that a trunk with a thickness of at least 30 cm in diameter, preferably more, will be able to cope with this difficult work.

Oak is rightfully recognized as the optimal species for building a house. Beech, maple and large spruces follow it in the ranking of suitable trees. Before you design a structure and plan actions, you need to carefully inspect the object to be used for the presence of parasites and diseases. If negative signs are identified, the idea will have to be abandoned.

Three basic tree house designs are used as the basis for developing your own building design

For the construction of the second constructive variety, using only the crown for masking or decoration, the bearing capacity of the tree is absolutely unimportant. A completely young representative of the world of fauna will do, who will eventually hide the intelligence headquarters or the alien ship in its lush greenery. Almost all deciduous, coniferous and even garden species are suitable.

We admit that not all domestic estates have a suitable tree for building a house. However, suppose that it was your parents who bypassed the love of gardening. That the selfless and undivided passion for cultivating every centimeter in our latitudes did not force them to uproot such an incomparable object.

Before you start designing and choosing the best way to make a house on a tree growing within the plot, you should evaluate the real situation. You need to find out if there are any local ordinances prohibiting the construction of such structures. In some situations, for such buildings it is necessary to obtain permits.

If the tree is located next to a neighbor's plot, you should definitely talk to its owners. It is possible that the design will obscure their favorite flower garden, spoil the view from the window, or the frolicking children will cause unnecessary concern to the elderly. In any case, you should discuss the upcoming construction site with your neighbors in order to maintain friendly relations.

When designing a tree house, it should be taken into account that it is unsafe to place it at a height of more than 2.5 m (1). If the trunk or branches are able to become a reliable support (2), they can be used as the basis for the construction of the first type of house. The tree must have a strong enough root system (3)

Let's assume that we have no obstacles for building a treehouse. So, we can safely do independent design, for which you need:

  • Select the safest bottom floor height. It is believed that for children's games a treehouse should not be located above 1.5 m. If a gazebo is planned, then the height limit can be moved by 2 - 2.5 m. her.
  • Calculate the optimal area of ​​the lower floor or platform, considering that the projection from the building located on the tree must be completely on your site.
  • Decide on the design of the house. Decide whether it will be a platform with perimeter fences and a canopy, a hut-type structure or a small frame house.
  • Consider the possibility of an accidental fall. It is desirable that the ground around the structure is not compacted. Concrete sites are completely excluded, the proximity of paved paths is not recommended.
  • Consider the most convenient and safe type of stairs for moving house visitors up/down.

If desired, and if there are structural prerequisites, it would be good to think over the options for exploiting the area under the structure. It does not hurt to arrange a shed there for storing utensils and items that will need to be removed from the rain.

When designing a structure, it is necessary to consider safety criteria, provide for the best way to move and the possibility of using the space under the house

As a hint to home craftsmen, we will analyze the two most popular methods for building a treehouse. They can be copied in whole or in part, or you can develop your own method of construction based on the examples given.

Frame structure on supports

This is the most humane type of structure, which in principle can be built just next to a tree or without it at all. It is a small frame structure mounted on piles. The roof is formed by hanging trusses, fastened at the top with metal plates. Movement is provided by a fixed ladder installed at an angle of 45º.

The presented version of the house does not rely on the trunk and branches. In order for them to cross the floor and roof, you just need to make holes in the ceilings (+)

A bar 105×105 mm was used to make the frame. For the device of the pile foundation, it would not be superfluous to slightly increase the size of the material, it is permissible to slightly reduce it on the wall racks. For wall cladding, it is better to purchase lining, but plywood is also suitable, it is recommended to buy a grooved board 150 × 50 mm for the floor, and a 100 × 25 mm edged board for the rafters.

You can build a house for a squirrel from the remains of a cut board. Read about it:

If there are no carpentry skills, then it is better to buy metal corners and plates to connect the frame parts. Do the same with the boxes in the door and window opening, although you can make them yourself if you wish.

In the construction of a house, it is easier to use a tried and tested option and calculated dimensions. You can develop your own project based on the example (+)

The roof in the example is made of flexible tiles, under which a continuous crate of plywood or a board laid with a gap of 3 mm is arranged. You will also need cement or a ready-made cement mortar from a plant specializing in its manufacture, anchors and thrust bearings for attaching piles.

Frame parts are easier to connect with metal corners. As an alternative, a half-tree cut is used. When choosing the second option, it should be taken into account in the calculation of the length of the elements (+)

In the example, an asymmetric hanging type truss system. The rafter legs at the top rest against each other, are connected using a toothed metal plate. The lower connection node with the frame strapping is formed by a notch, additionally fixed with nails (+)

Stages of building a base for a house:

  • We mark the site according to the size of the house. We mark the corners of the structure with pegs, connect them with twine. We measure the diagonals of the marked outline, they should be equal.
  • At the places of installation of piles, we form pits with a depth of about 50 - 60 cm. The length of the sides of the pits is 30 - 40 cm. The smaller its area, the less mortar will go, but the more - the more reliable the foundation for the pile will be. Recesses for pouring the solution can be made using a garden drill.
  • We tamp the bottom of the pits, after wetting the low-moisture sand to increase the density. If the bottom is composed of loam, or wet sand, it is not necessary to moisten.
  • Creating a pillow for the pile foundation. At the bottom of each pit we pour 10 cm of crushed stone and 10 cm of sand. We ram again.
  • Pour cement mortar into one of the pits to approximately half of the space remaining after backfilling the pillow.
  • We install pieces of metal masonry mesh with a cell up to 25 × 25 × 2 mm over the pouring. We fasten it with pins or wire directly into the soil wall of the pit. The main thing is that the grid does not move to the bottom, but remains approximately in the middle of the support being arranged.
  • Fill the remaining space in the pit with mortar.
  • Similarly, we arrange concrete foundations for all piles.

While pouring the second part of the mortar, install a dowel for the thrust bearing under the pile. If you do not put it right away, then you will have to drill a hole in the concrete stone. We take into account that no more than 45 minutes should elapse between filling the first and second half of the pit, otherwise the support will not be monolithic.

Pit device
Pouring solution
Installation of a metal thrust bearing

Immediately after pouring with a building level, we check that the surface of the poured supports is at the same height. Otherwise, it will be necessary to align the thrust bearings, and put wood chips or cutting boards under them.

It takes time for the supports to harden. According to the rules for pouring foundations for residential buildings, the following work should be started after 28 days. For this period, they should be covered with polyethylene, which must be periodically removed to ventilate the supports.

Installation of supports in thrust bearings
Fastening corners to racks
Installation of frame beams
Top trim attachment
Strap connection
Window frame installation
Making a rafter template
Fastening rafters to the strapping
Board floor boarding
Wall frame assembly
Fixing elements with corners
Frame wall cladding
Roof framing device
The board is laid with a gap of up to 3 mm
Roofing installation

Next, the frame is built:

  • With the help of thrust bearings, we install piles, the upper part of which plays the role of supporting frame racks.
  • We build the lower and upper harness of the house. We connect the strapping details to the racks using metal corners.
  • We put window and door frames, if they are in the project.
  • We mark the middle of the end of the house in order to try on the roof rafters. Strictly vertically we nail the rail in this place.
  • We apply one board to the left and right sides of the conditional roof end, mark on them the line of the upper cut and the outline of the lower cut used for installation on the harness.
  • According to these templates, we prepare the required number of long and short rafter legs.
  • We connect the rafters with a metal plate on the ground and transport them upstairs in finished form. We strengthen the lower knot in the cutting area with nails or corners.

Now the finished frame must be sheathed as planned: lay the floor, sheathe the walls, lay the sheathing and roofing. During sheathing, we select holes for the tree trunk where it passes through the floor and roof. We form a hole with a gap along the perimeter of the trunk of 7 - 10 cm for free movement during growth and in case of swaying in a strong wind.

The principle of the fence, window frame and shutter is shown in the diagrams with dimensions (+)

4-point fixed ladder for children's house is the safest option. However, for a device of this design, it is necessary to pour concrete supports to support the lower points (+)

From below, around the hole, we nail the cuttings of the board to strengthen the floor and prevent the material from tearing off. At the end, we install the appropriate canvases in the window and door frames, construct and fix the stairs.

Holes are formed in the lower ceiling of the house and the roof for the tree trunk so that there is a gap between the tree and the structure (+)

Arrangement of a platform on branches

If the trunk has a V-shaped fork, it may well become a support base for the lower ceiling of the house. True, the tree will have to be drilled, which is not very pleasant for him. In addition, the fixing points must be made in such a way that when the size of the tree changes and when it sways from the wind, it cannot damage the structure.

Before you start building such a treehouse design, you need to try it on. It is needed to select the optimal position of the floor beams. This is best done with cutting boards, the length of which will be approximately 50 cm longer than the distance between the branches. To perform fitting and marking for the described option, you will need a reliable ladder and a similar assistant.

Branch house
Suitable only for powerful trunks
View of the site from below

Having placed the board strictly horizontally, it is necessary to mark the attachment points on the branches and on the board. To find them, a board must be pivotally attached to one of the branches with a nail. By turning the board, slightly shifting its second edge up / down, you should find a horizontal position. Horizontal control should be carried out with a building level, setting it on the edge of the board being tried on.

The fitting phase is extremely important because in the future, to correct distortions, it will be necessary to drill a new hole in the wood, which will weaken both the trunk and the attachment point.

As in the previous case, it is necessary to think over the safety aspects in advance and choose the best type of stairs for movement

A piece of board will become a template for marking the distance between branches on a 100x150 mm beam to be attached to a tree. The holes are naturally marked in the center of the workpiece on the wide side. This is how the floor guide beam is formed. The distance on the opposite side should be determined in the same way and in exactly the same way it will be necessary to make the second beam.

The holes for fastening the beams to the tree must be longitudinal and clearly aligned to the horizon. To do this, from the point marked on the material, lay 5 cm to the right and left sides. Then, with a 12 mm drill, the initial holes are selected along the edges, and the excess between them is removed with a jigsaw. The longitudinal hole will allow the branches to move without destroying the structure installed on them.

The holes for fastening the beams to the trunk must be made in the form of an elongated slot so that the tree does not damage the structure when swinging from the wind

Next, we start building a house according to the following algorithm:

  • We fasten the guide beams to the branches through the formed holes, installing wood screws Ø 12 mm approximately in their middle. Fastener length 200 mm. A washer must be installed between the beam and the screw.
  • Checking the horizontal position of the fixed beams.
  • We mount on top of them in the transverse direction the beams of the lower floor from a beam of 50 × 100 mm. We first install the two extreme ones, then the intermediate ones. The distance between the intermediate beams must be equal. We fix to the guide screws 80 mm.
  • From the end of the installed transverse beams we fasten a beam of the same size.
  • Nodal connections are reinforced with metal corners and plates.
  • We strengthen the position of the platform with two oblique beams 50×100 mm, the upper edge of which rests against the formed platform, the lower one is nailed to the tree. Fastening to the site is carried out with corners, to the tree with 100 mm screws.
  • We lay the floor with a board 50 × 150 mm. We rally the grooved board and nail it after 4 - 5 pieces to the floor beams. It is permissible to lay a non-grooved board with gaps of 2 - 3 mm, each element must be fastened with two screws or nails.
  • Along the perimeter of the platform we build a fence from a vertically installed board or bar with a distance between the elements of about 10 cm. In the corners of the platform, the bars of adjacent sides are installed close to each other. The length of the railing elements is at least 90 cm, so that the total height with railings is about 80 cm.
  • Lay a block on top of the railing to form the railing. The bar is attached with corners to these peculiar balusters.

Site ready. In order to get there, you will need a ladder, the type of which is selected for safety reasons. If children will be the host in the house, it is better to build a durable version on stringers or bowstrings with at least one-sided railings. If a ladder is to be used, its beams should be sharpened from below and deepened into the ground to fix the position.

Drilling holes for fasteners
Installation of floor beams
Installation of beams from the end of the floor
The principle of connecting elements
Fasteners for end beams with corners
Strengthening the platform with jibs
Forming a hole for the trunk
Fixing floor boards
Stages of floor boarding
Installation of fence posts
Installation of railings
Metal mesh attachment
Construction and installation of stairs
Arrangement of an awning instead of a roof
The simplest roof option

The design of the top of the platform can be varied. A folding or stationary structure in the form of a hut or a gable roof is suitable. The construction of a treehouse can be continued using frame technology or an awning can be placed there, stretched over racks located at the corners.

Budget method of building a summer base on a tree:

American builders experience in building treehouses:

The options for building a treehouse that we proposed are most often used by independent craftsmen. With the construction according to the described schemes there will be no slightest problems. But the result will be appreciated by adult households and the younger generation.

  • Author: yanana11