Having a playset in your backyard is a fun and exciting activity for children that allows them to play freely without having to leave home to head to a local park. However, you can extend the fun and value of your playset by placing a sandbox underneath it for sensory play for your children no matter their age.
We will discuss the steps for creating a DIY sandbox under a playset, tips for construction, and fun activities that you can do with your kids and amongst themselves.
Find A Space for the Sandbox
Take a look at the layout of the playset model. Is there an open space available underneath the play set where you can place the sandbox? If so, this would be the best place to start building it.
For example, some playsets have a small deck high up. that connects to a rock climb or one to two slides. The space underneath this structure is a great starting point in constructing a sandbox. Playsets like this one with a rectangular base make it easy to install a DIY sandbox as this is what the extra space is meant for.
Dig Up the Ground
Once you have a space designated for the sandbox, dig up the ground. If your playset is not on top of a mulch base, dig up the earth on which the playset is standing. Otherwise, remove the mulch and enough of the earth underneath it to accommodate the proper depth of a sandbox.
Sandboxes are usually no more than six inches deep, so if removing the mulch does not create enough space, dig out the earth underneath it as well. Have a standard ruler on hand to push into the ground to measure accordingly.
- Measure the dimensions of where you want the sandbox to go.
- Place wooden or plastic stakes at the corners of where the sandbox will go.
- Dig out enough of the ground that will accommodate the chosen depth of your sandbox.
- Lay down landscape fabric throughout the whole depth of the hole, so your children have a comfy place to sit in the sandbox.
Construct the Base or Purchase a Sandbox Close to the Dimensions
As you discover the dimensions of the ground you dug up for a sandbox, you can now shop for sandboxes that are close to those dimensions that can fit inside of it. Complete this step only if you prefer to not construct a DIY sandbox.
Browse local home improvement or department stores and compare and contrast the dimensions of rectangular sandboxes to the dimensions you took of the dug-up ground in the second step. Find a sandbox as close to the dimensions as possible so it can properly fit inside the hole.
If you are constructing the unit from scratch, you must find wooden pieces for the base and four sides surrounding the sandbox to the exact dimensions of the hole underneath the playset.
Construct the DIY Sandbox
Visit your local home improvement store to get enough wood cut to the size of the dimensions needed to construct your DIY sandbox. You do not have to purchase a specific type of wood for a sandbox.
However, if you want the sandbox to match the wood used for the playset, consider getting the same wood for the sandbox. Take a look at the owner’s manual on the playset to find out which type of wood was used to construct it. Then, you can go from there to find wooden slabs to construct the sandbox.
Alternatively, you can find scrap wood at local junkyards or even big box stores that do not need their wooden pallets anymore. Rather than looking for the same wood, you can utilize this method and then get a wood stain that is the same color as your children’s playset to achieve that desired cohesive design.
Once you have all the components to construct your sandbox, it’s time to build.
- Position the wooden slabs fitted to the measured dimensions in the proper area.
- Drill the connecting corners with at least three three-inch wood screws so that the sides stay secure.
- Position the sandbox where you want under the playset.
- Lay down landscape fabric around the edges and slightly up the sides of the sandbox.
- Cut the extra landscape fabric off and staple them into place with wood staples.
Choosing the Size of Your DIY Sandbox
When building your sandbox, you want to consider not only how much space you have underneath the playset, but also how many children will be playing inside of it simultaneously. Some children like to sit directly inside the sandbox while playing while others prefer to sit on the edge of the outside of it. Consider your children’s usual play styles and how many children are in your home before finalizing the sandbox size.
Of course, if your children have friends over frequently, consider the play space to accommodate them as well. If there are too many children in the backyard at once, you will have to supervise and ask that only two to three children play in the sandbox area simultaneously until it is another set of children’s turns.
The depth of a sandbox can range from as little as four inches deep to as much as 10 inches in depth. The average sandbox depth is about six inches. However, if your child likes to dig deeper holes than that, you might want to go about two to five inches deeper than the maximum.
What Type of Sand Do I Need for a Sandbox?
When shopping for sand, keep in mind that some contain crystalline silica dust, which is not safe for children to play with. Even brands that manufacture “child-safe sand” companies allow for this ingredient to be inside play sand.
Constant exposure to crystalline silica can cause renal disease and lung and respiratory issues down the line. Also, purchasing a very dusty variety can cause children’s allergies to flare up.
Consider an all-natural sand brand that contains minimal dust and is also non-toxic. While this is more expensive than standard sandbox sand, it is better to err on the safe side for your children’s health than to go low cost.
Varieties of non-toxic white sand are better than the usual brown sand that you see in sandboxes. There is not as much dust that floats in the air while playing and does not smell as pungent as brown sand.
Speaking of cost, once you find a few brands that fit this description, compare and contrast the price at your local home improvement store. You can still cut costs by opting for an all-natural brand while finding the most cost-effective one on the market.
Calculate Volume To Determine How Much Sand You Need for A Sandbox
How much sand you would need for a sandbox would depend on its dimensions and depth. Calculating the volume will help you to discover how much sand you will need. The equations are as follows
V= l x b x h
Volume= length x breadth x height
For example, a standard 5” x 5” x 8” sandbox that accommodates sandbox sand six inches deep is about 12.5 cubic feet. This means you will need about 25 bags of play sand if one standard 50-lb bag fills up 0.5 cubic feet of space in the sandbox.
This amount was achieved with the following equation calculations
V= l x b x h
V= 5” x 0.5” x 5”
V=12.5 cubic feet
The length and height are both 5” in this example. The breadth would be the six inches deep of sand needed to fill the sandbox. Hence, you need to change the inches to feet to correctly calculate the number of cubic feet of sand for the sandbox.
How To Cover Your Sandbox When Not In Use
To preserve the play sand inside the sandbox for a longer time, you will want to cover the unit to stave off pests, rain, and other elements. There are many methods to cover your sandbox when it’s not in use.
Make A Wooden Cover
Measure the exact dimensions of the sandbox and have a wooden rectangle cut to the dimensions at your local home improvement store. If you are a handyman, you can cut scrap wood to the dimensions using a manual or electronic saw in your garage.
Use A Tarp
Find a tarp large enough to cover your sandbox. If you cannot find one to the dimensions you need, grab a couple of tarps and clamp them down on the sides of the sandbox to hold them in place in case it rains or gets very windy when it’s not in use.
Place A Weighted-Edge Sandbox Cover On the Top
A weighted-edge sandbox cover that fits the dimensions of your sandbox can also protect the sand inside. As you build your sandbox, try to reassure the dimensions of the weighted-edge sandbox closely match your sandbox’s true dimensions.
If your children get too excited and attempt to run under the playset where a sandbox is located, it can become a trip hazard. Caution your children are to watch your step once you have installed a sandbox underneath their playset. Tell them to gingerly exit the sandbox when they are done playing with it without running so that they do not trip.
Watch your little ones carefully as they climb and navigate the deck above the sandbox. If one of them falls from the top deck and onto the sandbox structure, it can result in bad injuries. Stay close by adjacent to the top deck at all times in case you have to catch one of your children if they fall.
When installing the sandbox, try to cover as much of the underneath of the playset as possible. If the entire space of the sandbox does not cover the full bottom of the playset, reassure there is a path your children can use to navigate around the mailbox to get to another part of the playground.
If your children touch the outer edges of the sandbox, be aware that splinters can happen. At least once a month, smooth out the wood with some sandpaper to reduce the sharp edges on the corners and to lessen the likelihood of your children getting a splinter if they touch the wood.
Sand Activities You and Your Children Can Enjoy
Turn boring old sand into a lovely sensory activity for children of all ages. Here are some sand activities that you and your children can enjoy together or do amongst themselves with your guided supervision:
- Host a sandcastle contest during the summer. You may have to moisten the sand a bit for the castle structures to be strong and sit on top of one another. Have a kiddy pool set up nearby to mimic a beach-like experience.
- Have your children create a volcano-like structure with the sand. Use red and orange kinetic sand to mimic the lava. Clean out the kinetic when finished and replace it with more sandbox sand.
- Bring out large plastic vehicles and dig “roads” in the sand to make pretend the sandbox is a city.
- Turn the sandbox into a construction plant with toy dump trucks and excavators.
- Get some old wooden spoons and bowls and have the kids pretend they are baking a cake or cookies to sell at a bakery.
Get creative and listen to your children’s ideas so you can always have a new activity idea lined up for the sandbox. Now that you have a sandbox built under the playset for your kiddos, learn how to repel mosquitos from your backyard so that they can play longer into the evenings during the summer months.
Building a sandbox under your playset can take a few hours of work, but it can turn into a family activity in which everyone can help out and contribute to the project. Once the sandbox is constructed, the kids can help to fill the sandbox with small pails of sand (if they are younger) or shovels (if they are older).
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