Monday, July 19, 2010

Guest Post: The humble sandbox

I am getting ready to go on vacation, but I wanted to take a moment to feature this guest project in case you are looking for any outdoor DIYs.

While sandboxes have always been a backyard staple, their design has come along way. 

Here is a photo of me and my BFF in my 70s childhood sandbox (built by my dad).  Note: we are sitting on two very large rocks.  My dad excavated those rocks especially for that sandbox. It was a special design element which started and ended there.

Jump ahead thirtyish years and there are now so many ideas out there to make the humble sandbox a feature in your space.  If you have big yard that might not be necessary, but if you have a small city yard, you may want each element in that 12 foot wide space to have some aesthetic appeal. 

My pal was inspired by this post on Crazy Daisy and this outdoor space on Ohdeedoh featuring a sandbox in the shape of a sailboat.

Here's more about N's project which uses an existing plastic sandbox:

Rather creating a free standing sandbox like Crazy Daisy's, I retrofitted cedar to an existing Little Tykes sandbox.    In addition to a plastic sandbox, you will need:

** Note: the measurements of your wood will depend on the dimensions of your sandbox.  This is what I used for the Little Tykes sandbox.
(4) 2” x 8” x 8’ cedar deck boards
(1) 2” x 4” x 12’ cedar deck board (cut in half)
(4) steel eyelet hooks
(1) 48” x 1 ¼” wooden dowel
(2) yards outdoor fabric
(4) grommets
(4) 10” bungee cords or some alternative such as rope *
(5) bags of play sand
(1) box of 3” deck screws (for cedar)

We had all the lumber cut at the store, which saved a lot of time and effort since we don’t have a saw!

First, we cut two 8’ deck boards to make a box or frame around the sandbox and secured the deck boards with the deck screws. (No predrilling was required. Bonus!)

We cut the remaining two 8’ deck boards and secured them to the top of the box as a ledge. Not only does this prevent little feet from getting caught between the cedar box and the plastic sandbox, but it also provides the children with a ledge to sit on.

We then took the 2” x 4” which we had cut in half, and secured it to frame. These posts will act as the “masts” for the sail. We measured between the two “masts”, had the dowel cut to size, and secured it with the deck screws.

All that was left to do was to sew the sail, install the grommets* and the eyehooks, and set it up. We placed the cedar frame on top of the plastic sandbox. This was actually easier and more secure than trying to wedge the sandbox into the frame.

It was an instant hit with our boys and we no longer feel land locked.

*An alternative to using grommets and bungee cords, is to simply sew a casing, thread some rope through it, and tie it to the eyehooks. {You should routinely inspect for your bungee cord for safety so that it is not stretched too tight or that it is not compromised in anyway to avoid risk of injury}

One note: this is not an inexpensive project. Cedar is pricey, but safe for children and looks great. A few extra dollars bought us peace of mind knowing that we were not exposing our boys to the harmful chemicals that are present in pressure treated lumber.

Thanks N, I think your sandbox looks fabulous! I really like the fact that it is covered (city yards have raccoon problems).  N has been talking about getting a little anchor or life preserver to embellish the lumber holding up the sail.  It will be a nice touch.

Other great ideas for sandboxes can be found on flickr.  Three of my favourites are

Pink Lemonade's colourful market umbrella sandbox
and scrap timber posts at Milkmaid 1979
Thanks for stopping by and have a great week,

This post is linked to


The DIY Show Off


  1. This looks great! Thanks for the shout out! Love the red color and the use of your plastic sandbox! Enjoy!

    Happy Day,
    jasey @ Crazy Daisy

  2. That is absolutely adorable! I love that the sail provides some nice shade for the kiddos.

  3. This is adorable andnow on my to-do list for my hubs of course! Thanks for sharing!


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