Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to get your kids off the screens and go enjoy the outdoors instead. One way you can change this is by making your backyard a fun place for little ones to imagine and explore so they’ll be excited to play outside. Installing an above ground pool is one way to do this, but if you’re looking for something that’s a little more space and budget-friendly, putting in a sandbox in your backyard can offer hours of entertainment for your child. With the right planning and the help of a sand calculator, you can make a sandbox all on your own—and your kid will thank you for it!
1) Decide How Big You Want Your Sandbox To Be
The first step in building your own sandbox is deciding just how big you want it to be. It’s up to you, but one of the main things to factor in is the size and layout of your backyard. Take a look at your yard and see where there’s a level area not too far away from the house (you want to be able to easily keep an eye on kids while they’re playing). It’s also a good idea if the location is shaded so the kids get some protection from the sun while enjoying the sandbox.
When planning your sandbox size, don’t forget to take into account that more than one kid might be playing inside the sandbox at a time. Perhaps you have more than one child or your child(ren) will have friends or family over to play. Obviously, a larger one will cost more and it is easy to calculate that it will require more sand to fill.
2) Choose What to Make the Perimeter From
Once you’ve found the perfect spot for your sandbox and figured out how big you can make it, you need to choose what type of wood to use for the perimeter. There are many different options, but some of the more popular choices are cedar, redwood, cypress, heartwood, and ironwood.
The most important things to consider when picking wood for your sandbox project is that you want one that’s resistant to rot so it can better withstand the elements as it’ll be outside day in and day out. Sand still retains a lot of moisture which means more exposure to moisture for the sand enclosure. You should also try and avoid chemically treated wood because you want the sandbox to be a safe space for kids to play in that’s free of potentially harmful toxins.
Before buying wood at a home improvement store, check for places to buy scrap wood in your community because it will likely save you even more money.
3) Calculate How Much Sand You’ll Need
Next up is the actual sand. When you know the dimensions for your project, it’s easy to figure out how much sand you will need for a sandbox using an online sand calculator. Input the width, length, and height of your sandbox in the calculator, and it will tell you exactly how many cubic yards of sand you’ll need.
If you’ve already done some research and know the price of sand per ton, you can put that into the sand calculator, too, and it will tell you how much all the sand will cost. This helpful function can assist you with your planning: You may decide that you need to scale back your sandbox size to accommodate your budget, or maybe you’ll see that you can afford to make an even bigger one than you initially planned.
4) Keep the Sandbox Protected and Safe
To make your DIY sandbox well protected, invest in a sandbox cover so you can stop things like outside dirt, sticks, leaves, and even rain from getting in. A sandbox protector could also stop the neighborhood cats or other animals from leaving some unpleasant surprises inside. Having a sandbox cover will cut down on the time and energy you need to spend on maintenance. With bad maintenance you may need to use a sand calculator more than once if replacing the entire sand becomes necessary due to it becoming polluted.
Whether or not you have a cover, make it a habit to look through your sandbox every now and then to remove any debris that may have gotten in or any broken toys that need to be thrown away. You should also remember to replace the sand every couple of years to keep it clean.
Any home improvement store will have a sandbox cover or materials to make one, but consider choosing a cover made from permeable woven materials instead of something like a tarp, because that can breed bacteria and mold.
5) Plan Sandbox Activities!
In a sandbox, kids can have a grand ol’ time with the bare minimum, making up fantastical scenarios from whatever they see around them. That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to have some toys in the sandbox to facilitate even more fun. Plastic shovels and buckets, sand molds, and dinosaur fossil figures are just a few ideas for what you can add to your sandbox.
If your kids need some extra ideas for how to play in their brand new sandbox, you can bury some objects to make a fossil or treasure hunt, have them do a sandcastle contest, or let them pretend they’re at the beach. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fun sandbox activities.
Making a sandbox in your own backyard can be a fun DIY project and give your kids more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. After scouting out the perfect spot and choosing the wood for the box’s perimeter, use a sand calculator to figure out just how much of the material you need to fill it up. Soon enough your children will be having a blast in their very own sandbox!
Cindy is a freelance writer and editor with previous experience in marketing as well as book publishing. Along with her content writing for a diverse portfolio of clients, Cindy’s work has been featured in Thrillist, The Points Guy, Forbes, and more.