Well, summer officially begins soon and we’re already beginning to see much more of our friend, the sun. Time for tidying the garden, planting flowers and planning new crops. The problem is, we’ve got two garden-loving little boys who love the idea of pulling up sticks, digging and burying things but don’t understand that some things (namely seed potatoes) are meant to stay buried.
So, Gem and I set ourselves the task of trying to curb this behaviour, at least until it’s time to dig up our potato crop at the end of summer. What better way to encourage their love of digging (and preserve the veg-plot) than by building them a homemade sandpit?
Luckily we had lots of scrap wood lying around from house renovations and a workshop full of useful tools to get the job done.
Before I did anything however, we worked out how big the sandpit needed to be by laying out a blanket on the floor and imagining how much space would be required per tot. We decided that a footprint of 100 x 120cm would be just right and not only give enough room for the two boys, but also enough space for their cousins when they came to visit.
Construction Gets Underway…
The base of the sandpit is made from a sheet of thick outdoor plywood cut to the right size. I made some short posts out of scrap wood and screwed them at each corner and side of the plywood base. I made sure that each of the posts’ corners were rounded off as I didn’t want any cuts and scrapes for the children when they were playing in it.
The sides are made from various pieces of thin planks we had lying around – there’s some tongue-and-groove, planks, even an old shelf! Some were originally painted, others had moss growing on them and they looked great when I sanded them down with the belt sander. They’re not all the same width or depth but they’re near enough, it gives the sandpit some character!
The sides of the sandpit go slightly above the top of the corner/side posts. This is so that the batons that the tarpaulin is fixed to have somewhere to hide. The tarp was about £5 from the builder’s merchants and is rolled around a thin wooden baton at each side, with the excess pulled down between the tarp and the wooden sides. I had to do a little trimming of the tarp and a bit of reverse-engineering to make sure everything fit, but our eldest loved helping out. He had the very important job of keeping the tarp in position while I fixed the batons down; he even had a (supervised) go with the drill and loved it.
The only new wood I used was for the rim of the sand pit – I felt that it would be stronger and safer than using reclaimed stuff. These were sanded smooth and had their edges rounded using the sander. Getting the angles right, even with a proper mitre-chop saw was not an easy task but thankfully once things were sanded down it all came together – the boys wouldn’t notice anyway!
Finally, I tacked some very thin batons to the underside of the pit just to lift it off the ground a little. This is so it wouldn’t go moldy or rotten during the winter. A couple of coats of varnish, pour in the bags of sand and we’re done! I also made a simple wooden lid out of an old lightweight palette with some cupboard door handles to lift it off with. For the moment we’ve put another tarp over the top of this and weighing it down with bricks, but I will eventually add some bungees and pegs to hold it down properly.
The Sandpit is Finally Finished!
All in, the pit itself cost about £15 and 6 bags of sand another £20 and has already been played in every warm day we’ve had (which has been quite a lot actually!) We’ve got plans to add some kind of sun cover for the summer to keep everyone cool but we’re not sure of the design yet.
All in all, it was a really fun bank-holiday project; something that is going to be played with for years and that the boys had a part in making too.
We’ll let you know if the potatoes survive…