DIY Sandbox Adventure
Mid July Jeff had his tonsils out. He's been battling constant illness for a few years now, and after a variety of treatments (and other surgeries), we finally ended at a Tonsillectomy. It was awful, so much worse than we expected, but according to his surgeon, his tonsils were gross and truly had to come out. He's doing much better now, but it was a rough few weeks.
During all of this, Mumsy and I decided to build Gracie a sandbox...because we had nothing else going on. Feeling inspired by a friends DIY raised garden beds, we loaded up our Lowes cart, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
We lucked out and began this adventure on the same day the landscapers came. We dug some spray paint out of Jeff's workshop, roughly marked out the area and asked them to mow it down to bare dirt. We headed out to pick up our order, and by the time we got back it was all clear and ready for weed fabric!
Fun fact: you cant do curbside pick up of sand or rubber mulch. While Mumsy waited for them to load up our order, I dashed in the store to purchase what felt like thousands of pounds of sand and rubber mulch. One might say math is not our strong suit, and at 50lbs a bag I was confident I probably couldn't lift all the sand we need, so I settled for 9 bags. I about died. It was also like 1000% humidity that day, and I was wearing a mask. 1 out of 10, do not recommend. After loading up all the supplies we headed home for construction...after a snack break and about 2 gallons of water.
Once home the manual labor began...with our tiny assistant of course. We began by figuring out the placement of our sandbox and playhouse. I snuck into Jeff's workshop and used the one saw I know how to use to cut the boards in half. Of course Jeff heard the noise and came down to investigate. Let the record show, I could have done it all myself, but he insisted making the last cut himself (even though I'm pretty sure he was not supposed to be operating heavy machinery.)
Once we settled on the placement, it was time to secure the corner blocks with rebar. Each corner block has 4 grooves for 2 x 6 boards and a center hole for a 1/2 inch piece of rebar. The section of our yard has a very slight slope and we wanted to be sure the blocks wouldn't move...or tumble down the hill below. We were really dreading this part, but Mumsy was able to easily hammer the rebar in place with a mallet.
Once the blocks were in place we were able to finish assembly. We installed the first course of wood to make sure everything was square. Before placing the second course we stapled an additional layer of weed block landscaping fabric directly to the wood. The wood we used was 2 x 6 ground contact lumber. We purchased 10 ft boards and cut each in half, resulting in a sandbox that is roughly 5 feet by 5 feet. We considered going smaller, and I do think a 4 X 4 sandbox would have been just fine, but she does appreciate having the extra space.
With the sand in place it was time to begin the landscaping. We placed a small picket fence along one side to provide a clear delineation between the play space and the rest of the yard. We also chose to surround her sandbox with rubber mulch and the fence would help to keep this contained. In retrospect, we probably would have chosen a different type of fence, and in full disclosure, we are still whacking it in the ground every time it rains, but it works. Our hope is that the fence a long with the rubber mulch will help deter critters from playing in the box when we aren't out there, but we will likely also cover it.
Last up were the finishing details. We weren't originally planning on adding pavers, but after the first night of play, we decide the rubber mulch was a little pokey on the feet. We initially purchased 4 double sided pavers, but ultimately added 3 more. One was cut in half to finish off the space between the patio and the sand box, and 2 were added between the sandbox and the playhouse.
Finally, we decide to add a bit of whimsy with some faux flowers and pots (more rubber mulch). All of these were things we dug out of the garage or attic and totally unnecessary for the function of the play space- we just thought they were cute! I suppose we could have done real flowers, but this way Gracie can play freely, and no one has to worry about letting plants die!
In case you want to recreate this project at home you will need:
8 corner blocks
8 2x6x5 ground contact boards
A large roll of landscape fabric
4 pieces 1/2 rebar 18"-24" in length
20-30 bags of sand
A staple gun, brute strength and a mallet.