Making an outdoor teepee is a fun and easy project that will provide a natural play area for your children. Who needs expensive plastic playground equipment when there’s old free tree branches lying around anyways?
There are lots of different variations and ways to embellish your teepee once you get the frame up…anything from being completely covered with bark to having living walls with something like beans or flowering vines!
- Long Sticks: I drove around in my husband’s pick up truck and stopped along the side of the road whenever I found some really good long branches. Look for a few that have like a “v” at the top so that they can interlock and form the base when you get started.
- Shovel: You want one with a point that you can really step on.
- Gardening Gloves: These are optional, but be warned, you will end up with dirt under your fingernails!
- Make a Circle: Stand in the center of where you want your teepee and using a small to medium stick, draw a circle around yourself. Mark the edges of the circle by scoring it with your shovel.
- Plan Your Opening: Consider the position of the sun (if you want to have shade or not) and the location in relation to the rest of your yard. I wanted my opening to face the center of the yard so that I could always see who was inside, even though this meant that it would be really sunny inside all the time.
- Dig Holes: You’ll want to start with three holes for the anchor sticks. Dig a circle (much bigger than your stick…about 8-10 inches in diameter) and take out the piece of sod intact. Continue to dig down about another shovel’s depth. Make sure you leave a lot of loose soil at the bottom.
- Anchor Sticks: You might need some help to steady the three anchor sticks as you place them in at the same time. If you can find at least one stick that has a “v” at the top, it will really help to lock the sticks together at the top. Position the sticks in the ground, and lean them into each other until they are steady.
- Bury the Sticks: Fill in around the stick with all of the loose dirt that was taken out, and then place the piece of sod back on top. Stamp it down with your feet.
- Fill in with Sticks: I buried about eight more sticks, and then I just started leaning the rest of the sticks against other sticks. My little ones liked weaving in and out of the stick openings, so I left some spots more open than others.
- Cover: You can choose to leave the sides somewhat open, continue layering with sticks until it is filled in more, or find some other material such as pine needle branches or bark to fill it in completely. You might even want to grow something like beans or morning glories along the sticks to create some living walls.
I probably had as much fun building this teepee as the kids have had playing in it. Once the weather starts to get nice, my husband and I like having outdoor projects to work on. It’s a fun way to be outside, get a bit of physical activity, and accomplish something! We are currently working on making some big dirt hills covered with sod, stepping stumps, obstacle course, and preparing our garden as we try our best to transform our 1 acre of regulated city land into as natural and fun of an environment as we can. (Here’s a little video of our backyard projects.) It’s going to be a fun summer!