Now that summer weather has hit the North Shore and we have been spending so much time outside, Little One has been enjoying playing in the sandbox at daycare. I decided that it was time to make one at home, too. There are lots of designs to choose from. However, I decided to work with what I have and try making a DIY sandbox without purchasing anything.
Step One- Determining Location
My first step in creating a DIY sandbox was determining the location for it. We have this garden bed in our back yard. We have already let Little One have a bit of free reign on this garden bed. It is in need of a weeding and being under a tree, it is pretty much shaded most of the day. The soil is full of tree roots so it’s hard to grow flowers. My ultimate goal is to include the sandbox and make the other section a great interactive garden for Little One to plant in.
I love taking what I already have and creating something more useful. Using the garden bed, there are already three sides to hold in the sand. I will only have to create a separator in the garden. While the rocks are not ideal, I will try to rearrange them to make the sandbox more accessible.
Step Two-Creating the Sandbox
The first step in creating this sandbox was to dig! I first focused on trying to save any of the plants and transplanting them into the garden section. I put the rest of the dirt on a tarp to be taken to the dump later. I did manage to salvage some dirt for the garden. However, there were a lot of roots which didn’t make it useful. I dug down 5-6 inches, which should be more then enough digging room.
I managed to tackle this DIY sandbox during nap time, so it really didn’t take too long. That also included steps three and four…
Step Three-Sandbox Foundation
The next step was creating the sandbox foundation. I wanted to include a good base for the sandbox or weeds and critters would try to make it home. Of course, I wanted to use recycled materials instead of buying new.
Did you know that cardboard works well as a weed barrier? I have seen them used in the bases of garden beds, so I thought it would work well for a sandbox, too. We had a bunch of it saved up because we haven’t been able to get to the recycle center.
I laid a layer of cardboard over the dirt, overlapping as I went. I then laid down a layer of plastic. I found this sheet of plastic in the garage that was used to wrap a package – I have held onto it all these years and it finally came in use! I tucked the plastic under the wood and the rocks. I left a good amount hanging for the bench I am going to make.
For the separation between the sandbox and garden, I wanted to make a bench of sorts. I knew I would end up sitting in the sandbox playing with Little One, so I wanted to create something that would be more comfortable to sit on. There were some 2x12s left in my wood stash so I joined two pieces together using 45* angles to create the length I needed. I added a piece of 2×4 over the joint to stabilize it. I also used wood on each side of the 45* cut. Using my Kreg Jig, I drilled 4 holes in my two supporting lengths of 2×4. I attached them to my top piece using 2 1/2 inch screws.
I laid the bench in the sandbox. I used one of the legs to hold down the plastic. For the other one, I dug a trench in the dirt. This bench will not last forever, but I don’t need it to. A coat of polyurethane would help it last longer.
The final step in creating this DIY sandbox was filling it with sand! I remember back in my home town there was a sand pit that we always got sand from. I asked around my new town if there was an area that people got sand from. One of my mom’s friends happened to live near one and helped us get some sand. It isn’t as smooth as the stuff from a bag, but Little One has fun all the same!
Little One is having so much fun playing in his new DIY sandbox. I’ve been using some recyclables as buckets for him, but I know Grandma is getting him sand toys for his birthday. I can’t believe he is going to be 2! Time is going by so fast.
If you make a DIY sandbox, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear about your results!