Sandbox

Okay, we switched gears yesterday and we green lighted the sandbox project.  Our little guy’s birthday is coming up and there’s an off-chance the weather might be nice throughout October, so we got rolling on the sandbox starting yesterday.  Also our available weekends are dwindling so I thought it a good idea to start this weekend.

First thing yesterday I spent some time on the internet looking for ideas and, quite frankly, maybe a set of existing instructions to hasten the pace of construction. I saw a lot of great ideas but in the end just designed my own thing.  Some good pointers I did pick up regarding design included: make the box at least 12″ deep so there’s room to dig, and 4’x8′ makes a nice sized sand box.  We wanted our a little bigger, so I designed it to be roughly 6′ x 9′.  To make sure this was a good size I roughed out that size of an area in the Family Room with tables and pillows and asked my clients if this was okay. Both little boys approved and proceeded to play in their pretend Family Room sandbox.

Here’s what I came up with:

6x9 sandbox, with two gravel partitions. Covers slide along the side rails and are removable.

6×9 sandbox, with two gravel partitions. Covers slide along the side rails and are removable.

The unique thing about our sandbox will be the two gravel “pits” at either end. Why limit play time to just sand. We’ll fill each pit with a different size of stones to add some variety. I also plan on sinking some “boulders” into the sand section.  The covers are designed to keep cats from using the sand box as a litter box. Also, my hope is that the covers can double as seats and flat areas to play with trucks and cranes. One thought is to make them reversible so we can flip them over, and I would attach ramps and other features to drive trucks on the back side of some of the covers….we’ll see once I get into constructing the sand box if this is possible.  My only concern is that the covers, made of 5/4 boards, won’t be stiff enough to sit on, or they will sag. Right now I just have a 2×4 on the back side to construct the cover sections.  I’ll adjust the design as necessary once I start building.

Sandbox with all of its covers in place.

Sandbox with all of its covers in place.

Sandbox dimensions. The covers for the gravel pits aren't shown here.

Sandbox dimensions. The covers for the gravel pits aren’t shown here.

The perimeter is made from 2×10’s. I’ll dig down about 6″ then lay in my 2×10’s, connecting them at four points to 2-1/2′ 4×4 posts so the top edge is about 14″-16″ above the bottom of my dig out….ultimately the goal is to get 12″ of sand space plus a couple of inches below the covers.  Once again, I’ll kind of plan as I go and as far as my back will bear digging and clearing earth.

Orange spray paint marks the location of the sandbox. The area receives sun as early as 10am in the Fall, so it should be a nice spot to play all day long. I'll clear out the brush behind the sandbox.

Orange spray paint marks the location of the sandbox. The area receives sun as early as 10am in the Fall, so it should be a nice spot to play all day long. I’ll clear out the brush behind the sandbox.

I've started roughing up the area for the sandbox with a pick ax and tiller. It needs to be cleared and level before I can start building.

I’ve started roughing up the area for the sandbox with a pick ax and tiller. It needs to be cleared and level before I can start building.

We selected a space in the yard by the play set, that gets decent sun, is near where all the “action” is yet is out-of-the-way somewhat.  I marked a 16′ x 6′ rectangle along the west preservation area. The landscape plan shows a planting bed in this area. What I’ll do is take my cool new (yet to be delivered) brush cutter and clear out some of the preservation area from a crab apple tree to the play set and then next year we’ll plant it with the bushes per the landscape plan. This will hopefully keep ticks at bay while the kids play in the sand box. The orientation of the sandbox is right in line with the play set so my OCD should be held at bay. Eventually we’ll flagstone the entire area from porch to sandbox to future pavilion creating one huge outdoor living space for family and friends.

One concern I have is water flow across the area, but I believe the sandbox will be higher than the surrounding area and water will flow across the future patio area between the sandbox and porch towards the north gardens. By the way, our left over landscape fabric will come in handy; I’ll lay down a layer on the ground inside my 2×10 perimeter of the sand box to keep plants from growing up in the sandbox.

After drawing the plans for the sandbox I went up to the lumber store and ordered the pressure treated wood. I have a ton of 5/4 boards left over from house construction so I didn’t need any of those. For ~$120 (w/ delivery and tax) I got two 14′ 2×10’s, a couple of 12′ 2×10’s, a 10′ 4×4 and a pair of 2×4’s. I also ordered a bag of cement for the posts. (Note to my brother  if you’re reading this…yes I just realized you said you had some left over material I can use…Hmm…I’ve got other projects we can use that for….I really want horse shoe pits and / or a bocce court….maybe a bench or something for our nature trail.)  

Once everything was ordered I went home and took a stab at preparing the plot of land for the box.  After pick axing two 6′ lines and a 16′ line I had to sit on the porch and focus on not puking up my lunch. I tried to remember why I liked working outside in the first place. My 4×8 home office cube didn’t seem that bad after all.  My son asked me why I was sitting down and I tried to explain to him that his dad was out of shape and was quite possibly going to die within the next seven minutes. I had visions of dying there in the yard and my kids poking me with a stick for three hours until their mother got home.

Enough manual labor for one day.

I grabbed the electric tiller and started roughing up the ground but was cut short due to a rain delay. All wet and muddy we, the boys and I, trekked back inside, our work done for the day.  I’ll try to venture back out there later today and get the area prepped and ready for the brush cutter and lumber delivery. We should have a sand box in no time.  Though I wonder about where I’m going to get sand and how am I going to get it back there.

One other thing, once I get my new brush cutter, I’m going to free those gum trees and get that bat house planted.  Also I just realized I have to clear a spot for this year’s live Christmas tree.  I can’t believe it’s that time of year already.

Not nearly enough time.

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