DIY Sandpit

If you have a yard, one of the best toys you can put in it is a sandbox.  Kids can spend hours in the sandbox almost any time of year.  A little rain only makes it more fun!

Never wanting to be traditional, I didn’t want a sandBOX.  I wanted to create something myself that would meld into nature and would allow my toddler (“J”) to play in it along with the rest of the yard — not as a separate entity.

I was inspired by the amazing sandpits at the Waldorf preschool where J and I do some classes.  They compare to some of these amazing sandpits:

Tree stumps, a marooned boat, big shovels, huge space — what’s not to love?

Large free-form space, tree stump, little stones/shells

I’m sort of in love with tree stumps — can you tell? Here I love how they create playspaces and give a pleasantly confined feel to the pit. I also like how the greenery comes right up to the edge of the sandpit

Our backyard has been a mess since we moved in several years ago, so finding a space to put a sandpit was not a challenge.  I spent our first years here pulling all the English ivy out of the yard, and this year we finally got around to putting in a little grass and edging, but there was a nice spot next to our garage that was calling out for a sandpit.  So, here it is:


It turns out that tree stumps are super heavy — ha!  Who would have guessed?  We were lucky enough to find a neighbor with a tree that was recently cut down, but even though they had some amazing stumps, it was impossible to take the really awesome, really huge ones.  We took the ones we could manage to haul away.

Enter the second challenge — cutting tree stumps!  I am notoriously bad about cutting myself with even the smallest knives or scissors, so I wasn’t about to get near a chainsaw.  My dear husband kindly cut the really rough edges and used his power sander on the stumps, and that was as much as we could do.

I’d love to have a few more stumps and have them at some different heights than these are, but they provided a good enough barrier and a nice workspace.  After some digging and lots of sand-dumping, we have ourselves a sandbox to dig in!

Advice for building a sandpit:

  1. Get as many of the materials as you can for free.  I love the look of natural items, and they can force you to be more creative in order to make them work in your space.  Although they were hard to move, the tree stumps we got for our sandpit really make it.
  2. Dig into the space where your sand will go to avoid having to dig too deeply for your stumps.  I found it easiest to dig a shallow hole for the sand and pile the dig around the stumps, rather than try to dig very deeply into the ground to stabilize the stumps alone.  Our space had a lot of big tree roots close to the surface, so it was impossible to dig very deep.
  3. Don’t underestimate how much sand you will need.  I ended up using 20 bags of play sand from Home Depot, and I think it would be ideal if I added another 4-5 bags on the top.  If you can get your sand cheaply through bulk delivery, it might be worth it.
  4. Make a plan for covering your sandpit after you are finished.  I’m temporarily using a tarp and some landscaping fabric, but it’s not a perfect solution.  Since our trees are dumping piles and piles of leaves right now, it’s essential to cover the sandpit.  Furthermore, you don’t want cats and other animals using it as a litter box.