The Best Tree for Tree Houses
Hardwood trees for tree Houses
Question Submitted by Roy J. from Topeka, Kansas
For a while, i’ve wanted a tree house, but im not sure if we have the right kind of trees on my property. I’m wondering what is the best tree to build a tree house on? I have several kinds of trees, but to make a good, sturdy, and safe tree house, what characteristics should a tree have?
Is there a specific kind of tree that makes for the longest lasting tree house?
Big and old
Generally, you are looking for a very established tree that has a very deep root system. Hardwood trees are best for tree houses. Oak, Walnut, Hickory, and Ash are ideal. Cottonwood, and Elm trees make for great tree house trees as well. They All grow into large trees, with strong limbs and hard wood trees don’t sway in the wind as much as the softer ones. Couple a great tree with the perfect tree house plans and you will have an amazing tree house that you can enjoy for years to come.
Depending on how big you want to build your tree house, make sure the trunk is at least as wide as your body and the main limbs you plan to build on are at least 8-10 inches in diameter. Check for signs of rot or weakness in the branches. And since you are interested in longevity, do not build it in a tree that might be sick or dying. Live trees are really the only option since a dead tree might actually break or tip over from the increased weight load. Make sure the tree you build a tree house on has branches that are spread out in a way that you can attach a tree house to in several points. The branches should be stout enough to hold your weight without bending.
Where to build a tree house in a tree
The higher up in the tree you build the tree house, the more it will catch the wind and sway the whole structure. If you build your tree house with branches going through the structure, this will weaken the treehouse as the wind pushes and pulls the branches against the contact points. Be wary of weak looking overhanging limbs that could fall on the tree house and crush it.
The trunk of a tree is the least likely to flex in the wind, so the lower you place your tree house, the less chance it can get damaged by weather. Of course, if you really want a high up tree house, you might consider building it in two (or several) levels connected by ladders. Just keep in mind that the more wind-catching surface you put up on a tree, the more of a wild ride you’ll have in a wind storm!
The best type of tree for tree houses
As stated earlier, you want to go for big strong brances and a well established root system. Some other things to consider is the type of bark covering the tree. Building your tree house in a “scratchy” tree such as an Alligator Juniper I used to climb on as a kid might not be ideal for younger kids. You should also choose a tree with thick, solid bark to build your tree house on. The bark is what brings the water and nutrients to the top of the tree. Once the bark gets damaged to the point that it can no longer feed the tree, your tree will eventually die.
Consider the leaves in the tree and the extra weight that the falling leaves will add to the tree house in the fall. If you built your tree house properly, this shouldn’t be such an issue, but it’s just one more aspect of the best tree to build a tree house on.
The root system is important
Trees with deep, spread-out root systems are ideal for tree houses. The roots carry all the weight of the tree and tree house and trees are pretty smart at compensating for all the new weight you are about to put on it. Soon after building your tree house, the tree will start reinforcing the roots below your tree house to compensate for any balance issues.
Check out the dirt the tree is planted in. Make sure your tree is in hard packed soil and not in loose sand. There are so many factors in finding the best tree to build a tree house on, but as long as you pick an older, sturdy tree, you sould have a treehouse that you can enjoy for years to come.