Ollie’s sandbox

A couple years ago I constructed a sandbox for my son Oliver. It’s one of the best investments of time and money ever. He plays in it all the time, and it never gets old. I had some requirements:

  • Lid to keep cats, rain, and leaves out
  • Enough volume to make really big sand castles (I want to play in it too!)
  • Good looking — no ugly sandbox for my yard!
  • Big enough for several kids


Click on any pic for super-size.

Ollie helps:

Slightly higher on one side so rain runs off:

Stained and assembled. I originally planned it with a base and feet to sit on concrete, but we later took off the bottom and placed it in the dirt for better drainage (with garden cloth underneath to keep a porous barrier between the dirt and sand). You can also get an idea of how many bags of sand we had to get — about 22:

Ollie dumps in the first bucket of sand:

Year-round fun

Here’s Ollie happily playing in his sandbox in the middle of winter, December 27, 2013. View from my office window.

And this spring:

Helpful links and tutorials

Here is some of the inspiration I used when planning Ollie’s sandbox.

Deluxe DIY Sandbox
This one’s great because the lid is also a deck. Mine’s a bit bigger and deeper, though. We have the space, and we figured there’d often be 4–6 kids playing in it at a time. How to Build a Sandbox with Seats This is the design I used for the basis of mine. Same construction and materials, although I planned one seat and added a hinged lid. Eventually I want to add the awesome faucet idea he had. Toward the end of his article you’ll find out how much sad you’ll need. Sand’s heavy! You’re better of renting a truck.

Sandbox with Chalkboard Lid
I planned to do this but never got around to it. I’m a horrible parent.

The Sandbox Chronicles: Part 2
This one has a double lid, and that’s a great idea I sometimes wish I’d done (the lid’s heavy). Also, their safety chain is a really good idea, we did something similar.

The Sandbox Chronicles: Part 3, The Remix
I don’t, however, advocate using gravel in place of sand. What a terrible sandbox fail that would be. To all those parents who might be worried about silica damaging the lungs of their little ones, just stop, take a breath, and try to think of all the people you know who died of lacerated lungs due to inhaling sand dust. Hundreds? Thousands? …None? Right.

Penofin Verde – Environmentally Friendly Wood Stain
I used this to stain the sandbox before putting it together. It’s not cheap but it’s good.

Sandbox Home Design Photos on Houzz
Finally, for inspiration there are some great contemporary designs on Houzz.

Sandbox faucet
Last but not least, there was a link to an awesome design where the guy ran a new underground water line out to the kids’ sandbox and installed a faucet on a post, with one of these self-closing faucets like the ones used on old-school drinking fountains. It was a brilliant idea, but perhaps too brilliant, because now they guy charges for the plans and doesn’t actually show the pictures of how cool it was (marketing fail). It was great because kids could get all the buckets of water they wanted, but they couldn’t leave it running to waste water. Here it is if you really want to buy it: Look for the Water Station.

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