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How to Build a Treehouse Without Hurting the Tree: These 9 Amazing Tips Will Help You

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A treehouse is an excellent relaxing and enjoyable space for children and adults. It can serve as a playing pen for your kids and serve as an escape resort for adults to sit back and take their time off. We have got you covered if you didn’t know how to build a treehouse without hurting the tree.

You can build a treehouse for your children to have their own creative space to play around. Or you can use your arboreal abode as your reading nook to sit back and enjoy a book and connect with nature. It could be a simple sitting platform or a piece of architectural artisanship. However, you may like it to be, possibilities are limitless.

With our excellent tips and tricks, learn how to build a tree without hurting the tree.

How to Build a Treehouse Without Hurting the Tree
Treehouse – via Pxhere

9 Tips on How to Build a Treehouse Without Hurting the Tree

Preventing your tree from getting damaged is very important to preserve nature and have a sturdy foundation to support your treehouse. Follow our guide to learn how to build a treehouse without hurting the tree using 12 extremely helpful tips.

1.     Plan Your Structure

You may get inspired by those lovely treehouse shows and decide to build one for your kids or yourself. That treehouse could be a child’s playing area or a treetop speakeasy for adults. But don’t let that rush of inspiration fool you because building a treehouse is not as easy as it may seem.

To build a treehouse, you need to plan everything thoroughly and evaluate all the factors before starting. Rushing into a construction project without having a proper plan of action could be risky and might even result in injuries. So, before you get all excited and take out your toolbox, consider the following things first.

  • Call an arborist: call a professional to examine your tree and determine whether it is healthy and sturdy enough to handle a treehouse.
  • Comply with codes: check your local building and community codes to ensure you are eligible to build a treehouse.
  • Sketch out the blueprints: create a thoroughly planned blueprint for your treehouse, keeping the size and design in mind.

2.     Choose the Right Type of Tree to Build a Treehouse

Choosing a tree of the right type is extremely important as it will support the actual structure of your treehouse, determining its height, size, and weight.

Trees are categorized into two main types:

  1. Deciduous trees: their leaves fall in the autumn season, and they have a slower growth rate than coniferous trees. They have dense and durable wood ideal for a treehouse.
  2. Coniferous trees: these trees have leaves all year round, growing throughout the year. Their wood is soft and breaks easily.

Ideally, deciduous trees are preferable for building treehouses; however, if you live in an area with mostly coniferous trees, don’t worry. Some coniferous trees can also be used to build treehouses. Some examples are given:

  • Oak – deciduous
  • Hemlock – coniferous
  • Douglas Fir – coniferous
  • Cedar – coniferous
  • Beech – deciduous
  • Maple – deciduous
  • Apple – deciduous

You should avoid the following trees: cottonwood, willow, spruce, or birch.

3.     Considering the Size of the Tree

Knowing the size of a tree is important to building an appropriately sized treehouse. If you are building an eight by 8-foot treehouse, ensure that the tree trunk is about 12 inches.

If you plan to build a larger and more intricately designed treehouse, consider choosing a larger tree to support it.

4.     Check for Signs of Sickness in Tree

Before building a treehouse, ensure that the tree is healthy. If you build a treehouse on a sick tree, it may collapse and result in injury. A sick tree may live on for a couple of years, but the added burden of a treehouse will make it deteriorate at a much faster rate.

Check for the following signs of illness in a tree:

  • Broken or clustered branches
  • Leaning tree
  • Leaves with spots, discoloration, abnormally large or small size, weird growths on leaves, etc.
  • Fungal growth
  • Lack of bark
  • Sap dripping from the trunk
How to Build a Treehouse Without Hurting the Tree 2
a treehouse for a family? – via Flickr

5.     Ensure the tree has Ample Room to Grow

A young tree focuses more energy on growing tall while a mature tree expands. To avoid the disfigurement of the tree, leave some gaps between the tree and the beams of your treehouse. It will provide the tree with enough room to grow without damaging the structure of the treehouse or hurting the tree.

6.     Protect the Tree’s Bark

A tree’s bark is like the human skin, acting as a barrier and protecting the tree from any outside pathogens. By nailing into the bark, you might damage the tissues under the surface, which carry out important functions in the growth and functioning of the tree and keeping it healthy.

If the bark is damaged, it will expose the tree to various pathogens, bacterial infections and hinder the normal function of the tree’s body. It is not the safest bet if you are using ropes, cables, or webbings. They may put a lot of strain on the tree’s body and damage the bark from friction between the tree and ropes.

Remove the cables every once to let the tree recover from strain and maintain its health.

7.     Avoid Damaging the Roots

Roots are the essential part of the tree in keeping it healthy and sturdy. If you damage the roots, it will weaken the tree and make it more prone to falling sick. Be more careful, especially if you install beams and vertical columns to support your treehouse. When you peg the columns in the soil, they may damage the roots.

8.     Set the Treehouse’s Hardware Wide Apart

When you insert a nail or bolt in a tree, it may heal itself and close off that damaged area over time. But if you add too many bolts and nails close to each other, then the tree might not be able to handle and heal that much damage. To prevent this, try to spread out your bolts and nails as wide as possible.

Instead of using bolts and nails, you can use tree attachment bolts (TABs). They are specialized hardware tools designed to keep the protection of trees in mind.

Ozco Building Products 56696 1/2-inch by 6-inch to 8-inch OWT Timber Bolts (2 per Pack)
  • Includes: (2) 1/2-inch by 6-8-inch OWT Timber Bolts
  • Most attractive through bolt available
  • Pre-drill with 1/2-inch auger bit
  • 3/8-inch hex driver required to tighten bolt
  • Bolt is infinitely adjustable in the described size range

9.     Make the Treehouse Lightweight

Ensure that the treehouse is made as lightweight as possible so the tree can support the structure. Even building a fancy and enormous treehouse, you can switch many materials to get lighter weight. Instead of using bricks or flagstones, you can use stone wallpapers instead. Keeping the weight minimum should be a priority.


A treehouse can be an amazing embellishment to your lovely home. If you are nostalgic for your childhood treehouse or want a relaxing place to lay back, then taking on this project might be a great idea.

However, building a treehouse is not as easy as it may seem. A lot of work and planning goes into it, and the most important factor to take care of is the tree itself. Your tree needs to stay healthy to ensure that your treehouse is well-supported, safe, and sturdy.

With our amazing tips, now you know how to build a treehouse without hurting the tree. Share your treehouse stories with us in the comments below!