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A simple sandbox can provide a great
place to play, especially for toddlers.

"I'm still fascinated by how entertaining a small backyard sandbox can be for kids," says garden artisan and landscape designer Scott Cohen. If a large playset with swings and a slide is not a feasible option due to available space or budget, a simple sandbox can provide a great place to play, especially for toddlers.

Construction of a square or rectangular backyard sandbox is fairly simple. The most important consideration is placement of the sandbox. The site must have good drainage and partial shade is best to provide protection from harmful UV rays, but still allow the sun to dry wet sand after a rain. You'll also want to make sure that the sandbox is installed in a location where you can see the kids from inside the house.

A variety of materials can be used to build the structure of the sandbox, just make sure they are durable enough to be used outdoors. Some custom sandbox designs include seats around the edges or a box for storing toys. Finally, the sandbox should be filled with play sand - regular sand won't work as well for molding and castle building.

  • Pro Tip: Keep a sandbox small enough that a standard piece of 4 foot by 8 foot plywood can be used as a cover when not in use.

    - Garden Artisan Scott Cohen, The Green Scene

Sandbox Frame Material Options:

  • Wood - cedar, redwood or pressure-treated
  • Cast concrete curbing
  • Recycle an old tractor tire

Sandbox Design Tips:

  • The bottom of a sandbox should be lined with landscaping fabric that will block weeds without impeding water drainage

  • Purchase or have a cover made to keep the sand box from turning into a giant litter box for the neighborhood cats when it is not in use

  • If you don't want to cover the sandbox, a motion-activated scarecrow sprinkler will also keep cats away

  • When the kids outgrow the sandbox it can be converted into a raised bed vegetable garden


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