Build a Tree Platform for Work or Play

Tree platforms have a variety of uses. Tree platforms cans be quiet getaways for children or adults, or a high-up space to feed and invite wildlife and birds. Smaller versions provide seating for vantage-point views and hunting stands.

All tree platforms follow the same basic construction, adjusted to fit the size and characteristics of individual trees. The basics of constructing a tree platform are included here. Measurements will depend on the span of the tree and available branches.

Keep in mind when building tree platforms that the platform must be able to withstand weather elements and wind. The construction should be sturdy and safe, but also needs to allow for some flexibility when wind moves the tree. The materials chosen and how they are used to build a tree platform will help alleviate wind strain.

The best place to build a tree platform is in the notch of a strong tree where two large limbs form a 'v'. Build above the notch itself so that an adequate span for the desired platform size is achieved, but keep the tree platform low enough so the trunk can be used for sturdy support bracing. Before building in any tree, look for signs of disease and rot. Build only in strong, healthy trees.

A tree platform seven feet wide (or less) is a good size that can be reliably built. It is easiest to build at least the frame on the ground, then hoist the tree platform into the tree and secure it with bracing. Hoisting and bracing is at minimum a two person job. Floor boards should be attached to the tree platform frame on the ground as well unless the platform is low enough to the ground or accessible safely for securing floor boards when the platform is in the tree.

Build a rectangular tree platform frame of appropriate size for the tree. Use two by six inch boards for the tree platform frame. Firm the frame and provide a base for flooring by attaching two by four floor joists every two feet. Joists should run with the length of the frame. Use 16d galvanized nails for framing and bracing to the tree. (Tip: Build in the tree when sap is not running to avoid damage to the tree.)

One by six inch boards are best for flooring in tree platforms. Do not use plywood; it will warp and will not allow for movement with the tree. Spacing floor boards will allow for rain water to drain through and prevent rot. Secure floor boards width-wise across the tree platform. Nail only on the ends of the floor boards with ten-penny galvanized nails. Spacing and nailing floor boards only on the ends allows needed flexibility.

Brace the tree platform by running two beams on either side of the tree limbs. The tree platform itself sits atop the bracing beams and is secured to the beams. Provide additional support and security by bracing from the corners of the tree platform back to the tree limb (like an inverted triangle).

If walls or a railing are to be installed on the tree platform, build them at least two feet high. Secure ladders to the tree platform itself, not the tree.

In the absence of a large notched and limbed tree, a tree platform can be built between two large trees. Before beginning, run a cable around each trunk, securing with a turnbuckle (tensioner) in the middle of the cable between the trunks. Pad cable with rubber or garden hose to keep it from cutting into the trees. Brace on each side of the trees as described above for bracing to tree limbs. Additionally, brace a 2 x 6 board in between the trees.

Assemble the tree platform on the ground, then lift into the tree and secure. Brace at each corner.

Tree platforms are built and used by many for both recreational and practical purposes. From playing to hunting, tree platforms provide a relaxing work or play space with a view.