Extending a Limb

Daryl McDonald shares the tips he and Nelson Treehouse & Supply give to DIY-treehouse builders in this web exclusive

For anyone who has seen the television program Treehouse Masters, it would seem that treehouses can only be constructed by experienced professionals in the industry. According to Nelson Treehouse & Supply lead builder Daryl McDonald, who also appears on the program, that’s just not so. Anyone can build a treehouse.

Daryl-McDonald-0861-2_v2_400In addition to its own professional services, Nelson Treehouse & Supply encourages people of all skill levels to have the confidence to build their own treehouse. The key, however, is having the right knowledge.

“We strive to make treehouses as accessible as possible through our website and online store,” McDonald says. “We offer consultation services and provide technical advice for design or construction. . . . [We advise that you] do as much research as possible before starting.”

Much of that research starts with the trees themselves. McDonald suggests working with trees that are 20 years or older, and to stick with trees such as oaks and Douglas Firs. Species that DIY-ers should stay away from include softer woods such as cottonwoods and willow trees. Before any construction begins, the health of the trees should be taken under consideration.

“We always suggest having a local certified arborist come and evaluate the health of the trees before you start building,” McDonald says.

After confirming the health of the trees, McDonald stresses that health concerns of the people building and enjoying the treehouse should also be ensured. For a start, he says limbs that are susceptible to falling (“widow makers,” as McDonald calls them) and other dead parts of the tree should be removed. Although installing railings might seem like an obvious step for some, railing height is an element that is often forgotten. For what it’s worth, McDonald says railings should be at least three feet high.

At the heart of it all, however, McDonald says building a treehouse should be fun.

“If you aren’t comfortable or confident doing it, bring in a professional,” he says.

Those professionals include the trees themselves.

“Let the trees be the guide to your treehouse design,” he says. “Trees are dynamic beings that you’re supporting a structure with, so you have to be respectful of that.”

To learn more about treehouses, and the services Nelson Treehouse & Supply provides, go to their website at www.nelsontreehouseandsupply.com.


*Check out our full-length feature with Daryl McDonald here.