BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home

7 Free Plans for Backyard Sandboxes & Sandpits

Ahh, the sandbox: Where battles are waged, dreams are built, and dynasties born.

There is no more ubiquitous childhood experience than time spent in a sandbox. Shovel in hand, sand between the toes, brows furrowed — it’s a serious, fun, inspiring time for any child.

This summer, maybe it’s time for your kids’ day in the sandbox-building sun. We unleashed our robots on the web and they scoured the internets to find you these awesome sandbox-building plans… and all for free!

So, go ahead, pick a plan and create a whole new universe for your little tyke.


1. The standard, classic plan

Over at This Old House they’ve got this really, really basic sandbox that’ll do the trick for just about any kid, because hey, there’s sand! The problem is there’s no accompanying plan for a sandbox cover, and anyone who knows about sandbox maintenance knows you want a cover to keep the critters and gross stuff out.

But that could be easily amended, as this box will certainly be an easy weekend task for any novice builder.

This is a similar approach but the plans are much more fun (but less detailed) to look over, and it comes with how to make a great cover with doors. Either way, this is a commitment build, so you’d best be picking a great location you don’t mind having a sandbox in for the long haul!

2. The pants-saver box

This bench-and-box plan is a great beginning, because it simplifies a project that has a lot of great things going for it. It technically has a cover, but I’m not sure ½” gaps between boards are ideal, but it’s certainly breathable for the sand. Still, the cover folds back to create great little benches for the kids to sit on and play, if they like.

Look at the accompanying photos, because a lot of folks have successfully used the plans and sent in shots of their successful builds. I love the version someone made right up against a fence so they could make a canvas sunshade over the play area. Here’s a variation on that same plan.

3. The big-but-portable sandbox

If changing residences is on your horizon, you might not want to put a ton of effort into a sandbox that’s dug into the ground. You’ll need some friends to help you to move this sandbox, so it’s not a “Hey, honey! Let’s take the sandbox to Bob’s!” kind of thing, but instead, it’s a good-sized sandbox that you can put on the moving truck when you head to your new home.

4. The toddler box with cover

Kids really don’t need a huge sandbox. If it’s smaller, you might change the sand more often and keep it a happy, healthy place to play. This is the perfect small sandbox for 2-3 toddlers to play in, and includes designs for making a simple, useful cover, all for about $100.

For most kids, this will be enough, and if you’ve got a smaller yard, it won’t cramp your space. If it were me, I’d be lining this box with some vinyl or something that will provide additional help to prevent moisture from rotting the wood prematurely. For another $10 and a half-hour labour, why not, right?

5. The sand table

If you’re in a super-small townhouse or condo where you only have a few square feet of play area, you might want the fun of sand without the footprint of a hard-to-move sandbox. This little table is a great weekend project that, when you need a little extra table area for entertaining, can be a great double-duty item.

I’d want to knock a couple inches off the legs and put locking casters on the bottom, though, so I could wheel it around — a life-saver if “the adults want to talk” and moving the kids 20 feet away turns the volume down.

6. The wine barrel sandpit

Another great small-space “sandbox” is simply cutting an old wine barrel in half and filling it with some sand. Sure, it’ll only fit one toddler, but at least it’s a simple, contained, and easy-to-move small playspace that can fit just about anywhere, especially in small urban patios.

7. The tractor tire sandbox

If you’re not a fan of woodworking but still want to make a sandbox, a tractor tire is a great way to go! With a fun paint job, a couple cut-up pool noodles, and an old beach umbrella, you’ll have a quirky, fun place for kids to play around in the sand. We had these at my elementary school and I remember really loving them.

Your sandbox?

What are some childhood memories you’ve got relating to a sandbox?

Have you got a sandbox  for your own children? Did you build it yourself?

Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.

Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.

1 Comment

  1. Cathie Nelson Reply to Cathie

    In our city garden we needed a larger sandbox for kids….so we got a boat that no longer could be used on water, moved it to our children’s garden and filled it with sand….thus it is our “Sand-boat”. The children love it !!! Next to sitting on its side and is a 10 feet long and hollow, an Elm Tree Trunk, It is quite fun for the kids to run through the tree or climb on top. Both cost us nothing and are used all season long by the kids.

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