Luxury Garden designs and The Brit Family Robinson
Treehouses were something of a magical phenomenon in our youth – an adolescent fortress of solitude that transformed each of us into our own Peter Pan or Tiger Lily. Construction of a treehouse was regarded as a group undertaking between parents and siblings and friends – I remember ours was a ramshackle affair made of recycled wooden pallets and surplus fence posts. Creativity was king.
Over the years an industry in luxury garden designs has sprung up around this primal yearning for a shelter borne of our own hands and heads and so, today, we wanted to discuss the concept of luxury treehouses in your own gardens and how versatile this gem of ingenuity has become. Treehouses no longer belong to children alone, but now to the grownups too – ready to revisit Neverland?
If you wish to build your own treehouse, your first task will be choosing a suitable site, since this will dictate both the size and weight restrictions that will govern your build. Large, well established hardwoods such as Maple, Oak, Fir and Beech trees are best and, while navigating them, check the diameter of the limbs you would seek to use as foundation, since these should be at least eight inches in diameter. Weight distribution should take place as close to the trunk as possible since this is the strongest point in the tree. To ensure a level foundation you could lay cross beams between the main branches stemming out from the tree and if it’s a particularly ambitious project you might consider fabricating entire sections on the ground and then hoisting them into place.
It is important to consider surrounding flora during design because, like many man-made structures, a short sighted piece of architecture can seriously inhibit and even harm nearby ecology. Should the tree itself penetrate the house be sure to allow three inches space around the trunk or boughs that you are containing, as this will allow its diameter to increase without compromising the integrity of the structure. For the same reasons, avoid coiling ropes or lines around these limbs since they will eventually strangle the tree. Ideally several support beams should be mounted from ground level to reduce the stress on the tree, in the interest of both your health, and that of the tree.
You could personalize these elevated spaces -perhaps with family photographs and your children’s art work or even something a little more daring – a zip line perhaps? Firemen’s poles or nets to climb up would be good fun too.
For inspiration, perhaps the most famous existing Treehouse in the UK, and current inauguree to the TripAdvisor hall of fame since 2011, is the hamlet situated at Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. A veritable Carcosa of the canopy, the Alnwick Treehouse has multiple storeys and sustains several ‘rooms’ all interconnected by rope bridge walkways-it even has its own restaurant!
If Alnwick inspires you with its scale and ambition, you might wish to employ a specialist in luxury garden designs to build one for you and there are many out there. The scope of treehouse construction has, in recent years, reached a level equalling that of regular domestic architecture – electricity, plumbing, refrigeration and heating and insulation are now all part and parcel with the luxury treehouse. For the grown-ups you could also install an entertainment system and build your own outdoor cinema or a log fire, as at the restaurant in Alnwick.