14 Treehouse Ideas for Your Backyard Playhouse

Treehouse in front yard tree

There’s something magical about treehouses. It doesn’t seem to matter how old we get, just the sight of a treehouse brings fond memories of the joy and freedom of childhood.

That is, until your children ask you to build one. Then, those thoughts of joy and freedom might become nightmares about buzzsaws, wobbly ladders, and poorly swung hammers meeting unexpecting thumbs.

Where to begin?

It all starts with where to put your treehouse, and how it will fit into your backyard landscaping. Oh, and will that tree you’re eyeing for your children’s hideout support your treehouse and, more importantly, them?

After that, you’ll need some inspiration before you start building. We’ve got you covered there with 14 ideas for awesome treehouses for your kids (or adults who are kids at heart):

14 Ideas for Amazing Treehouse Getaways

1. Build a raised tree deck

Looking up at a treehouse platform from the ground
Photo Credit: Nicolas BoullosaCC CC BY 2.0

You don’t need to construct a majestic palace in the trees to enjoy the fun of a great treehouse. When it comes to DIY treehouses, a tree deck can be the easiest option.

This tree deck idea will get you up off the ground and change your perspective without any walls or roofs blocking the view. You won’t even mind if you can’t see the forest through the trees.

Cost: Low $200, medium $2,000, high $8,000

2. Pick a treehouse theme (castle? pirate ship?)

Castle themed treehouse
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

You might like the idea of a simple treehouse, but why not add some thematic flavor? Try creating a castle in the sky or a treetop pirate ship. Or maybe a mid-century modern or rustic treehouse theme would be better suited for your backyard.

Once you’ve picked a theme, get creative and go to town decorating your treehouse to match. Bonus points for nailing the smallest of details. (Maybe you’d rather not give your children an option of walking the plank.)

Cost: Low $800, medium $20,000, high: $60,000

3. Install swings and slides

Children's playground with slide and swings
Photo credit: Pikist

While a treehouse for your kids is fun on its own, your younger guests will appreciate a little something extra. Hanging a swing or two invites more fun closer to ground level. Adding a slide turns your treehouse into a playhouse.

Even the grown-ups will enjoy watching their kids having fun on their tree fort playset.

Cost: Low $90, medium $450, high $1,000

4. Climb to your treehouse

Child climbing up a wooden rock climbing wall
Photo credit: Pxfuel

Sometimes in life, the journey to the top can be as enjoyable as time spent at the peak. The same is true for treehouses. By adding a climbing wall or a rope ladder, the fun of a treehouse starts as soon as you leave the ground.

Even a tiny treehouse using an A-frame design becomes a next-level play space. And your children get some exercise climbing to their treehouse.

Cost: Low $40, medium $350, high $900

5. Add a unique door to your treehouse

Ladder to treehouse trapdoor
Photo credit: Andreas F. Borchert / CC by SA 3.0 DE

Treehouses can sometimes feel like another world, so why not give yours an otherworldly door for an entrance? There are all kinds of fun door options like the classic trapdoor, the hip barn door, or the swinging saloon door.

The little ones might enjoy a smaller or secret door for the kids’ room in larger treehouses.

Cost: Low $15, medium $100, high $350

6. Take a fire pole or zipline to the ground

Colorful castle playground with girl waiting to use fireman's pole
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Everyone knows that what goes up, must come down. With treehouses, a little creativity can make the going down part fun, too.

Adding a fireman’s pole or zipline makes getting from the treehouse to solid ground both an easy task and a thrilling ride. (Check your homeowner’s insurance before installing this option, though.)

Cost: Low $70, medium $180, high $700

7. Install windows to let in natural light

Treehouse with wall of windows, hammock on the right, and motorcycle parked beneath
Photo Credit: Piqsel

In some cases, the enclosed nature of a treehouse hideaway is part of the draw. For other treehouses, soaking in the treetop views is half the fun.

If yours is the latter, add windows that let you see beyond your own backyard. It doesn’t hurt that the windows will let in some natural light as well.

Cost: Low $30, medium $90, high $250

8. Shine lights on your treehouse

Child's playhouse at night, lit by string lights
Photo Credit: Pxfuel

Speaking of light, you’ll need it if your treehouse will be hosting visitors after sundown.

Wiring a treehouse for electricity might add another level of difficulty, but it will pay off during your evenings in the trees. If that doesn’t work, you can always try an extension cord and string lights.

If your house is busy with children, a treehouse with lights can be a quiet space to study or do homework.

Cost: Low $20, medium $80, high $300

9. Make your treehouse comfortable

Closeup of white and brown pillow
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Whether day or night, you’ll want a comfortable place to sit when you’re high up in your own treehouse. For those that aren’t ready to vault a couch up into the trees, cushions, bean bags, or giant pillows are great alternatives for a comfy getaway.

The right color palette will make it feel like a modern treehouse out of a magazine.

Cost: Low $20, medium $100, high $400 (per pillow or bean bag chair)

10. Go for a grander, multi-level treehouse

Large wooden treehouse with staircase
Photo Credit: Sydchrismom / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For some, simply getting off the ground isn’t high enough. One popular (albeit advanced) solution is to design a multi-level treehouse with varying heights.

You might try a landing at a lower level on the way up to the main treehouse, a crow’s nest or observation deck at the top, or a two-story treehouse for the vertically ambitious.

Pro tip: You might need an architect’s help to make this multi-floor dream treehouse a reality.

Cost: Low $1,000, medium $20,000, high $100,000

11. Create a bridge between treehouses

A treehouse with spiral staircase and a rope bridge
Photo Credit: Treehouse near Cemmaes, Great Britain / Derek Harper / CC SA 2.0

What’s better than a treehouse in your backyard? Two treehouses in your backyard, connected by a bridge.

Whether you choose a sturdy raised walkway or the more hair-raising rope bridge, simply walking from one treehouse to the other becomes an adventure when there’s a bridge involved.

Cost: Low $200, medium $450, high $2,000

12. Deliver lunch via a bucket-and-pulley dumbwaiter

A pulley with a purple background
Photo Credit: Wallpaperflare

Once you’re up in the trees, you’ll want to get your things up there, too. Depending on your method of getting up to your treehouse, that might prove to be cumbersome.

Enter the dumbwaiter. This might be the best (and most fun) way to get your things from ground level to treehouse height.

Simple and easy to install, a pulley-powered dumbwaiter is the perfect way to transport supplies to your aerial fortress.

Cost: Low $10, medium $100, high $2,500

13. Support your treehouse with stilts

Wooden treehouse on stilts
Photo Credit: emdot / CC BY 2.0

If you don’t have any trees in your backyard, or the ones you do have aren’t suitable for a treehouse, don’t fret. Anyone can create a “treehouse” by using supportive stilts to raise things up a level.

The use of stilts can even up things to even more creative treehouse designs since you won’t be confined to twists and turns of tree trunks or branches.

Cost: Low $200, medium $2,000, high: $15,000

14. Hide your treehouse amid the branches

Treehouse partially hidden behind trees
Photo Credit: Pixy

Backyard treehouses always look cool to kids, but you might not be so convinced. If that’s the case, consider incorporating plants and foliage to create a natural camouflage.

With the right treetop landscaping, your treehouse can blend in with its surrounding like a chameleon in the amazon.

Cost: Low $0, medium $200, high $1,000

From Treehouse Ideas to Getting Started

Even if you don’t know how to build a treehouse yet, creating one may just be your best DIY project yet.

But don’t get in over your head.

Call a landscaping professional for help with treehouse plans and/or a certified arborist to make sure your tree will support a treehouse (and your children or any adults). Or just hire a crew to bring your treehouse plans to life.

Then get started.

Whether you’re considering an elevated platform on a stump or a towering mansion in the forest canopy, implementing these cool treehouse ideas will ensure that yours is the ultimate treehouse.

Main Photo Credit: Pixabay

Ryan Plank

Ryan Plank

Ryan Plank is a freelance writer and journalist in Orlando, Florida. He studied at Florida State University and is an avid golfer.