The right treehouse tree

Tree species, minimum height, diameter, vitality

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Which tree is best for building a treehouse?

1. The right treehouse tree?

When it comes to tree house construction, there is no “best suited tree”. The quality of the wood varies greatly from species to species, from location to location, from tree to tree, but also within one and the same tree. Above all, climate, soil quality, age & exposure have an influence.

Every tree is unique!

Nevertheless, there are of course tree species that are better suited for tree house construction than others.

The following characteristics are good:

  • high wood strength
  • good wound sealing
  • fast growth of reaction wood
  • high average life span
  • large expected stem girth
  • robust bark

In a bachelor’s thesis, we have gone through numerous studies and compiled a list from them, which shows us which trees are particularly suitable for treehouse construction:

Which tree is the right one for building a treehouse?

Very good are deciduous trees such as beech, oak, lime, maple, ash, and sweet chestnut, as well as conifers such as larch, pine, Douglas fir, and fir.

Less suitable as sole support trees are birch and the tree species below it in the list.

2. How big and how high should my tree be?

Example tree house in forest

Big trees with thick trunks are better than small ones!

  • They move less in the wind.
  • You can put more tree screws.
  • The tree is more resistant to parasites and weather extremes.
  • You can reach higher!

The decisive factor for building a treehouse is not the height of the tree, but the diameter of the trunk!

3. How thick must the trunk be at least?

Treehouse builders hug tree like thick

The trunk diameter ø is measured at the height of the platform (mean value); it should be at least 30 cm, better 45 cm for the main support tree or a single support tree.

 

A large diameter brings advantages:

  • The tree is mature & resistant.
  • It can withstand extreme situations (storms, dry spells, branch outbreaks, hail damage, …).
  • It can bear very large loads and is less susceptible to vibration.
  • A mature tree consumes less energy for height growth; it builds up safety reserves and uses them specifically for wound healing and growing reaction wood.
  • In the case of boreholes, the percentage of injured tissue is lower.

 

For treehouse construction, this means that the tree must be all the more massive:

  • The greater the load (dead load, wind, snow, wild parties).
  • The more screws are placed in the tree.
  • The higher the treehouse is fixed in the tree.
  • The worse the tree species is suited for treehouse construction.
  • The worse the general condition of the tree.

 

The minimum stem diameter MSD ø for our treehouse screws GTS:

GTS Allstar
MSD Hauptbaum
45 cm
MSD Nebenbaum
35 cm
Eignung nach obiger Liste "Birke oder schlechter"
+ 5 cm
Baumhaus sehr groß und schwer
+ 5 cm
Viel Schnee, häufig Stürme
+ 3 cm
Plattform höher als 5m: je weiterem Meter
+ 3 cm
Mehr als 1 Schraube im Baum: jede weitere Schraube
+ 3 cm
GTS TOP / Friend / Free / Side
MSD Hauptbaum
35 cm
MSD Nebenbaum
30 cm
Eignung nach obiger Liste "Birke oder schlechter"
+ 5 cm
Baumhaus sehr groß und schwer
+ 5 cm
Viel Schnee, häufig Stürme
+ 3 cm
Plattform höher als 5m: je weiterem Meter
+ 3 cm
Mehr als 1 Schraube im Baum: jede weitere Schraube
+ 3 cm
GTS Safety
MSD Hauptbaum
20 cm
MSD Nebenbaum
20 cm
Eignung nach obiger Liste "Birke oder schlechter"
+ 2 cm
Baumhaus sehr groß und schwer
+ 2 cm
Viel Schnee, häufig Stürme
+ 2 cm
Plattform höher als 5m: je weiterem Meter
+ 2 cm
Mehr als 1 Schraube im Baum: jede weitere Schraube
+ 2 cm

These values serve as a guide for our screws, and should be adjusted individually depending on the situation on site.

4. How to tell if the tree is healthy?

Decades of professional treehouse building have shown that trees do not reject a treehouse, but rather integrate it into their lives as an integral part over time. This costs the tree energy that will consequently be lacking in other places. But how do I know if the tree is healthy and has sufficient energy reserves?

For private and smaller treehouse projects, a visual assessment of the tree is sufficient.

You can see whether the tree is healthy or diseased.

Similar to humans (posture, skin appearance, hair, scars, …), there are also visible signs of poor health in trees:

  • unhealthy crown (little and irregular foliage)
  • many deadwood branches (without foliage)
  • elongated cracks
  • unhealthy dying bark (pest infestation!)
  • woodpecker (insect infestation!)
  • excessive moss
  • hollow sound (knocking test with hammer)
  • many secondary shoots (new “panic shoots” in the middle of the trunk)
  • Fungal fruiting bodies -> do not build here!!!

In addition to the tree, be sure to observe its location and surroundings – be careful with:

  • very soft soils (weak root system)
  • very wet soils or flooded areas
  • trees on steep slopes
  • trees on rocks
  • fungal or insect infestation on neighbouring trees
  • in the case of species-specific disease, e.g. ash and elm dieback, chestnut (leaf miner moth) and spruce (bark beetle)!
  • crooked, crooked trunk
hidden tree house in beautiful tree autumn

Treehouses should only be built in straight-growing and absolutely vital trees.

If there is any doubt about the health of the chosen tree, or if it is a public or particularly large project, always consult a tree biologist or tree surveyor.

Always make decisions in favour of the tree, if necessary reduce the size of the treehouse or use stilts for anchoring.

5. How many trees do I need to build a treehouse?

You can build your treehouse in one tree or in several trees! The size and position of the trees in relation to each other are the basis for the design of your platform. Of course, you can also support your platform with stilts; natural, round robinia trunks (also acacia) are particularly suitable for this.

A good distance between the trees is 2 – 6m, with even larger spans you need very large wooden beam dimensions and the beams become incredibly heavy!

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