climbing tree

(24 Posts)
Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 11:54:21

Hi,

Could anyone recommend a good tree for climbing, that has branches low to the ground. We can't have a fast growing one like a willow tree as our garden is not huge and the roots would cause trouble in the drains. However we could buy quite a big specimen and water it a lot, if that would get us a good structure to work with.

I've been thinking about a climbing frame, but I think a good tree might be better.

Thanks!

ThornyBird Wed 10-Feb-16 11:57:57

We have a large acer and an even bigger magnolia that are ideal for climbing - my lot just go and hang out in them in the summer hmm

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 12:03:23

That sounds nice. :-) I don't think we have room for anything that big. It's a bit tricky as our garden is narrow and a tree that big would totally fill it.

We could do with something that matures at 20 feet and it quite tall and thin with branches at ground level that are not very long. That's probably impossible isn't it?

stayathomegardener Wed 10-Feb-16 12:24:11

Both Acers and Magnolias are slow growing, have branches that snap easily plus beautiful shapes that could be spoilt. Magnolias should also not be summer pruned(damaged)
What you want OP is not feasable, the good news is kids will climb anything- I spent many happy hours as a child in a Forsythia shrub, most unsuitable on paper.
Re buying large specimens even a £600 tree is not going to be suitable for climbing for years as it won't establish as quickly as a young sapling.
How old are your DC?
Would you consider creating something like a boat made from a couple of climbing structures combined with some fast growing topary that wouldn't damage too easily and you could trim to shape(Lonicera nitida)
And then screening that with a non invasive Bamboo thicket.

stayathomegardener Wed 10-Feb-16 12:25:44

I think hiding in shrubbery was as important as climbing trees for me as a child.

SoupDragon Wed 10-Feb-16 12:31:08

With a small garden, you are probably better off with a climbing frame TBH. I don't think a tall thin tree is going to be great for climbing, especially with respect to any play value.

My DC have climbed the Magnolia and what I think is either a plum or a cherry tree (it was actually dead which is why I not sure what it was!) Sadly (or perhaps luckily!) they can't get up the huuuuuuge beech tree at the end as it has no low branches.

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 13:04:32

Yes, I see what you mean. Perhaps we could buy a climbing frame and have some plants growing up it? I would like my son to eperience climbing amongst growing things, though not necessarily growing things that are full of spiders, so that's a tricky balance. smile

SoupDragon Wed 10-Feb-16 13:08:59

I used to walk my dog in the woods nearby and mentally note the location of any climbable tree or any with rope swings in them. In fact I still do it out of habit smile

I always wanted to build something in the garden out of living willow but never got round to it as I always remembered at the wrong time. I don't know how much maintenance is required to ensure you don't end up with huge trees after a few years but basically you plant living willow sticks and then sort of weave them together as they grow. I fancied a teepee or twisting tunnel. Maybe this is an option coupled with a climbing frame.

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 13:10:24

That's really actually what I would like Soupdragon but our garden is not big enough. We've already had to get rid of a whole hedge because it was destroying the neighbour's extension foundations. Need a different house really.

shovetheholly Wed 10-Feb-16 16:14:51

Hmmmm, I don't know if a tree will be strong enough in time. It takes them a while to be able to bear that kind of weight.

What kind of climbing are you thinking of? Because there's obviously a difference between something like a technical climbing wall, which you could put up at one side of the garden and surround with lovely climbers, and a frame-like structure.

I don't think I'd buy a climbing frame if there are other options. They are a bit ugly. What about building a free-standing tree house (basically, a box with a roof on stilts) and then planting climbers up it and a tree right next to it - so the tree is more for decoration than for climbing? That way, it's safe and it can do duty as play house, a hide from which to watch enemy forces, a pirate ship, a castle, a fairy house, and a place for having a sulk fest. grin

On a totally different note - living willow structures are SO MUCH FUN - and they really don't need to be huge. A teepee can literally be just a couple of feet across.

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 16:31:14

Hi Shove the holly, ideally I'm thinking of a structure that allows really easy climbing from about a foot off the ground up to a platform about 1m up at the moment and 2m up when ds is a teenager. He's not a big climber but his 10 year old friend (who is similar) dreams of having a thinking place up a tree when he is older, so I thought something low down for now and something a bit higher up for later. Nothing too complicated really. I thought a tree would need less cleaning than a climbing frame.

shovetheholly Wed 10-Feb-16 17:07:27

So your DS is about 10 years old, like his friend? Then the time for climbing is running out! It's a rare 16 year old who is still climbing trees these days. They grow up fast!

Your problem is that trees tend to come as saplings - mature trees don't survive being uprooted and replanted that well. Saplings run from about £3-4 at Aldi - but a really tall, robust tree will set you back hundreds and hundreds. Then you factor in the cost of planting. To do a sapling, you need a spade, some elbow grease and some compost/manure. To plant a gigantic mature tree which will be too heavy to lift, you need an amazing bit of industrial kit called a tree spade. And even then, the damn thing may not be ready to climb for a few more years. By that time, if your DS is anything like the teenagers I know, he may well have decided that sitting in his room watching movies, chatting to girls, and playing Playstation is preferable to being outdoors. grin

I would go for something you can get in instantly to maximise the time you have. Have a look on Pinterest for 'play house' and 'play house on stilts' - there are some amazing structures on there, many of which are slightly elevated. Some have build-in climbing frames that you could remove at a later date. And if you get something large enough, the roofed part is nice enough to double as a place for you to have a nice quiet cuppa tea away from teenage histrionics, too. grin If you buy or get something built out of pressure-treated timber, it won't need treating (though you may decide you like the look of a stain anyway).

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 18:03:18

Thanks that's good to know. Ds is just five years old at the moment and his friend is 9. I've been looking at these wooden climbing frames. The choice is mindboggling isn't it?

Ipsos Wed 10-Feb-16 18:39:43

ds really likes a two towers and bridge arrangement, but a lot of those online look as though they wouldn't last long. It's hard to tell which will really last.

www.activitytoysdirect.com/tp-toys/castlewood-two-towers-playset-with-free-connection-bridge/p1035

Do you have any notion of which are solid?

shovetheholly Thu 11-Feb-16 08:25:27

It's really hard to tell the quality of wooden kit online. I wonder if people would have more personal recommendations for companies if you posted a thread in the Property/DIY forums??

Ipsos Thu 11-Feb-16 09:17:18

Thanks, I'll try that. I can't really find many reviews online, and I posted a request for feedback elsewhere on mumsnet but got nothing. I think it must be a tricky area. I do wonder if I should just wait and see what comes into John Lewis later in the season as we can at least meet those in person.

shovetheholly Thu 11-Feb-16 09:35:30

I wonder if ebay might also be useful - there may be specialist manufacturers with a fair few reviews on there?

SoupDragon Thu 11-Feb-16 09:39:02

I imagine it would be possible to get a carpenter to build you a custom one.

Ipsos Thu 11-Feb-16 10:45:10

Yes I suppose so. We could even buy parts and rig one up ourselves. I need to think really hard about what's wanted really. smile

shovetheholly Thu 11-Feb-16 13:56:27

Maybe you could give the problem to that garden designer for whom you're writing a brief and let them deal with it for you? I bet they would have all kinds of ways of building it into a design.

I say this because I've just had the first set of plans for a house extension back from some architects, and they have thought in amazing ways about my house that would never even have occurred to me. I do think sometimes, when you have a complex problem like yours (not the climbing frame, the whole project), it can be transformative and well worth the extra £.

Your new garden is going to be just awesome grin

Ipsos Thu 11-Feb-16 14:57:46

I think you may be right about that. It would be nice to have the whole thing integrated rather than just a great big claimbing frame parked in the corner. Maybe I'll wait a bit then. He's due to visit us in April, by which time the whole garden will be practically ablaze with flowers. :-)

shovetheholly Thu 11-Feb-16 15:14:18

Yes, I reckon you'll get a much better result that way. Do keep us all updated with your developments - it sounds like such a great project and I'm dying to see how it turns out!

SoupDragon Thu 11-Feb-16 15:39:43

In the meantime it's probably worth jotting down ideas of the kind of thing you'd like.

Ipsos Thu 11-Feb-16 17:55:04

Good idea. I've got a whole big written brief so hopefully that will help.

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