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So, the kids want a sandpit?

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So, the kids want a sandpit?

by Megan Macpherson

Who thought a pile of sand could give countless hours of pleasure? If you don’t live near the beach, then a sandpit is the solution for an easy way to occupy the kids. You can always buy a plastic one from the shops, but a sandpit is a relatively easy thing to build yourself. There are varying degrees of technical knowledge required, depending on the type of sandpit you are going to build. In its simplest form, all you need is some elbow grease to dig a pit in the ground and fill it with sand. If you want to tackle something a bit more sophisticated, then frames built from timber sleepers will form the basis of a great sandpit.

The location of a sandpit is important. Pick an area of the yard that gets some shade, and has good drainage. A patch of lawn that refuses to grow is a good spot, because not much lawn will be growing under the sandpit anyway, and the bare patch is usually in a shady area.

Cut a square or rectangle out of the grass, to the dimensions of the sandpit, and make it at least 20 cm deep, if not deeper. Level the dirt, and make sure there are no tree roots or nasty surprises in the ground that may disrupt the sand pit at a later date. Lay some black plastic, the kind builders use as a tarp. Cut a hole for drainage. Any alternatives to the plastic are fine, but the material must be permeable to allow water to drain, but closed enough to prevent weeds or grass growing up from the ground. The barrier also serves to separate the sand from the soil.

Fill the pit with sand. Builders’ sand is usually too dirty to use, so use washed beach sand or river sand. In NSW double washed beach sand is known as “Sydney Sand” and can be bought from nurseries.

The next step up from a hole in the ground filled with sand is to give the sand pit some kind of walls. Timber sleepers, or logs, or anything that will contain the sand can be used. Logs or half logs can be made into frames, then laid on top of one another and fixed with galvanied spikes or pegs. Sleepers laid around the pit will also make a good bench or seat, as well as keep the sand in the pit instead of being tracked around the yard. Any wood should be sanded to protect kids from splinters, and rough corners planed off. Paint or varnish on the wood will also help protect the kids from painful encounters with splinters and sharp edges.

An important thing to remember when making a sandpit is to keep it covered when not in use. This can be anything from a piece of plywood to a plastic tarp. A cover is necessary to stop garden refuse from littering the pit, as well as to preventing wandering cats from using it as a bathroom.

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