When the little rascals start to grizzle about kicking a ball around the yard, send them to sea on a real adventure! A good pirate needs a sturdy ship (this one is made from treated pine sleepers and surrounded by a sandpit ‘ocean’) and a secret hideaway to keep him out of mischief, and you don’t need a large space to build it – just a corner of the garden or an area at the side of the house. Complete the setting with these large timber cut-outs of your children’s names. Skull and crossbones optional!
Gather your supplies
• Boat bearers and deck 200 x 50 x 3000mm treated pine sleepers (9)
• Mast 2400 x 100mm treated pine pole
• Sail 3 x 3m shade sail
You’ll also need
Power saw; spirit level; cordless drill; 100mm bugle head screws for treated pine; sliding bevel; garden hose; jigsaw; post-hole shovel; Dulux Weathershield low sheen Acrylic in Vivid White and Ploughed Earth; spray paint; staple gun; 50mm screw eye; Link Edge garden edging; washed sand; liriope
Step 1 Decide on location, ensuring it’s large enough to fit boat and surrounding sandpit. Remove turf. Mark out a simple boat shape on ground. Measure and cut sleepers so they suit the shape. Lay sleepers down on edge, making sure they are level. Dig them into ground if site slopes slightly. Screw them together.
Step 2 Cut first decking board to 450mm long. Screw it to base so it’s perpendicular to bow of boat. Use 2 screws on each bearer. Cut next board about 300mm longer than first. Lay it on bearers, leaving a 5mm gap between boards and with each end overhanging equally. Screw it down. Continue laying boards with each longer than the board before.
Step 3 If boat is up against a wall or fence, you will need to cut 1 end of boards on an angle. Set that angle using a sliding bevel. Place the stock of bevel on edge of last board you laid. Move blade so it sits against brick wall and tighten bevel. Mark angle on end of a board, cut and continue on.
Step 4 Use garden hose to make a curved boat shape on top of decking and mark it with a pencil. Use power saw to follow this line and cut ends off boards. Draw a straight line along stern of boat and trim those boards too.
Step 5 Place mast in centre of boat near bow and draw around end. Drill a hole inside the line big enough for your jigsaw blade and cut it out.
Step 6 Remove boards that mast goes through and, using a post-hole shovel, dig a hole about 600mm deep. Drop mast into hole, check it is plumb, then compact soil around it. Replace and secure boards you removed earlier.
Step 7 Paint mast in Vivid White and deck in Ploughed Earth, applying two coats of each. Paint shade sail using spray paint that will stick to plastic. Cut shade sail in half, fold cut edge over so it doesn’t fray and staple that edge to mast. At end of sail, affix screw eye to deck and hook sail to it.
Step 8 To create a clean edge between sandpit and garden, lay out Link Edge garden edging to form a gentle curve around boat. Slide a spike washer into slot at top of edging. Hammer a spike through it and the hole on edging to secure. Place enough spikes in edging to make it secure. Once area is ready, fill inside of edging with washed sand and plant edges with liriope.
Hop this way
Add another element to the space by including ‘lily pad’ stepping stones to spark the children’s imagination and add to the ocean scene. They are great for navigating to and from the ship, and also for holding prisoners before they are fed to the sandpit sharks!
Gather your supplies
• Link Edge garden edging n Buckets of varying diameters
• Old garbage bins n Concrete mix
• Artificial turf
You’ll also need
Angle grinder or hand saw; wheelbarrow; shovel; steel float; utility knife; broom; artificial turf adhesive; notched trowel
Step 1 Using angle grinder or hand saw, cut old buckets and garbage bins into rings 100mm high. You can use Link Edge to create larger diameter rings. Lay them out to form a path through your garden – even going into the sandpit.
Step 2 Mix up concrete and pour it into rings. Level off the top and smooth using steel float. Leave for about a week to fully cure.
Step 3 Once set, remove rings by tapping a screwdriver between them and concrete.
Step 4 Lay artificial turf over each of the stepping stones and roughly cut around them. Sweep top of stone and spread out artificial turf adhesive with notched trowel. Starting from 1 side, slowly roll turf onto the adhesive to prevent air bubbles. Once set, trim off excess turf around edges.