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Sandboxes with a future.

Sandboxes with a future Turning a corner of your garden into a sandbox can provide hours of entertainment for youngsters. But what happens when they outgrow it?

Here we show three sandboxes that have been designed as an integral part of the garden--both now and in later years. When these sandboxes are abandoned, they can either be turned into planting areas or easily dismantled.

Dual-purpose play area

The concrete-ringed area shown above, designed by landscape architect William Tonnesen of Tempe, Arizona, serves as both a giant (20-foot-diameter) sandbox and racetrack.

The steel-reinforced concrete track allows Karen and Frank Lewkowitz's three sons to race around on bicycles and tricycles at full speed in the safety of their back yard. Since the track is banked, the boys are less likely to tumble; if they do, they usually fall into the soft sand. The lawn on the outer edge also provides a soft landing.

The concrete surface is free of expansion joints so it provides smooth cycling. To prevent cracking, the concrete is thicker than normal--8 inches at the edges and 5 inches at center--and stronger than normal (3,000 psi). Before the concrete was poured, 3/8-inch-diameter steel rods were set every 12 inches. The banked rim helps confine the sand.

A mulberry tree planted in the center partly shades sand and track from desert sun; when the boys outgrow the play area, the sand can be replaced with soil for planting shrubs and flowers.

Railroad-tie tiers

Situated in view of the kitchen window in Irene and Chris Monson's garden is the sandbox and flower bed in the photograph at bottom left. The ground originally sloped 3 feet down from the back wall. Landscape architect Ric Wogisch terraced the slope with railroad ties to retain the sand in the rear and to hold soil for the flower bed that screens the play area. To provide a bench for the sandbox and to make a deep planting area, the ties were stacked two deep and anchored together with rebar inserted through predrilled holes. (When you buy railroad ties, make sure they're not coated with tar.)

The deciduous ash tree in the center of the sandbox offers shade in summer and lets the sun shine through in winter. When the sandbox is no longer used, it will be turned into another flower bed.

Open-sided playhouse

The canvas-roofed structure surrounded by native desert plants (shown above) was designed by Jane Kleinsmith Eddy of Tucson for her four sons. The sandbox-playhouse sits next to the back lawn in clear view from the house.

Bolts connect the simple framework of 5-foot-tall 4-by-4 redwood posts and 6-foot-long 2-by-4s at the top and 2-by-8s at the base. The boards overlap the posts by 9 inches on two sides and are flush with their outer edges on the other two.

For stability, the base was sunk about 4 inches into the ground; river rock was piled around the boards to prevent erosion. (In a windy area, posts should be sunk about 18 inches into the ground.) To give the awning its pitch and to give the top rigidity, a 2-by-8 beam was attached to the frame with joist hangers. A seat angling across one corner of the base was cut from a 2-by-8.

The scalloped awning is grommeted at top and at the sides, hanging about 12 inches down. (For more protection from wind and sun, you could make the sides longer, rolling them up and down like shades.)

To allow a deeper bed of sand, the owner dug out a 2-foot-deep funnel-shaped hole, then lined it with plastic to keep sand and soil from mingling; several holes punched in the plastic allow drainage. Since the structure was placed out in the desert without disturbing the surroundings, it can be easily dismantled after the children have grown, and the area will return to natural desert.

Consider location and weed control

Keep in mind that the site must be well drained and in full sun so the sand dries out quickly after a rain. You might also want to locate it in an area where it can be watched from the house.

If the area is very weedy, spray with weed oil before filling with sand; or hand-pull weeds as they appear.

Neighborhood cats may mistake a sandbox for a litter box. To forestall the problem, you might want to design a cover for the sand.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Aug 1, 1986
Words:735
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