20 DIY Sandbox Plans and Design Ideas

DIY Sandbox Plans and Design Ideas

If you’re looking to create a fun and functional backyard sandbox for your kids, you’ve come to the right place. This article covers no less than 20 DIY sandbox plans and ideas, complete with pictures and handy tips and tricks. With some DIY prowess, affordable building materials, and the right tools, you’ll have your new play area ready in no time. All set? Let’s get building.




1. A Covered Sandbox with Built-In Seats


One of my pet peeves about sandboxes is cleaning them of leaf litter, twigs, or clumpy, wet sand. That’s why I love this covered sandbox plan. It serves the dual purpose of providing shade for the kids while also keeping the play area relatively free of debris or rain. Another great feature is the built-in seats, where your toddlers can comfortably sit while playing without getting too sandy themselves.

To DIY this great design, the materials you’ll need are pressure-treated wood for the frame, plywood for the roof, screws and staples to keep it all together, and painting supplies for the finishing touches. I also recommend lining the pit with galvanized landscape fabric, so the sand doesn’t spill out on your lawn.

Then, in terms of tools, you’ll need to usual. A measuring tape and speed square for planning, a miter or circular saw for cutting your wood, a drill, a hammer, and a staple gun. Cutting your wood to size is the most time-consuming part of this plan, but after that, it’s just a case of putting it all together – a task you can knock out in an afternoon.


2. An Inexpensive Pirate Ship Sandpit


Arrr, me matey – it’s hard not to smile at this clever and unique sandbox plan. And the best part is that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

To build this beauty, all you’ll need is three 2x12s of 8 feet each, one 8-foot tree stake, some landscaping fabric, and a packet of nails and staples. For decorating your pirate ship (the kids will love this!), it’s a good idea to stock up on the paint of your choice and some cute vinyl cut-outs, too.

No fancy tools are required to pull this off, just a circular or table saw, a drill, and a hammer. That said, you may need to invest in or borrow someone’s hole saw for the mast staff hole. Once built, this sandpit can go for years, with only the occasional touch-up to its paint.


3. A Large Outdoor Sandbox Made of Simple Materials


Prefabricated sandpits tend to be a little on the small side when what I’m really after is a durable play area with plenty of room for my kids and their friends to enjoy. 

This design, which is 8×8, is super simple to construct from precut landscape timbers and outdoor fabric like Weed Barrier. In fact, it shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon, a drill, a hammer, and a couple of nails. If anything, the tricky part is finding a level spot in your garden to measure out. I recommend using a framing square and laying down your posts in different spots until you’ve got your pit exactly where you want it. Then, it’s just a case of layering and joining your timber, not forgetting, of course, to line the pit with landscape fabric to keep your sand contained.


4. A Cute Upcycled Sandpit with Bench and Cover


If you’re low on space, this petite design may be your perfect solution. Though you wouldn’t think it at first glance, this play pit is actually constructed from an old chest of drawers and the addition of one or two extra pieces of wood. In concept, it’s simple. The chest is laid flat, and a backboard is attached for support. Then, the drawers are taken apart and used for a built-in bench and a cover to protect the sand from the elements. Even the drawer handles are recycled to make it easy to lift the cover when the kiddos are ready to play.


5. A Gorgeous Wooden Sandbox with Slatted Roof


This beautiful design, complete with corner benches, is far easier to construct than it looks. Indeed, you can have it done in less than a day! I love it because it provides cover from the sun and leaves and is inexpensive to build. I personally think that the dark wood stain is the perfect finishing touch to contrast with the light-colored sand. As far as sandbox plans go, it’s also a little larger than the norm, meaning you’ll whole brood can play together without worrying about space.

To build this sandbox, you only need a miter saw, a table saw (if your wood is not precut), an impact driver, and a staple gun. The latter is for attaching your landscape fabric to the pit’s interior to keep your sand from messing all over the show. As far as wood goes, and with keeping budget in mind, this designer recommended Douglas Fir, which is an excellent choice in comparison to a far pricier wood, like Cedar.


6. A Precut Hexagonal Sandpit


A departure from the usual square shape sandpit, this plan comprises precut slats of wood gently interlocked to form a hexagon. It also features broad top ledges for sitting, with rounded edges to keep your kiddies safe and injury-free. You can emulate this design fairly easily at home by notching your own woodcuts with a circular saw before joining all the pieces together. The trick will be proper planning and measurements to ensure everything fits as it should. Other than that, all you need is a hammer, some nails, and a sander to eradicate rough edges.


7. DIY Sandbox with Cool Convertible Folding Lid


For kids that love to play outdoors, the bigger the sandbox, the better. Honestly, the ingenuity of this plan just blows my mind, especially considering that it’s easy to build and relatively inexpensive. To start, the base is quite a standard rectangular frame made from timber boards and lined with landscaping fabric. But the real kicker is the clever cover, comprising two panels hinged together so that they can pull back and covert into comfortable benches, complete with back support! The metal handles make it easy to open and close the sandpit as needed, protecting it from the elements. And to build this, you don’t need anything fancy, just your materials, some paint, a hammer, a drill, and a chop saw – items most DIYers already have at home.


8. A Sailboat Sandpit with a Shade Cloth Sail


The second boat on our list, this adorable sandbox comes complete with a shade cover that doubles up as an imaginary sail. It’s so smart and so easy to DIY. It’s also quite light on materials. You only need some durable wood, a dowel to support the sail, landscape fabric, shade cloth, and a weatherproofing varnish or stain. The construction itself is simple, provided your measurements are accurate, so all your pieces join together neatly. You can tackle this project from start to finish in less than a weekend. Tools-wise, you only need a tape measure, a circular saw, a drill, and a speed square.


9. An Easy-to-Build, Durable Square Sandbox


The last thing any of us wants is to have to rebuild our sandboxes year after year, which is why durability is key. In other words, your sandbox doesn’t need to be super fancy. It just needs to be tough enough to survive consistent use. For this purpose, some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years have become invaluable. This design is a great example. While simple, it has clear supports on the interior walls and corners, preventing it from warping or shifting. A narrow top rim also doubles up as seating space for both kids and adults while acting as additional support. Finally, the whole thing is treated with weatherproof paint, and the nail heads are covered with putty to stop them from rusting.


10. A Super Easy DIY Tire Sandpit with Lid


It doesn’t get easier than this brilliant DIY tire sandbox, perfect for playing on those hot summer days. Ultimately, all you will need is a big tire (like a discarded tractor tire), a pool noodle to curb the rough interior edges, and some landscaping fabric to line it. Furthermore, you can also cut a cover or lid from plywood to keep it safe from the rain. Your kids will have a great time painting and decorating the tire to make it unique. I love how this designer has planted a little umbrella in the sand to provide shade and give it a real beach vibe.


11. Homemade DIY Sandbox with Roof


When adding a sandbox to your backyard, it’s great if it can look as natural and aesthetic as possible, which is just one of the many reasons I love roofed designs. They also keep out most of the rain and falling foliage while shading your little ones from harsh sun rays.

This simple-to-build square sandpit is made from inexpensive materials and constructed with minimal tools (miter and circular saws, nails, a drill, and a hammer). Aside from wood, nails, and landscaping fabric, this designer has also invested in roof shingles, which give this structure a gorgeous, cottagey feel and serve as additional weatherproofing.


12. A Cleverly Converted Color Block Sandbox


Would you believe me if I told you this genius plan was made from a prefabricated bookcase kit? That’s right. A beautiful, colorful design that your kids will love, requiring no cutting or sanding to assemble. Instead, one shelf is unattached but rather acts as additional support for partitioning the sandpit into two parts – one for playing and one for storing toys. Each panel is beautifully painted in advance of assembly to make the most of color blocking, giving the whole thing a bright, fun, and attractive feel.


13. Easy DIY Sandbox with Benches


I’m always a fan of versatile design, and this sandbox nails it. It’s a standard rectangular pit, but the clever cover that doubles up as a pair of hinged benches makes it perfect for the outdoors (we covered a similar plan earlier in this article). Because it is pretty small, it’s reasonably portable, meaning you can move it around as you please. And when closed, the toddlers can use it as a picnic table.


14. A Natural Sandbox Made with Landscaping Rocks


We’ve looked at loads of wooden sandpit plans, but this plan entails something a little different, albeit equally effective. Indeed, if you don’t want to go the structured route, why not consider forming a sandpit play area out of rocks or pebbles? It’s affordable and requires no specialized tools or intense DIYing. Instead, all you need to do is identify and measure out a space, lay down some landscaping fabric to keep your sand contained (and the weeds out), and then build a perimeter from landscaping rocks or large pebbles. Have a backhoe drop off some sand (likely your most significant expense), and in no time, your kids will have a designated area to play to their hearts’ content.


15. A Colorful Backyard Sandpit with Benches


We know that kids love colors, and this simple plan is elevated by incorporating precisely that. Bright stripes of primary colors add a whole new dimension to an otherwise straightforward and affordable weekend DIY project. Indeed, the construction of this plan requires nothing more than some wood cutting with your circular saw and a bit of hammering and drilling. The corner benches are a nice touch and give you and your kids somewhere to sit other than in the sand itself. The real fun, in any case, comes in with the design. Turn this project into a family affair by giving your children input on what they’d like their sandpit to look like.


16. A Recycled Tire Sandpit with Cover


In terms of sandbox plans, it doesn’t get easier than this upcycled tire design. And as a bonus, you can often find tires for free. The pit itself is a no-brainer. You just need to fill in a tire with sand, although I do recommend a lining to prevent weeds and spillage. But the real fun lies in the lid. Made from plywood and incorporating a drawer knob, this clever cover will protect your sand from the elements. But, through using chalkboard paint, you can also add an interactive element, where your cover doubles up as a canvas for creative kiddos.


17. A Sturdy Outdoor Sandbox with a Lid


If you’re planning to build your sandbox as a permanent fixture in your yard, it’s highly beneficial to include a protective measure like a lid so that you aren’t constantly having to replace your sand or clean it. This pit, which is slightly submerged in the ground, has a great, hinged cover that opens out to lean against the garden fence. Being in two parts, it’s also possible for one side to act as seating. Furthermore, I recommend treating your wood with weatherproofing to keep it durable and long-lasting.


18. A Sturdy Rowboat Sandbox


Utilizing an old rowboat as a sandbox is one of my favorite ideas on this list, and it’s easy to see why. Most of the construction is done for you, and it’ll have any kid feeling like a real adventurer. That said, with rowboats, there is always the risk of them tipping over, so I would suggest building a frame beneath the boat to keep it steady. This is easy to achieve by turning the boat over and measuring out the diameter of its base. Then, all you need to do is build a sturdy wooden frame that you can submerge into the ground before attaching your boat with exterior-coated wood screws. With any outdoor structure, weatherproofing treatment is a must, and will keep your sandbox looking better for longer.


19. A DIY Sandbox with Seating


Sandboxes can be fun for the whole family, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to sit with my bottom in the sand. The perfect solution, to my mind, is to incorporate broad seating all around the edges. This plan is straightforward to DIY with minimal tools (a saw, a hammer, a drill), but looks very neat and highly functional. The base frame has interior supports that both strengthen the walls and provide leverage for the seats to rest on. The overhang of the seats is also helpful in keeping the sand from spilling out.


20. A Gorgeous Automobile Sandbox


We’ve looked at a couple of sailboat designs, but I have to say this cute car sandpit really deserves a special mention, too. It’s a fun project to undertake with your kids and is bound to add a playful element to your backyard landscape. To construct, you’ll need to build a frame in a rectangular shape, which you can make from timber or recycled pallet wood. The hood, which is on hinges and can fold out for additional space, is the trickest part to put together, requiring careful measurement. And, of course, let’s not forget the steering wheel, which you can upcycle from an actual old steering wheel or cut from a piece of timber.

About Joe Hats 176 Articles
Joe Hats is the founder of FreshPatio.com. Joe has been remodeling homes since 1997 when he bought his first fixer-upper. He has built many pieces of indoor and outdoor furniture with his own hands and has every DIY woodworking tool in his possession. Coming from an engineering background, he has designed and built many patio fixture plans. Following his wife's lead, he is also very passionate about home decor and together they keep track of the latest trends. When he is not remodeling or trying a new woodworking tool, he is busy gardening or designing a new outdoor plan.