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Can You Build a Treehouse in a Dead Tree? (or Protected Tree?)

Can You Build a Treehouse in a Dead Tree? (or Protected Tree?)

Treehouse is considered a perfect addition to homes and has become more popular in contemporary houses. Normally, a healthy tree with a strong structure and firmly anchored roots are considered the best option for a treehouse. However, you may be wondering if you can use a dead tree since it is a tree.

This article explains if you can use a dead tree to build your treehouse and the precautions to be mindful of during the building process.

Can You Build a Treehouse on a Dead Tree?

People often refrain from using a dead tree when building a treehouse, especially when they want a treehouse to last long. Using a dead tree means one is ready to risk any damage that may happen to the tree. However, It is possible to build a treehouse on a dead tree if you are not aiming for a large treehouse.

A large treehouse is not a good option if your tree is no longer healthy. You can reduce the size of the treehouse and ensure you use stilts to support the tree.

You can build a treehouse on a dead tree if you are not planning to use the treehouse for long. Compared to a healthy tree, the span of a dead tree only lasts for about five years if it has not started to decay or rotten. The roots are very essential to keep your treehouse stable, and if it is destroyed you risk causing great damage if you proceed to build your treehouse.

Before using a dead tree, ensure the root is not destroyed yet. While it is possible to build a treehouse on a dead tree, do not build a large treehouse because it is not always profitable. A small treehouse will be a more appealing option.

Can You Build a Treehouse Without a Tree?

You don’t always have to build it on a tree to be a treehouse. Building a treehouse without a tree is possible, but it requires proper planning, timing, and money.

Over the years, people have come up with great options to build tree houses without damaging your tree. These options are effective and are built to last longer. Some of these options include;

Telephone Poles

Telephone poles offer great anchoring for your treehouse structure. A strong option for raising your treehouse off the ground is to use circular telephone poles. These poles don’t need to cross bracing for stability when buried deeply enough because they are made to be buried for decades.

Round telephone poles are stronger than square. The disadvantages of opting for telephone poles are that they are expensive and hard to buy. However, you can find them in farm stores.

Metal Posts

This option is typically the most expensive and best for bigger treehouse buildings. Using robust brackets and hardware, metal poles are fixed to a ground-mounted concrete pillar. Due to the additional building difficulty and skill level in metal cutting, welding, and fabrication, this system is rarely employed by most do-it-yourselfers.

Can You Build a Treehouse in a Protected Tree?

Protected trees are often placed under restriction if they are community property or because of their historical value. You may be fined if any damage is done to a protected tree. The Tree Preservation Order prohibits anyone from performing any project on a tree.

If a tree is under the preservation order, it means it is protected, and you cannot build in it all. If you have a protected tree in your garden, you should seek a permit before constructing a treehouse.

Before you can chop down a protected tree, work around, trim, or prune it, you must first obtain resource consent. A permit before doing anything on a protected tree is required in favor of the tree because doing so could result in the tree’s destruction or permanent damage.

You cannot build a treehouse in a protected tree. However, you can request your local authority to revoke the protective order or modify them before taking action.


How Big Should a Tree be for a Treehouse?

Most of the time, the size and the capacity of the tree are important considerations when planning to build a treehouse. Your tree must be big enough to support your desired treehouse.

The size of your tree depends on the size of the treehouse you want to build. If using a single tree, trunk diameter of 12″ or more is advised for a treehouse that is 8’x8′ in size on average. Smaller minimum diameters are suitable if supported over two or more trees.

The treehouse’s design can make it heavier than typical, in which case a greater diameter or a harder species will be needed. The wood of deciduous trees is often denser and can carry heavier loads.

How High Can You Build a Treehouse?

You will have to take in the height of your treehouse during the planning process. The safety of the builders and children is crucial.

While your treehouse should be high enough to give a stunning view, you need to consider the safety of the children. The normal height should be between 6 to 10 feet. The maximum height limit is 13 feet. However, it is easy to exceed this limit when constructing a treehouse because it is measured from ground level to roof peak.

Your treehouse should not be tall because your neighbor may think it overlooks their property. So, you should talk to your neighbors during the planning process to prevent any issue that may result in fines, demolition orders, or legal action.

Precautions to Take Care of While Building a Treehouse in a Dead Tree 

Using a dead tree for your treehouse is already a big disadvantage. However, taking precautions while building a treehouse may give you a good result.

Whatever decisions you make while planning your building process should always favor your tree. Some of the precautions to take include;

Protecting the Root

The root performs the job of anchoring and is not a good choice for a treehouse if it is destroyed. The root ensures the stability of your treehouse, so you have to treat it carefully. Else, your treehouse will fall.

One way to protect your root from rotting includes installing your beam properly. The beams should not be installed in the concrete, subsurface, or ground level because it attracts the fungi. After every rain, the end needs to dry quickly to avoid humidity which results in rotten roots.

A Secured Anchor

You want to ensure that your tree can carry tonnes of weight and withstand extreme weather conditions. So, you need a strong anchor to secure your tree without overloading it. Also, construct your treehouse in a way that doesn’t affect the growth of your tree, especially if you are considering long-term.

Do Treehouses Damage Trees?

Building a treehouse in a tree can damage the tree if the treehouse is poorly designed. It can damage the roots and cause pest infection on the bark of your tree.

Large fasteners and screws used while building a treehouse can infect and harm the tree. The additional weight will stress the tree’s branches, trunk, and roots. The tree’s roots are harmed even by the increased foot activity. However, these can be avoided if proper care is taken.

The weight distribution is crucial when building a treehouse because it can affect the tree’s roots if it is not done properly. The key to maintaining a tree’s health is limiting bark damage. Therefore, it is best to refrain from cutting large portions or branches out of the tree.

Such cuts greatly expose the interior of the tree, increasing the danger of disease. If ropes are required for your design, make sure you remove them once a year to reduce the long-term harm they typically cause.

When building an anchor for your tree, ensure the support is as strong as possible because the tree never stops growing. While the growth process may diminish with time, it will not stop. So, protect your tree by giving it room to grow.

Does the Age of a Tree Matter When Building a Treehouse?

The tree’s age isn’t much of a consideration when building a treehouse. Regardless of the age of the tree, there are chances of growth. While you don’t want to affect the growth of your tree, the age of a tree doesn’t matter.

The tree’s age is not crucial for treehouse construction; the tree’s physical size is a much better indicator of its strength. Make sure the tree you select is sturdy, healthy, and able to sustain the required treehouse.

It’s likely that your tree, no matter how old it is, still has some room to expand. So, the treehouse must not come near the tree.


Yes! You can build a treehouse on a dead tree without any complications. However, you need to take precautions to avoid causing extra damage to your tree that can cause you to waste money and effort.

The best part is that the majority of trees can withstand the abuse of supporting a treehouse and will do so without suffering serious damage. Simply use caution and be sure to speak with an arborist before constructing your treehouse.