Once you realise how much fun a treetop net can be, you’ll be hanging out among the canopy in no time. Andy, who’s built all sorts of suspended walkways, bridges and nets in his time, shares his tips…
Last month, to celebrate the end of another successful RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Andy treated the Blue Forest team to the ultimate outdoor campout, which elicited cheers all round! The team brought their families, kids and partners along for the event, which saw everyone setting up tents in the surrounding woodlands by the Blue Forest HQ.
It looked like any old familiar camping site, with people gathered around a fire with drinks and hotdogs. Yet, there was one feature that made the evening feel like an exciting treat. Suspended in the trees was a huge hanging cargo net which was a hit with the kids who spent most of the evening bouncing about in the branches.
We do like to be up in the trees…
These days, despite the computer games and technology available, it can be something as simple as a net suspended (safely and securely) in the trees that can provide hours of exciting entertainment for both kids and adults alike. It’s a little bigger than a regular hammock, and the netting allows you to look down at the ground below, giving a thrilling sense of adventure.
It’s the ultimate spot for reading, napping, listening to audiobooks, and it can be built just about anywhere. Go a little higher for a more exciting experience but please be careful if you are letting children climb into the net or consider including net walls to give parents that all-important peace of mind.
Helpful treetop net tips:
- You’ll want to select a group of strong and sturdy trees with evenly spaced trunks. Ideally, you need to find somewhere that has individual branches growing from the main trunk at the same height, which create natural ‘hooks’ to hold and support the corners of the net in place.
- Measure out the size you would like your hangout net to be. You’ll want the net to create a strong, stable platform that has enough room for a fully grown adult to stretch out. If you are installing this at home we wouldn’t recommend your net be positioned more than 2m above ground level. If you want a higher net you should seek professional assistance. Ideally from a team who are qualified to use climbing equipment, ropes and harnesses safely.
- You should purchase a good quality net, from an experienced rope maker such as Master Rope Makers. Of course, each tree is different, so you’ll want to make sure that your net will fit the unique space between the trees by choosing a larger size to fit the widest part of your space. You will also need a soft chord that is very strong which can be woven around the perimeter of your net – a synthetic static climbing rope is ideal.
- Spread out the net near the spot you want to fit it, and using a bright coloured tape, mark out a template of your net using the measurements you have previously taken.
- Take your strong chord and weave it in and out around the markings, making a strong outside shape of your hangout net. Repeat if you feel it needs additional support.
- Avoid simply using the rope to attach your net, which can rub the bark and can damage the tree. You also run the risk of strangulation, which prevents the tree from obtaining nutrients and water. Alternatively, find yourself a set of good quality hammock straps online which you can use to attach your net to the trees without any complicated knots, wrapping them around the trunks and letting the smaller branches hold them in place. Adjusting the straps as the tree grows prevents strangulation. Carabiners can be used to safely attach the external chord to the tree straps.
- You might want to consider either a rope ladder to climb up into your net, or include an additional walkway made of netting to create a ‘ramp’ leading up to your treetop hangout if it is at a lower height.
- You will notice that over 2-3 weeks, your netting might stretch out a little at the beginning after it is first used. Simply tighten it up using the external chord and by tightening the hammock chords.
A Safety Note: If you are unsure about how to do this at home, or are unable to build your treetop hangout net safely, then we highly recommend that you speak to a local expert who can either help you or check your net to make sure it is secure.
Among treehouses, eco-classrooms and treetop hotels, Blue Forest also design treetop walkways, rope bridge networks and suspended net hammocks. For more information, contact the team or request a brochure here.