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Old 09-19-2017, 09:37 PM   #1
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Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


Hi, I am planning to install a playset in my back yard and want to put in a 6" x 6" landscape timber surround to contain the mulch. I could use some help in planning to see how many timbers I am going to need.

The area for the surround will be 26' x 25'. There is a slope from one end of the rectangle to the other of 15" across the rectangle. You can see the height difference in my picture below. The string is level in these pics and you can see that at one corner it is touching grass, and on the far corner it is 15" above the grass.




I want to do something like this and want to know if I need to make the bottom row of timbers go all the way around the surround.




Or can I tier the timbers to use less material and have to do less digging like in this pic?:



Essentially, I would need to make one of these two. The first is with the first row of timbers going all the way around. The second would be tiering the timbers:







I don't mind spending the money and time to do it right, but if I can avoid having to bury a bunch of timber that would be great.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:54 PM   #2
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


I would start at the lowest corner with them half buried. You can keep joints together with what I call an under lap. A 2 ft long piece buried under the joint Then as you go up they do get overlapped for a solid joint.
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:33 PM   #3
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


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Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
I would start at the lowest corner with them half buried. You can keep joints together with what I call an under lap. A 2 ft long piece buried under the joint Then as you go up they do get overlapped for a solid joint.
So at any joint I just need a 2' piece underneath the joint? I don't need to have multiple layers of timbers? Just want to make sure I understood correctly. Thanks.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:08 PM   #4
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


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So at any joint I just need a 2' piece underneath the joint? I don't need to have multiple layers of timbers? Just want to make sure I understood correctly. Thanks.
Yes then you can get away with just digging in the one at half depth. The buried piece is like an anchor. In a play area you don't really have any forces pushing on them.
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:56 AM   #5
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


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Originally Posted by jmvar44 View Post
Hi, I am planning to install a playset in my back yard and want to put in a 6" x 6" landscape timber surround to contain the mulch. I could use some help in planning to see how many timbers I am going to need.

The area for the surround will be 26' x 25'. There is a slope from one end of the rectangle to the other of 15" across the rectangle. You can see the height difference in my picture below. The string is level in these pics and you can see that at one corner it is touching grass, and on the far corner it is 15" above the grass.

I want to do something like this and want to know if I need to make the bottom row of timbers go all the way around the surround.

I don't mind spending the money and time to do it right, but if I can avoid having to bury a bunch of timber that would be great.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
I did respond to your post, from my original post, and answered my own questions on what I did to build my wall.

I used the second option, and staggered my layers up, I do not have a base level that goes all the way around. So your second option picture, that does not have the schematic with playset in there.

I dug my trench deep enough so I can have 3 inches of compacted gravel, and then my 4x4 was burried (top of wood was flush with ground) at the low corner where I started. (So 6.5" trench, 3.5 wood plus 3" gravel). I didnt always get the 3" gravel thickness, sometimes it was less. I ran that wood horizontal until my trench was 10" deep (3" gravel, and 2 layers of 3.5" wood. That was the point at which I terminated the bottom layer, and continued that.

I have attached a screen shot from CAD on my planning level layout of the wall. Note the timbers are being stepped up as the ground goes up. Also note how sometimes the rebar goes through 3 layers, sometimes 2 layers.
In the tall corner, I went through 3 layers, everywhere else I used 2 layers, except a few other spots had 3 layers to go through, due the stagger, and making sure I had rebar through each piece of wood. Red are the layers of timber drawn as an unfolded elevation, green line is ground, yellow are where the corners are at, blue lines are my rebar. Note the longer lengths of rebar in the taller corner. My high corner is at 0", the far back right corner is down 18", and the other 2 corners are down about 6". You can kind of see this in the photo I attached on my post answering your questions. Again this was planning level, so I adjusted it as needed as I was actually building it, but it came out pretty close to this. This helped me determine how many 8' sections I needed, and then added a few more. I had to return 12 (warped, cracked, etc), and bought 12 more, so I was pretty dead on, on what I needed after getting the new ones. This also helped me determine how many 10' lengths of rebar I needed, along with the 8" galvanized spikes. If you go with 6x6 timbers, you may want to get 10" or even 12" spikes. I used 4x4's.

Hope this helps.

Thanks,
Steve
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Landscape Timber Surround for Playset-planning-phase-wall.jpg  

Last edited by svaic00; 09-20-2017 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Deleted pictures from original post
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:20 AM   #6
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


You are doing more than I would and that's fine. The treatment will eat the rebar.
I would and have used 8 , 10 and 12" galvanized nails.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:59 AM   #7
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


Thanks for all of the info, I got this thing 95% finished over the weekend and I am really happy with how it turned out. The only thing left is to drive rebar through the entire surround to lock it into the ground.

I used timberlok screws to secure the timbers to each other.

I used copper green wood preservative on all the cuts.

I sunk the timberlok heads into the timbers and will do the same with the rebar so that I can glue in 1/2" wood plugs to hide the fasterners and rebar holes.

Now the question is what type of mulch do I want to use? Locally I can get a thinner type of playground specific mulch for $25 per yard or bigger chunky playground mulch for $38 per yard. I am looking at about 650 ft of area with a 6" depth so I think I need about 12 yards of mulch.

Again, I don't mind spending the $$$ for the chunky playground mulch if it's better. This is what I am leaning towards. I feel like it will stay put better when I blow the leaves off in the fall and make less of a mess on the kids clothes. Am I off here?

Thanks
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:15 AM   #8
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


Use galvanized pipe instead of rebar, the rebar will not last in the treated wood.

I have never driven these bars but lot's of people do.
The neighbor was doing that in his front yards. What do you think the odds are of hitting a water line. for him 100%
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:19 PM   #9
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


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Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
Use galvanized pipe instead of rebar, the rebar will not last in the treated wood.

I have never driven these bars but lot's of people do.
The neighbor was doing that in his front yards. What do you think the odds are of hitting a water line. for him 100%
Hi Neal, when I was planning I read your comment about rebar and the fact that raw steel gets eaten by pressure treated wood.

I am guilty of doing something I hate to see when discussing a topic with other people, I did research to justify my decision.....with huge bias.

Looks like code exempts the requirement for galvanized fasteners if they are over 1/2": http://www.mhpublicworks.us/files/20...od-Product.pdf

I will start with the flaws in my logic here, then I will go on to explain my decision for 1/2" rebar so that others can make their own choice.

Flaws:
- Code is bare minimum...do I really want to construct something with the bare minimum requirement?
- 1/2" rebar does not have the same average diameter of a 1/2" bolt, so there is less material there
- This is a complete assumption, 1/2" bolts are made from better steel than 1/2" rebar
- Ground contact and contact with pressure treated will probably accelerate the deterioration of the rebar

My thought process for choosing rebar (or excuses for stubbornly plowing forward with what I have):
- Not 1/2" consistent diameter but close enough, lots of material there to last the 10 year expected lifespan of the surround
- This is a 10 year feature that will be ripped out of my yard once my daughter is over having a playset in the yard....she is 3 now, at 13 I seriously doubt she will want anything to do with a playset
- Already had the rebar cut up nicely in the pieces I needed
- Worst case scenario is that the rebar rots in short order....I would feel the surround is not as solid as it was when first constructed during the inevitable reapplication of mulch/wood chips I will have to do. At that point I can add the spikes if I need to. The rebar will be under wood plugs so I will never see them again.

Any comments on mulch/wood chips?
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:19 PM   #10
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


I'm not all that knowledgeable on the different types of mulch but generally the heavier mulch lasts longer. The smaller mulch would be easier on feet/hands.
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:33 PM   #11
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Re: Landscape Timber Surround for Playset


My point is to have you understand before you decide and clearly you do.

We are getting mulched tires that would make a good play area I think. I am not sure of price or availability. You have to consider those small feet dealing with this stuff. The bigger stuff could be problem for her.
There is a heavy landscape cloth that comes 12 ft wide . That will keep the weeds down and when you want to change the mulch you can actually sweep it up.
This is the stuff they put under gravel.
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