With the warmer months fast approaching, it’s time to start planning some epic summer fun! From spending time by the pool to indulging in a little backyard camping, there are so many activities to look forward to, including creating a backyard fort!

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the outdoors here at Outer. We’ll take any excuse to switch off our technology and enjoy some time outside with our families, so building a fort is the DIY backyard opportunity we’ve been searching for.

Keep reading to learn more about how to build the ultimate backyard fort, including selecting the fort structure that works best for you, what materials you’ll need, and the finishing touches that will make your backyard fort the best it can be!

What Exactly Is A Backyard Fort?

backyard fort next to a tire swing

Typically, backyard forts are made from fabric, wood, or recyclable materials such as cardboard or branches.

There are plenty of different forms your fort could take, and building one makes for a fun DIY project that you and your kids can be proud of.

Fortunately, backyard forts don’t need to be complicated or time-consuming to put together. In fact, depending on the style of fort you choose to create, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to just a couple of fun-filled afternoons!

Backyard Fort Styles

Fabric Forts

Tent backyard fort

Fabric forts are among the easiest styles to build. They’re simple, straightforward, and take little time to set up. In fact, kids will likely be able to put this type of backyard fort together almost entirely by themselves.

Fabric forts might use existing items like tables as their foundation — simply throw a sheet over the top and you’ve got yourself a basic fort!

Other styles of classic, kid-friendly fabric forts include teepees and simple tents made by attaching a piece of string between two trees and draping fabric over the string.

Wooden Forts

While wooden forts may not be quite as easy to assemble as a fabric fort, we can’t deny that they look incredible and add a whole new element of fun to the backyard!

These forts require a little extra planning to make sure they’re safe and structurally sound, and they’ll definitely need adult assistance to get them kid-ready.

You can make your wooden fort as simple or extravagant as you want — it all comes down to how much room you have available in your backyard and how much time you have on your hands!

Whether you build a wooden fort directly on the ground or higher up amongst the trees, this style of fort makes for a fun summer DIY project and will keep the kids entertained for many years to come.

Recyclable Forts

backyard fort made of cardboard
Source: backyardkid.com

At Outer, we’re all about sustainability, so the idea of an eco-friendly, recyclable fort is music to our ears!

This style of fort can be made from a variety of materials, but the most common are cardboard boxes or sticks found around the backyard or neighborhood.

If you have cardboard boxes on hand, creating a fort is a great way to get some extra use out of those materials before recycling them. Alternatively, collecting and using sticks and branches is the perfect way to teach kids about creating sustainable fun.

Recyclable forts are also incredibly easy to set up and tear down once your summer adventure is finished, so they’re perfect if you’re looking for an easy, temporary option.

Steps For Building Your Own Backyard Fort

1) Choose Your Fort Style

The first step in building your backyard fort is to select the style of fort you’re going to create. This could be from our suggestions above or a completely new style — now is the time to get creative!

When choosing your fort style, be sure to consider your climate, how permanent you want your backyard fort to be, and how much time you’re able to dedicate to perfecting this new structure.

If you’re planning on including any fun additional aspects to really take your fort to the next level — such as a slide, mini ropes course, or sandpit — be sure to factor them into your planning phase to know how they’ll incorporate into your design.

2) Gather Your Materials

Kids building a backyard fort with sticks

Depending on which style you’re going to build, the materials you’ll need will vary greatly.

For a fabric fort, your list of materials might include:

  • Rope long enough to tie between two trees or poles
  • A sheet or another piece of fabric to drape over your rope
  • An existing piece of furniture such as an outdoor dining table (optional)

For a wooden fort, you’ll likely need:

  • Wood of your choice
  • Nails and/or screws
  • A hammer and/or a power drill
  • A saw (handheld or electric)
  • A measuring tape
  • A level
  • Safety gear, including gloves and glasses
  • Wood stain or oil
  • Concrete mix and a bucket
  • Sandpaper or an electric sander

For a recyclable fort, you should gather:

  • Cardboard boxes or sticks and branches
  • Duct tape or string to secure your materials together
  • Paint and paintbrushes to decorate

3) Start Building!

After gathering your materials (and ensuring you have a safe and structurally sound building plan for the more complex fort designs), it’s time to start building your backyard fort!

Select your optimum fort-building location by considering the amount of sun vs. shade you might have in your backyard and whether or not your design requires trees nearby to bear some of the load.

If your little ones don’t require adult assistance for assembling their new creation, let them go ahead and explore through trial and error.

When the fort is up and running, enjoy decorating the outside together with paint and markers. Put your own personal touch on the fort and make it somewhere your kids are excited to spend time in all summer!

4) Make It Cozy

Picnic style backyard fort
Source: leapfrog.com

Once you’ve built your backyard fort structure, it’s time to make it cozy inside and fill it with all the things kids might need to have an epic summer.

We recommend starting your decorating process by laying down a soft furnishing, like one of our Eco-Friendly Rugs. Made from 100% recycled materials, our rugs repel dirt and stains, making them a breeze to clean — perfect for those accidental snack spills in the fort!

After you’ve created a soft foundation, start bringing in cozy blankets and pillows, soft toys, and furniture (think simple foldable camping chairs and a milk crate to use as a table).

If you have safe access to outdoor power, you may even want to add in a lamp or some string lights so the fort can be enjoyed during those long summer evenings as well as during the day.

5) Throw In Some Fun

Now that you’ve got yourself the comfiest, coziest backyard fort you could imagine, let’s bring in some activities for the kids to enjoy.

From materials for painting, drawing, and coloring to board games and playing cards, the options are endless when it comes to summer fun inside the fort!

We love opportunities to disconnect from our screens and simply enjoy time outdoors, so we recommend packing your fort with your favorite children’s books, puzzles, some costumes for playing dress-up and make-believe, and anything else to help your kids’ imagination run wild.

6) The Final Touches

When it comes to putting the final touches on your outdoor creation, we believe no backyard fort is complete without a flag or sign!

Use wood or cardboard to create a sign to hang above the door of your fort, or create a flag by drawing or painting on a simple piece of material such as an old sheet or pillowcase.

To take the final decorative touches a step further, consider creating some posters to hang inside your fort.

And, of course, your backyard isn’t all about the kids — adults need somewhere comfy to lounge and relax while the little ones play!

Our 5-Seater Teak Outdoor Corner Sectional (which also comes in a stylish Wicker option) is just one way to take your backyard seating to the next level with Outer.

Both sectional options are easy to arrange and rearrange to suit your seating needs, simple to clean, and made from the same materials as premium mattresses for optimum comfort (yes, really!).

Pair your sofa or sectional with one of our timeless Coffee Tables and you’ll have an outdoor area that rivals your new backyard fort for the best seat outside the house!

A Summer To Remember With Outer

Kids looking at their backyard from their patio furniture

No matter which backyard fort option you choose, we know you’ll have a fun-filled summer enjoying time outdoors as a family.

When building your fort, be sure to follow the tips in this guide such as selecting the right fort style for your backyard and making it comfortable and cozy by decorating and styling to perfection!

Don’t forget to create a space for the adults, too! Our range of sofas and sectionals including our 5-Seater Teak or Wicker Outdoor Corner Sectionals offer the perfect combination of low-maintenance care and optimum comfort for the ultimate outdoor experience.