Grow a Living Playhouse For Your Kids

Let your children watch the walls grow and eat from them while they’re at it!

Children love playing “house” and building forts… why not help them grow one made of plants to inspire them to spend more time in nature?

It can be difficult to get kids to spend time outdoors these days with the lack of green space and all the electronic distractions indoors. A natural playhouse that provides shade, food plucked from the vine, and scope for the imagination might be just the trick.

There are plenty of ideas for how to make these little garden houses trending on the internet right now, made from a wide variety of flowering and fruiting plants.

Here are some of our favorites:

The Runner Bean Teepee

According to, the “runner bean teepee” is the easiest to build of all the living playhouses.

What You’ll Need:

  • About 10 long bamboo canes or tree branches, at least 6 feet long


  • Chicken wire (optional)
  • A flat patch of grass or clover in your garden


  1. Stake your bamboo canes into the ground in a circle, and form a large pyramid/teepee shape. Leave a large open between two of the canes for a doorway. Secure the top together with garden string, cable tie, twine or wire.
  2. Cover the pyramid/teepee (except for the entrance) with chicken wire or a web of gardening string.
  3. Dig a 1-foot wide garden bed in the shape of a ring around the base of the bamboo canes and fill with compost or manure.
  4. Using your finger, poke two 2-inch holes at the base of each cane. Drop one runner bean seed into each hole and fill with water. Once the water has drained away, gently drag soil back over the holes and water again thoroughly.
  5. Protect seedlings from slugs with organic slug pellets or by manually removing them each evening until the bean plants are about 6 inches tall. (They can also be started in pots and transplanted when they are 6-inches tall).
  6. Carefully wrap the bean shoots around the bamboo canes and string, until they begin to climb naturally.
  7. Cover the base of the plants with lawn clippings, wood chips or mulch to keep weeds down and moisture in. Water frequently.

The Willow Den

According to Blue Stem Nursery, willow tree branches can be used to make living fences, chairs, tunnels, teepees, domes or whatever other structure you can dream up.

“Just stick long willow branches directly into the ground, tie them together into the desired shape and they will root and grow, producing a cover of green leaves over the structure,” the nursery says.

What You’ll Need:

  • A large bundle 1, 2 and 3-year-old living green willow rods, 6 feet or longer (these can be purchased from Blue Stem Nursery)
  • Weed-suppressing membrane or straw for under the structure


  1. Lay your weed-suppressing mat where you want to floor of the playhouse to be
  2. Puncture holes through the membrane where your rods will be planted.
  3. Plant the 3-year-old rods as the main frame of the structure and the entrance
  4. Use the 2-year-old rods for vertical support, and 1-year-old rods as the diagonal weave.
  5. The top of the den will be open at first. New growth can gradually be woven and tied at the top.

Check out the Living Willow Sculpture book for more details:

Other plants you could incorporate into your playhouse include sweet peas, grape vines and sunflowers.

Let your imagination run wild: