Pioneering at home DIY playground for maker families

I recently started pioneering in my garden. Many people know the techniques of using ropes and poles from scouting (if you don't know them: it's easy!), but no one seems to take it beyond scouting. I have introduced pioneering in our family as an alternative to buying a playground, which turned out to be a cheaper, more flexible and educational choice over a pre-built kit.

Below are some details of my kit, which cost less than 200! (compared to 1200 for a decent playground kit)



I got my poles from a local wood wholesale ( They're impregnated pine poles, milled to a round and smooth surface. You could work with anything from bamboo over rough branches to garden poles for your projects, I prefer these.

For my kit, I got 8 poles for each of 4 lengths:

  • 8 x 4m ⌀ 10cm
  • 8 x 3m ⌀ 10cm
  • 8 x 2m ⌀ 8cm
  • 8 x 1m ⌀ 8cm

The poles cost me 180.


I got polypropylene rope ( from our local scouting shop.

You'll need a few hundred meters of rope. The rope is cut to pieces of a bit over 6 meter and melted at both ends with a lighter.

For my kit, I got

  • 300 meter ⌀ 4mm polypropylene rope

The rope cost me 20.


With this kit you can build a lot of different playgrounds and other constructions. If you're unfamiliar with pioneering, it's really easy! IMHO, you'll need to learn 4 techniques to start. Though, there's more where these came from (

Two knots

Timber hitch. I start my lashings with this knot. (click me!)

Clove hitch. Used to (start and) end lashings. (click me!)

Two lashings

Square lashing. (click me!)

Tripod lashing. (click me!)

Further reading

Here's some sites with free books

There's a lot more out there (


Here's the a setup in our garden. I built two tripods (4m poles held together by 2m poles), constructed a bridge (3m) with railing (4m) and some steps. There's also a swing hanging from the second tripod. Thanks to Tom and Dirk for helping me working toward this version.

Here's a second one. Two 3m tripods and a 4m quadpod (interesting lashing!) with a bridge and a bunch of climbing poles.

Here's a third, slightly different setup. I made two rectangular frames with diagonals for stability. I added a waterslide and simple bridges into our climbing trees for more fun. To be extended as I still have a bunch of poles that weren't used int his construction yet.

That's just a few of many, many possible constructions. Just search around the net for some pioneering projects ( and let your imagination go!

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