At the time when I was considering building my own sandbox for my sons, my mother told me that at one time my great-grandfather built a sandbox for my brother and me. He made it using materials he had on hand. He sifted the play sand with a meshed wire rack to remove rocks and other debris. He put together a simple tent-like cover for it, and he dug a drainage trench around the perimeter of the sandbox to keep it dry.
Today, an internet search will return millions of results of video, diagrams, and instructions on how to build your own sandbox. Small fully assembled sandboxes (4 x4) are available. There are retail outlets that sell unassembled sandbox packages. But whether you build your own or put together an unassembled sandbox, you may need to purchase certain tools that you do not have, landscape fabric to keep weeds out, and purchase or build some sort of a cover when it’s not in use to keep debris and animals out. If the sandbox will be located in a sunny area, you will need to purchase a canopy. All sandboxes will require separately purchased sand. However, when purchasing play sand, be mindful of the carcinogenic effect of some of the sand on the market. The kind of play sand that should not be bought is made from crushed rock.
To determine the amount of play sand, find the volume of your sandbox by measuring the length, width, and height to within 2-3 inches from the top. These dimensions will equal its volume in cubic feet. For example, a 6 x 6 x 1 foot sandbox equals 36 cubic feet. A 50 lb. bag of play sand equals one-half of a cubic foot. Therefore, 27 bags would fill the sandbox to about three-quarters (9 inches) of the way to the top (6 x 6 x .75 = 27).
When I went through the process of deciding whether to buy a fully assembled, unassembled sandbox, or to build my own, I found that the cost to build a sandbox was just a few dollars less than if I purchased an unassembled sandbox. And even more so if I consider the cost of my time as being equal to paying someone else to do the work.
Because my sandbox had to be large enough to accommodate my two grandsons, beach pails with shovels, and toy trucks, I found that small fully assembled sandboxes were just too small.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, that’s great, build a sandbox yourself. But I am not the DIY type. Unlike in my great grandfather’s day, I have other options. Fortunately, with some research, I found an 8 x 8 x 1 sandbox that included landscape fabric, a canopy, cover, and needed no special tools to assemble. And, it took an afternoon to assemble instead of a weekend to build my own.