Introduction: How to Build a Teepee

About: I am a domestic engineer, aka. a stay at home Mom. A former science geek, scenic carpenter, and quilter.

Make a teepee for your garden and your kids, for free. (instead of buying one for over $200.)
It's a great place to grow climbing plants, and a great place for the kids to hang out.
We've also noticed birds perching ontop of the teepee, which is fun to watch.

You will need:
Twine, rope, or yarn.
Climbing plants: Squash, pumpkins, peas, beans, etc.
A shovel
Manure/ Compost.
A willing Toddler.
A white canvas drop cloth. (optional)
Paint and sharpies (optional)

Step 1: Gather Sticks

Gather some sticks. We have very large pine trees with dead bottom branches. We pulled them down to use them. We also used sticks that had already fallen, and a few small trees of an invasive species that we cut down. For the teepee we made, the sticks are about 8 feet long for the main structure. You will need at least three. Sticks with a v on one end make things easier. You can cut longer branches to be the right size.

Step 2: Make Main Support.

Take your three big sticks, lay them down together. Wrap your rope around the branches, and tie it. Leave some rope hanging.
Stand it up, and spread out the sticks so that they stay up. This is where the V 's in the sticks really help.
Take the hanging rope and wrap it around the teepee to keep it all together.

This is not the official way to make a teepee. This is not how my Eagle Scout husband would make a teepee, and this method would not work great if you wanted to make a really big teepee. This is the Mom, while watching two toddlers, and trying not to injure anyone method, but it works.

Step 3: Make a Door

Picture the teepee to be more like a 3 sided pyramid, than a round teepee.
Decide what side you want an entrance. Take a long stick and put it vertical in the middle of the side you want the door. Just rest it in place.

Step 4: Make Cross Pieces

A real teepee does not have the cross pieces. I added them to make the structure a little more sturdy, to have something for the plants to grow up onto, and because the kids thought it looked cool.

Start with a side without a door.
Start at the bottom of the teepee. The first row I made is about a foot up. Find a stick that is long enough to go across, and lash it on. This web site gives good instructions on how to lash.

For the door, just put cross pieces across half of the side of the teepee. Don't put cross pieces across your doorway.

Continue adding cross pieces up to the top. I also added a few more vertical pieces. You can sort of weave the sticks in and out, lash them on, and you have a pretty secure structure.

Step 5: Add Plants

Now that your teepee frame is built, you can add plants. You want plants that are tall, good climbers, and fast growers. Plants with flowers or fruit are extra fun for the kids. We did squash, pumpkins, beans, sweat peas, corn, sun flowers and a tomato.

We dug a small hole at the bottom of the teepee, and made a mound adding dehydrated manure, (or use compost, or soil) We trasnplanted plants that were growing in other parts of the yard, but you could plant seeds or seedlings. You could even just put potted plants around the teepee. We tried adding a hanging plant to the top of the teepee, but it didn't look right.

Take good care of your plants, and lead them to grow up the teepee. You might need to tie some of them in place.

Step 6: Wrap the Teepee

If you don't want to grow plants, or if you can't wait for them to grow, you can wrap your teepee. We used an old canvas drop cloth. We literally just wrapped it around the teepee, and it stayed put. you could tie it on if you wanted it to be more permanent. Last year we made a smaller teepee and wrapped it with a large tapestry. (the kind you hang on your dorm room wall)

For added fun, have the kids paint the canvas to look like an authentic teepee.

Enjoy, and have a fun place for the kids to play this summer.

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