Building A Living Playhouse

Building A Living Playhouse

Part of Ep. 1002 Spring Games

Create a wonderful playhouse out of concrete reinforcing wire covered in leftover prunings or vining plants.  It's a perfect hideaway for children.

Premiere date: May 22, 2002

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
There's another use for leftover prunings. We join Astrid Newenhouse to learn how to turn these into a wonderful playhouse for kids. Hi, Astrid.

Astrid:
Hi, Shelley.

Shelley:
This is cool. I want one!

Astrid:
Isn't it great?

Shelley:
This is concrete reinforcing wire, right?

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
I never thought of using it for this.

Astrid:
I got this at-- I bought a roll at one of those big hardware stores, concrete reinforcing wire. And it was hard to work with because that roll is tight, and it just wants to just "boing!"

Shelley:
It's dangerous. I've used it to make tomato cages. They're wonderful, but it's real difficult to work with.

Astrid:
Yes, so safety glasses, gloves, and I cut it with these bolt cutters.

Shelley:
You know, I bet that's a lot easier than a hacksaw.

Astrid:
You used a hacksaw?!

Shelley:
We were new in the neighborhood, we had no tools. But why do you have, now you have it stuck in the ground?

Astrid:
I cut the bottom wire off to make these stakes. And then all I did was jam it into the ground, like that.

Shelley:
So, it stays real sturdy just like my tomato cages, then.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
Now, the hoop, how did that happen? It's perfect.

Astrid:
This is 15 feet worth, and it's the shape that it made.

Shelley:
Oh, just from being in the roll?

Astrid:
Right. It's so easy.

Shelley:
And you were weaving these sticks and twigs in it. Why is that?

Astrid:
We were new in the neighborhood last year. We had never done this before. Our yard was a mud pit from a construction project, and our neighbor, Joann, offered us her yard for an instant playhouse. And so, we wanted to cover it right away, so that the kids could play in it right away.

Shelley:
Oh, sure, you didn't have to wait for anything to grow up on it. And, so you've got, it looks like just prunings basically.

Astrid:
Right. So, I wove fresh prunings through it and the kids did, too.

Shelley:
And some decorations!

Astrid:
Isn't that great. They found some larch cones and decorated their clubhouse with that.

Shelley:
You know, you could really have fun with this. You could weave ornamental grasses in there, or you could hang flowers from it, or something. The kids could have a lot of fun, instead of me! Now, you've got some other, you've got flowers down here too, just to make it more colorful?

Astrid:
Yeah, we wanted some instant beauty, so we planed the geraniums. We also planted some Lamb's Ears, these furry, you know that furry leaf that kids like to pet.

Shelley:
And I like to pet them, too!

Astrid:
Yep.

Shelley:
And then you started your planting trench here. What did you try last year?

Astrid:
We tried, this was an experiment. So, we tried anything we had that vined-- Pumpkins, Nastertium, beans, Morning Glories, gourds. Here's peas, Scarlet Runner Beans.

Shelley:
See, I've had great success with those for vining. And then, cucumbers, too. And then, after your experiment, what worked? What was successful?

Astrid:
Well, for us, the pumpkins worked really well. And the gourds worked really well.

Shelley:
Now you did the little pumpkins.

Astrid:
Yes, because we wanted lots of pumpkins to share with other friends in the neighborhood. And the whole hut was covered in vines. You should have seen those leaves, they were huge leaves.

Shelley:
So, even in part shade, you had plenty of cover for the kids.

Astrid:
Yeah, you're always going to get leaves. And the gourds and the pumpkins were just growing all over, the little tendrils were hanging down. It was really fun.

Shelley:
And what did the kids think of that?

Astrid:
Oh, they loved it. Oh, my gosh.

Shelley:
So, did your daughter use it mostly as her garden hideaway, or did she camp out in it or what does she think of this?

Astrid:
She calls this her clubhouse.

Shelley:
Oh, really, okay.

Astrid:
And she plays in there, and has friends over and they have snacks in there, and they sing and dance. And once, I came out and she was carrying this huge toad that she had found, and giving her toad a tour of her clubhouse.

Shelley:
A tour, that must've taken a while. Poor toad!

Astrid:
It's really a fun place.

Shelley:
You know, I think I want one for myself. I guess I could share it with my kid.

Astrid:
That's great.

Shelley:
What about winter? Do you think you could use something like this in the wintertime?

Astrid:
Sure, you could put evergreen boughs on it. Birds would like that. Snow would pile up on it.

Shelley:
And the kids could pretend it's an igloo, if it's not too cold out.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
Now, one concern I think of right away with this, is I wouldn't want to use any chemicals to either kill the weeds in this site, or on the plants themselves.

Astrid:
That's right, and no poisonous plants, either, like no Lily of the Valley.

Shelley:
Good point. Well, I brought you some extra prunings, so let's get to work. This looks like fun.

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