I wanted to get a big slip ‘n slide to set up in our backyard, but they all cost over $150 for the size I wanted. I decided to make my own homemade water slide for a lot cheaper. Here’s how I did it.
Make Your Own Water Slide Steps:
- Find A Good Location
- Pick Out The Slide Material
- Lay Out The Slide Material
- Add A Side To The Slide
- Secure The Slide
- Set Up The Hose
- Add Lubricator To Slide
- Protect The Grass
- Slide Storage
This whole project should take about a half an hour, and can be done for under $60 for a large slide up to 100 feet. You could do it for under $30 for a smaller slide depending on what you use as your slide material.
1. Find A Good Location
The absolute best location for a water slide would be a long, cleared, grassy area with a slope. If you can find a hill, great, but look the longest stretch of open grass that you can use. Of course if you’re building the water slide in your own yard, you’ll be limited by your yards size. But a sloped area over 100 feet long is ideal.
- 100 feet or more in length
- At least 10 feet wide
- On a hill or a slope
- No obstructions
- No rocks, roots, or sticks
- No holes or depressions
To prepare the location, remove all the rocks or sticks from the area. You’ll want to do this before laying out the slide. You can always lift the slide material up and remove any rocks you find after, but finding a rock after you’ve gone down the slide is usually a bit painful. It doesn’t take long to walk the location and look for roots, holes, rocks, and sticks.
Consider using dirt to fill any holes, and dig up any large protruding rocks that could injure someone sliding through the area.
If you’ve found the perfect location, but there happens to be some roots or divots in the yard that you think might hurt the sliders. Consider, laying out an old blanket or a couple layers of old clothes to cover the problem areas. Then when you lay the slide over it, anyone sliding in that area should be protected.
2. Pick Out Your Slide Material
I recommend using this TRM Manufacturing Plastic Sheeting from Amazon for the slide material. It’s 10′ wide, 100′ long, and comes on a roll for under $50. This plastic sheeting is 6 mil, which is about the thickness of a trash bag you use in the kitchen. It’s strong enough for people to slide on, but be careful laying this on top of rocks, sharp rocks can cut through this plastic.
I suggest the plastic sheeting for 50 bucks. It’s the cheapest way to make a giant water slide like this that I could find.
If you have a smaller area, or want to make a smaller slide, I suggest just getting a tarp from your local hardware store like this Waterproof Camping Tarp on Amazon. These are a lot smaller, usually only 12 feet long, so you may need to buy a couple of them to fit your space.
Multiple tarps are easy to overlap, you’ll see how that works in the securing step. I would recommend putting some tape over the grommets found on the tarp though. The little metal rings that go around the outside of the tarp could hurt someone sliding over them. They are usually clamped on pretty good, but can lift over time.
The last option you have for slide material is this Wahii Lawn Water Slide from Amazon. This slide is 12 feet wide, 75 feet long, and made for making your own backyard water slide. The only problem for me is the cost, they go for around $150, which I was trying to avoid spending in the first place. If you don’t mind spending the money though, this is the best water slide material, and can be used over and over again.
3. Lay Out The Slide Material
If you’ve already walked and cleared the desired slide location, this step will be easy. Just lay the slide material out where you want the slide to be. If you have the giant roll of plastic sheeting, this step is easiest with more than one person. Get someone to hold the roll of plastic with a broom handle through the center, while someone else pulls the plastic sheeting over the yard.
The second time you need to roll this slide out will be easier depending on how you store it. I’ll show you how we made our lives easier in the slide storage step later on.
If you’re using multiple tarps, put the tarps at the bottom of the slide underneath and layer them. You want to be able to slide from one tarp to the other, and the water will need to be able to flow from one tarp onto the tarp beneath it. The tarp at the top of the slide should be on top, and the tarp at the bottom of the slide should be underneath.
4. Add A Side To The Slide
We found it best to add a side to the slide to help keep the water flowing in the right direction, and to keep the sliders on the slide better. Wrapping some pool noodles under the sides of the plastic sheeting is the simplest way to do this. This can also work for tarps as well.
We’ve had the best results just wrapping a pool noodle under the side of the plastic on both sides for the length of the slide to keep people from sliding off the edges.
If you’re having problems keeping the pool noodles in place, you could try getting some Velcro strips with adhesive on one side. Wrap the plastic around the pool noodle, and place the Velcro strips so they will hold the plastic around the pool noodle.
Add Velcro Strips To Plastic Sheeting:
- Start with one Velcro strip on the underside of the plastic sheeting
- Wrap the edge of the plastic sheeting around the pool noodle
- Place the other side of the Velcro strip on the plastic where it can hold the pool noodle in place, wrapped in the edge of the plastic
Using this Velcro method will add time to the setup and might not even be necessary if you have a straight, evenly sloped, slide. You could also just secure the pool noodles in place as you secure the slide in the next step, but securing the top of the slide, laying some pool noodles under the edges, and folding the plastic under them, has worked really well for us.
5. Secure The Slide
Some people might want to secure the slide on the edges all the way down the slope, which is a good idea. But the most important part of securing the slide for us, has been at the top of the slide. If you don’t secure the top properly, it ends up getting all bunched up, and the rest of the slide all the way down gets shifted out of place.
What we do is get a long piece of wood, like a 10 foot long piece of 2×4. Wrap the top plastic of the slide around the wood a few times, and garden stake the wood to the ground. You may need to drill some holes in the wood or use a couple stakes on each side to secure it.
Secure The Top Of The Slide:
- Wrap the top of slide around a wooden plank or 2×4 a few times
- Secure the plastic to the wood with duct tape (optional)
- Secure the wood to the ground with garden stakes
- Drill holes into the wooden plank and secure to ground with a stake through the hole (optional)
It’s a good idea to have the top of the slide on flat ground to make securing easier, but not necessary. Now, secure the sides of the slide every 10 or 20 feet. Securing the sides may not be necessary, it will help keep the slide from shifting and bunching up, But with a straight shot slide, you may be fine without it.
We’ve had the best results securing the slide every 10 to 20 feet or so with some cheap garden staples we had laying around.
If you’re having trouble keeping the pool noodles in place, consider securing the slide and keeping the pool noodle sides in place with the same stake. Just punch the stake down through the pool noodle and the plastic sheeting to secure it to the ground.
I like these 12″ Garden Staples from Amazon for doing this. They’re thin enough that they don’t leave a huge hole in the pool noodle or the plastic, but long enough to secure the slide nicely. They go for around $15, but a lot of people might already have something like this they can use. Just find something that won’t injure someone if they get caught on it.
6. Set Up The Hose
We put a nozzle on the end of our garden hose and leave it near the top of the slide. That way we can quickly spray water on the slide whenever we need to. It’s not really necessary to have the hose constantly spraying on the slide, so using a quick handheld spray nozzle worked great.
For the most part, the water you spray at the top will find its way down the slide and the whole slide will be wet. If you notice some areas that dry out, you may need a hose that can spray further, or position the hose near the middle of the slide, where you can spray the whole thing from one location.
A fun idea is to have a sprinkler setup that people can slide through, and also continually wet the slide. If you’re slide is 100 feet long, you may need more than one sprinkler to cover the whole slide though. Get creative here, this is what makes it a water slide.
7. Add Lubricator To Slide
You may not even need anything to lubricate the slide depending on what slide material you use, water could be enough. Be even if water’s enough, I still suggest putting a little baby shampoo on the slide to make it more slippery. You might want to be careful though, if you have a really steep slide, people may slide quick enough without any soap.
We like to add a little baby shampoo throughout the slide every 10 people that go down. This will make the slide go faster, and can reduce the amount of water you need to use.
You can use dish soap as well, but I don’t recommend it. We like the baby shampoo because it won’t burn your eyes if you accidentally get some soapy water in them. You may need to reapply some soap here and there as it gets washed away from watering the slide. Now go have a blast!
Here’s a fun video of some people who made a giant slide that ended in a lake. This video alone should give you enough motivation to build your own.
8. Protect The Grass
You’re most likely laying the slide out over your grass. If so, I have some tips on how to protect your grass for you. Laying the clear plastic sheeting, coupled with the water underneath or on top of it, acts like a magnifying glass, and could kill the grass underneath.
Leaving the plastic out on the lawn over night isn’t really an issue, unless you leave it out for days in a row. The problem is the clear plastic may heat your grass up and kill it. You could easily solve this by getting an opaque, not see through, plastic sheeting to use as your slide.
But I couldn’t find any opaque plastic sheeting that was as cheap as the plastic sheeting I recommended above. If you’re using tarps or the blue Wahii water slide, you won’t have this problem. But you may have some fungal problems with all the moisture trapped under the slide all day. Here’s how I would fix these problems.
Heated/Burned Grass Fix:
Put some slow release nitrogen fertilizer on the affected areas of grass. Milorganite is a good example of what to use. This won’t immediately turn your grass green right away, it’s slow release, but will solve the problem in time.
There really isn’t a way to prevent this from happening, aside from using the slide for less than 4 or 5 hours at a time, or not using a clear plastic sheeting.
Fungal Disease In Grass:
Some grass types, like St. Augustine’s, are really sensitive to being chocked of oxygen. Because of this, and the moisture of the slide, fungal diseases can happen in some yards.
Corn meal is a popular method to use for fungal control. Simply sprinkle some cornmeal around the affected areas and let it work. The cornmeal will grow a predatory fungus while it decays. That predatory fungus will kill off any surface fungi that has started to kill you grass.
We haven’t had any major issues with our lawn dying, usually any damage done is fixed on it’s own in a few days. But this is an issue of concern for some people.
9. Slide Storage
This step is really important if you plan on using your slide again and again. You need to store it properly, or the slide could grow mold which is a pain to clean off and deal with. The first tip is to completely dry out the slide when you’re done using it. Make sure the slide is bone dry before rolling it up and storing it for a while.
If you’re using a clear plastic sheeting, I suggest moving the slide to another part of the yard to dry it, to help prevent the grass from getting overheated. When one side is dry, flip the plastic over to dry the other side. When both sides are dry you can roll it up for storage.
The tip that makes our lives easier is the way we roll the slide up. First, fold the plastic sheet in half a couple times the long way. For example, you would end up with a folded sheet a few feet wide and 100 feet long. Then roll the slide up from there. Using a 2×4 or metal pole to roll the slide onto, will save you setup time and make your life easier later on.
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