Sunday, May 25, 2014

Courtyard Update -- I've Been Decked (It Only Took About Six Years)

Here's a long-promised update on my big backyard courtyard project.  If you've followed this blog for very long, you know that I have a ton of projects going on simultaneously, and some that languish, to the chagrin of She Who Must Be Obeyed.  So last year I promised I would do something with the footers I had dug years ago, otherwise known as the Big Dig.

 Last spring, I gave up on the idea of pouring footers and building a brick fence. Some of you may question this decision. Sorry, but now that it's done, I think I made the right decision.  It was shaping up to be too big of a job to do myself, and I lacked the funds to pay someone to do it.  Instead, I went for building a wood fence.  Here's how that went:

First, a flashback to what things looked like when we moved in:

Wouldn't this area look nice as a fenced in courtyard?  And wouldn't that tree make a cool carved tiki guy?

So with some outstanding help from Daughter Atom and a close family friend, we did two things -- 1) we poured this concrete pad near the back door where I plan to eventually install a hot tub:

 Here's your tired old Uncle after stage one of the hot tub pad...

And his youthful ward and all around awesome laborer standing beside the nearly finished pad.

And after we got the pad poured, 2) we dug below the footer forms and poured concrete for the fence posts, then back filled the footer hole and slowly (very slowly) I leveled out all the dirt inside the fence. 

With the posts cemented into the ground last summer, I started putting the pre-stained horizontal planks on to form the fence, being careful to level everything and get a uniform gap between each board.

 Huge gates are there to enable me to someday get a hot tub inside the courtyard, or anything else that's big.

 By the time winter arrived, this is where the project was stalled.  Dirt floor, everywhere, but at least the big dig was no more!

Over the winter, I debated putting in concrete, or bricks, or slate, or decking for the floor.  Eventually I decided to build a ground level deck to cover most of the space inside the fence. To do that, I knew I would need to do some more dirt moving and digging, then sink 4x4 treated posts in concrete.  From March through much of April I dug post holes, hauled bags of concrete mix, cut my posts, lined everything up and one by one put about 30 posts into the ground.  I spread the work out, but even so my back was killing me after moving hundreds of pounds of concrete mix from the truck out front by wheelbarrow to the back yard.

Once the concrete was set in the post holes, I started running floor joists between the posts with 2x8 treated lumber, forming a grid of sorts.  With everything as level as I could get it, I started screwing down 5/4x6 treated decking.

 This is where I am today.  I've still got to finish framing around Maynard and once the treated decking has dried out enough, I have to stain that.  Working on this, as you may imagine, has taken most of my spare time for quite a while, and it's the main reason I haven't updated this blog much, but I promise I'll provide an update soon - I have a few decorating ideas that you might like, so stay tuned.


  1. Looks good! Can't wait to see the finished project. I do want to come and worship at your Tiki God sometime. Maybe pay some tribute with some sort of Hops infused beverage.

    1. Thanks! I think we can arrange that - probably looking at later this summer.

  2. I love it when long time projects start to show fruit. Keep up the good work, It will soon be worth the sore back and toil!

    1. Thanks Mick, I appreciate the encouragement, your big projects have been one of my motivators!