“It all started with the deck”, said Beth and Mark, as they began to describe their backyard transformation in the Franklin suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. When they moved into the house 2 years ago, the yard had been grossly neglected and presented a blank slate and opportunity for them to create exactly what they wanted. These two are avid hikers / campers and knew they wanted a space at home but outside to decompress after long days at work. The idea of a deck immediately began to take shape as the first connection to the house.
As Mark will say, “just prop up some chairs and sit with it for a bit to start dreaming”. That’s exactly what they did, and a plan began to take shape. They roughed out a 12×20 deck connecting the main house to the back yard. Mark has a construction background and knew he and Beth could do all the work themselves. They started digging the holes (they did rent an auger from Home Depot) and creating a foundation. As they secured the flooring and created the main structure, they decided to pursue an industrial look by using plumbing pipes for the handrails and galvanized pipes instead of wood for the rail posts. They also saved a lot of money on the way (i.e., $2/wood spindle vs $2/10ft of pipe)! The end result offers a less obstructed view of the remaining yard and trees. They had established a place to relax and furnished it with a dining table, seating area, and of course the charcoal grill.
Did I mention Mark loves to camp and fly fish? The idea of a river flowing through it came to mind as their yard had a natural dip that sometimes collects rainwater. They began to build a riverbed with a collection of rock they received from a neighbor’s egress project discards and Mark’s brother. They also found a great piece of driftwood to set off the space, and Mark built the bridge over the entire area. These projects filled a summer.
After enjoying the riverbed and bridge and dreaming of one of Mark’s favorite states, Wyoming, he longed for some split rail cedar fences, evergreen trees, and a mountain-like setting to spend cool fall evenings. So the work on the yard continued this summer. He began by connecting the bridge to split rails and planted blue spruce to frame the area. A fire pit soon followed and then serendipity happened – they procured a pressure washer (to maintain their new deck!), a wooden chaise lounge, and a wooden swing seat all from neighborhood tree lawns! Mark built a small pergola and secured the swing.
A few new cushions, adirondack chairs, accessories, and the final touch – a campfire sign from campgroundsigns.com – solidified the area as their suburban backyard mountain retreat. Last weekend we put it to the test – we snacked and chatted inside the house, moved to the deck for dinner, and then to the fire pit area for conversation and laughter well into the night.
Does this spur any ideas for your own backyard? If so, I hope you enjoy the journey as much as Beth and Mark have!