Curb Appeal: Transforming the Side Yard, Part 2

Last I left you we were on our way to transforming the jungle of a side yard that is the left side of our home (from the street view) into a cozy outdoor dining nook. More progress to share today!

Here’s a glance at the yard just as this project was breaking ground:

And here’s where we left off after the last post:

Next up for Kevin was digging a terribly long trench that stretched from the existing wall in the back all the way to the front of the house. Talk about back breaking work! The trench ended up at about two feet wide and 40 feet long. 

It’s hard to see in that above photo, but just below the pink paper is our neighbor’s existing sidewalk, and the trench drops down into that dark dirt just below. Our neighbors have been awesome during this entire process (they’re wonderful neighbors, seriously the best) and we’ve definitely been invading their space.

And here’s the existing block wall that we’re building off of (though the walls won’t actually touch until the very end and they receive an overlapping final coat of a tan shade of concrete – same color that is there now):

Here’s a close up of the footings which will help hold the rebar (an important part of the internal structure of this wall) in place:

The rebar slips up and over the metal prongs protruding from those concrete blocks.

Finally we brought in a cement truck for a few hours to help fill in that trench with a thick layer of cement. Alternately, Kevin could have mixed the concrete himself and filled the long trench with wheelbarrows full, but we find that Craigslist is a great resource to find a concrete truck that has a couple of extra hours available in between big projects at an inexpensive rate. Kev’s done the whole mixing concrete thing himself (we still have a concrete mixer in the back somewhere) and it’s great for little projects!

To get said concrete into the trench, we also hired a Craigslist subcontractor that handles pumping the cement from the truck directly into the trench (rather than pumping concrete into a wheelbarrow and manually into the trench – which can take many, many round trips!).

Very soon the trench was looking more like this! Kevin and his friend David are carefully leveling and measuring as they go. This newly filled trench will provide the base for the concrete block and it needs to be perfectly flat so that we end up with a nice and straight wall.

Getting there! So very close. Next up is stacking the concrete block and mortaring in place.

Here’s to that stud in the white shirt and khaki shorts that keeps knocking this wall out (or up?) one day at a time.

You can follow the side yard transformation with our breaking ground post here, and more outdoor projects can be found right here.


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