Building a Deck/Fence Around Our Concrete Pad

November seems like the perfect time for a large outdoor project, yes? Lol. I’ve talked about this before, but we inherited this large concrete, garage/parking pad in our backyard with the purchase of our house. I think the builder’s idea was to eventually put a garage here (and maybe we still will) as it’s at the end of our driveway, but we purchased the house before all of that could happen. It actually worked in our favor because a large garage would have raised the price of the house considerably, and we felt confident we could get creative with the space in the near future.

Backyard Plans

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

Except “near future” meant two years. I guess that’s not too bad, right?

What finally whipped us into action with this space is two very-mobile, very-fast toddlers named Nixon and Teller and their fascination with this concrete pad death trap. The drops around the perimeter of the pad range from 1′ to 4′. And of course, my kids like the 4′ drop sides the best—argh! It just got scary. And we stopped using our backyard because of it.

The other big frustration that drove us into action is just, in general, being tired of dealing with this super strange concrete hunk right in the middle of our play space. It was time to show it some love.

I think it took about 72 hours for me to call a bunch of people, get quotes and get someone hired. I was on a mission. We didn’t want to tackle this ourselves because it involves electrical and tools we don’t have and yea, the task just felt completely overwhelming. So this is definitely not a DIY. This is a sit-back, sip-tea and watch-the-progress project, which is GLORIOUS might I add.

Here were our goals for our new fence/deck:

  • Tall, 40″ wall to keep our kids safe and bring a little more privacy to the space
  • Electrical outlets installed so lights and appliances could be plugged in
  • Horizontal, modern style
  • Built-in planters to add a bit of style/form to the perimeter

And we have progress!!

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

The carpenter we’ve been working with has been SO wonderful. This isn’t exactly a normal fence design, nor a normal fence installation, but he has been so ready and willing to brainstorm with Aaron and I. And with his guidance, the result is much different (and better!) than our original plans. Speaking of original plans…

As far as our early plans, we originally thought we’d do an entire perimeter of planter boxes, similar to what Yellow Brick Home just did (above), but super tall (40″—more of a tall wall) and more skinny. We ultimately decided against it for a couple of reasons:

  • A shiplap-style horizontal board placement for 40″ high would mean we would get zero air flow in this space. By doing more of a shadowbox-style board placement (see photo below), it allowed us to still get that horizontal planking look we wanted, but without baking ourselves on those hot days
  • In the fall and winter, we needed a way to get the snow and leaves out. The shadowbox-style fence allows for a gap at the bottom, between the fence and the concrete, so snow and leaves can find their way out every side
  • We were worried about the dirt mess that comes with planters. At 40″ tall and skinny, it was almost certain that dirt overflow and mess would make their way down the wood. And that would make me sad
  • Additional cost, as we would essentially be building two walls, then connecting them to create a box
  • Loss of area space, as we would lose about 1′ of space on all sides.

So ultimately, the planter box approach is a great solution for a low-to-the-ground planter (it’s perfect for YBH’s approach… which doesn’t surprise me… they’re DIY geniuses) but for our space? Yea, not so much. The thing I was most bummed about was losing planting space, but we managed to sneak in two built-in planters at the entryway on either side. You can sort of see the beginnings of one planter in the photo below, but it will essentially be a large column planter (about 16″ square) flanking each side, creating an entry point to the area.

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

The other tricky piece of this project are the side walls of the concrete pad. At their highest, it’s about 4′ of concrete protruding from the ground. I wanted everything to look seamless, so we are covering that part up with decking too:

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

The last thing I was going back and forth on was how modern or traditional I wanted to go with the posts. We live in a very traditional, historic neighborhood, so I thought about doing something like the below—sort of a mash-up between the horizontal plank and taller fence posts with traditional caps. The capped posts are completely faux and would be screwed on top, around the full perimeter of the space. It intrigued me…

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

But ultimately, after I saw them removed, I knew it was best to be a little more modern and keep the top rail completely flat.

Backyard Fence/Deck Progress

Y’all, I am just so excited to get this done. We were out there last night before dinner and it’s been such a relief that my kids can play. Plus, it looks like this once out-of-place concrete hunk now has real purpose.

We’ll wait until Spring to stain and decorate the space (and naturally, paint the floor!) but until then, we’re just happy to have our backyard back.

I’ll post again as soon as all the building is done!



Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Kim says:

    Super smart use of the space!

    So is there no garage? I’m such a weenie about winters and now that I have an attached garage for the first time ever, I think I’m going to become even more of a weakling.

    • Emily May says:

      No garage! We brave the winters around here. One day we will. Totally jealous of yours! I’ll be thinking of you and that garage as I’m trying to shovel out my car in the coming months! Lol!

  • Nice looking fence, great work!

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