Up in our backyard

Back when Farrell and I first moved into our house, our backyard was a cement slab that we used as a space for constructing scaffolding for other projects, but we knew someday that it would be a place where we would want to hang out and enjoy summertime.

There was a bathroom on the back of the house that we removed, and once it was gone, we were very happy, but frankly, the backyard was still a total bummer.

C’mon, don’t try to be nice. It was a sucky backyard.

After the debris was cleared out we (by “we” I mean Farrell and our friend John) built a frame which would support a poured cement floor. (This would be one of those situations where I took on the childcare role so Farrell could work unencumbered. Otherwise known as taking one for the team. I did make a nice dinner that night to round out my housewiferly duties.)

Then, the cement guys came and poured a nice patio.

I didn’t take any pictures of when the hot tub got delivered and carried through the house to the backyard. It was too stressful carrying that massive thing across the new hardwood floors and out the backdoor. Imagine that part. I also didn’t take any photos of the walls getting raised and stuccoed. We raised all the walls to a total height of about 12 feet and covered them with a nice, sandy colored stucco.

After all that, the next step was bricking in the part of the yard that isn’t raised. The sand and bricks were delivered from a neighborhood company. The best part? They drove everything over on a forklift, from about 15 blocks away. Sorry, I don’t have photos of the delivery of that either. I was too busy trying to keep William from going into seizures, he was so excited to see a forklift in real life, AT OUR HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!

Bringing the sand and brick up the alley to the backyard:

A ton of sand, moved in increments up the alley. (That’s not all of it…)

That guy is our friend Nico. The neighborhood kids always want to help with these sorts of projects. It’s great, actually. Would our homeowner’s insurance cover their injuries? Happily, we haven’t had to find out the answer to that question yet.

That’s our friend Steven. He helps us with pretty much every project we do. We used a Radio Flyer wagon and some 5 gallon buckets to bring everything up the alley to the backyard.

Organizing the bricks in the alley before the bricklaying begins.

Then, we spread out the sand and put the bricks in.

After that, it was pretty much done.

After we hooked up the speakers, of course.

32 responses to “Up in our backyard”

  1. Trixie Honeycups says:

    P.S. to Dave: Sorry about the bandwidth on this post.

  2. Beautiful. Yeah, it was a real dump before you fixed it up. But hey, your backyard was the place to store all the leftovers from all your other fixer-upers. As all those home-makeover shows would say, “Now it’s a gorgeous zen retreat fit to entertain.”

    Good thing the tree didn’t care what it’s surroundings were and kept right on growing.

  3. Trixie Honeycups says:

    kate: getting a jumpstart on commenting! thanks!
    the tree was actually rescued by farrell from a construction site and replanted into our yard during a rainstorm (after cutting a hole in the cement with a cement saw and an unsuspecting friend, don’t have photos, sorry…) but my point is that the tree has been through much worse!
    believe it or not.

  4. Trixie Honeycups says:

    and with the help of an unsuspecting friend, s/b

  5. Unsuspecting friends are useful as cutting tools. Lovely yard now! A much better area for your son (daughter?) to play in, though I kind of love that photo of him (her?) standing in the baby bouncer, in the middle of all the construction materials.

  6. lane says:

    Wow, with all that stucco it looks like a little piece of New Mexico.

    very cool!

  7. Scotty says:

    I love the story of Farrell rescuing the tree. That man of yours is such a sweet stud – it makes me want to wrestle or something.

    And William getting all worked up by the forklift…the sweetest boy ever!

  8. Gale says:

    It is so cool to see William growing up in the pictures — baby bouncer to bench sitter is a great measure of time.

  9. swells says:

    My favorite is the shot of William sweepling, calmly pantsless. Reminds me of his dad somehow, but I can’t quite put my finger on it . . . go ahead, Trix

  10. PB says:

    This post makes me crave wine and great conversation and manchego cheese. I love summer and I love that you guys have created a summer haven. Great photos!

  11. trixie says:

    i can’t swells, you made me have performance anxiety.

  12. swells says:

    that’s what he said

  13. Miller says:

    Coming from a family who maintains a pay-other-people-to-do-it-for-you mentality, it’s nice to see people doing it themselves, as they say. I also love how the neighborhood formed a community of workers for no other reason than to help you guys out. The final product is gorgeous.

    So besides your son and dog, who look to be actively partaking in the backyard relaxing, have the rest of you had a chance to hang out and enjoy summertime there yet?

  14. Well you gotta have somebody to take the pictures, right?

  15. brooke says:

    Damn, that’s a sweet backyard now. It was a total crap hole before, I won’t mince my words. Can’t wait to go hang out there and BBQ and watch you guys soak in the hot tub. Well, unless you’re naked. Then I’m leaving.

  16. jeremy says:

    sigh, i miss that backyard… btw, i was hoping for an update on what’s happening with, uhhh, “my room”… perhaps you should post again soon…

    (and, yeah, that’s one cute pantsless kid…)

  17. LP says:

    Trixie! So good to have you back. Like Swells, I love the photo of Farrell, William and the dog — an intergenerational, interspecies effort, bravo. Can’t really zip up to Philly like in the DC days, but I’m aiming to make it there before too long. ‘Specially now that there’s a hot tub, wooo!

  18. autumn says:

    from industrial to summertime retreat. fantastic. I love these kinds of process posts. the mix of stucco and brick for the high walls makes the space so calm, private and comfy. let the naked hot-tubing commence.

  19. Adriana says:

    Well that’s just a little piece of heaven! Nice to hear from Trixie again.

  20. swells/jeremy says:

    miller! (hey, when are you going to come by the office to pick up your t-shirt? (from trixie and farrell, of course))

  21. Miller says:

    swells/jeremy! i stopped by the office that you share about 10 times last semester, but it was always empty since i kept odd hours on campus. i work all summer from 12-5 mon-wed, so is there any time in there when i can catch either of you? i haven’t had a single student so far this summer and i’m bored as hell in here. (please send students to me. i’ll take extra-great care of them, i promise.) i’ve been dreaming of this shirt for so long (super thanks to trixie and farrell, btw).

  22. jeremy says:

    i’m teaching summer school MW at 12:45, swells at 1, so we’ll be around before then.

  23. farrell fawcett says:


    What I love about this post is that it made me remember how much of a transformation the back yard has actually gone through. Memory is such a feeble thing. Since it’s been a four summer process, I just start to forget what the backyard looked like the summer before the last one. Without those photos of that horrible bathroom “crap hole” (thanks brooke), I just forget that it was such an uninhabitable space. It feels quite satisfying to watch the evolution through those photos. Thanks for all your work trix.

    Also, yes, stucco. Lane, there’s nothing quite as efficient for covering up sprawling ugliness. The new mexico thing was NOT something we set out to reference. Alas, on the east coast, any stucco job tends to remind you of the southwest.

    Miller, i can’t take any credit. The shirt was all trixie’s kind doing.

    Jeremy, stay tuned, now that the photos have been retrieved and reorganized, I think a post about “your room” is sure to be coming in the next few months.

    Thanks everyone for the complements. It’s actually been really fun doing transformative projects like this.

  24. trixie says:


  25. Gale says:

    Don’t hold your breath, Miller! Not everyone gets T-Shirts, not even semi-regular contributors! (sad face)

  26. Jeremy says:

    you didn’t get a t-shirt, gale? um, didn’t you get one in NY? i believe one was left for you with the watermans…

  27. Gale says:

    One wasn’t. (sad face).

  28. MF says:

    I can’t wait for my invitation to a summer grilling party (wink).

    Congrats. It’s beautiful.

  29. lane says:

    yeah and the stucco with the green shingles above (very east coast row house) is a nice collision.

  30. Kate the Great says:

    I’m with you, Miller. I want one too. But as I’m not geographically near anyone who got access to the theoretical box o’ coolest shirts, I can only hope tat someday they’ll be for sale and that I can get one over the ‘net.

  31. Jeremy says:

    Gale, actually, yes–one was. BW just emailed me saying he has your T-shirt, forgot to give it to you…

  32. Gale says:

    Well that’s a nice surprise.