Backyard Renovation: deck demo and what I did

In previous posts I’ve confessed my tendency to be somewhat accident prone. Remember that time I tried to power-wash our pool deck? Well, it’s time to add another notch on my beat-myself-up belt.

The back yard is split into two sections, part is covered by the pool cage and the other section open-air. The open air section is mostly actual yard: dirt, bushes, trees, weeds, etc. However, there was a 10′ x 18′ (approximately) wooden deck against the house. The deck was built around/to support a hot tub, had two steps down to the yard and included lattice-walls around the north end and a portion of the west side. The following photos were taken prior to our moving into the home.

Back Deck from yard pre-move in


Back Deck pre-move in

Note: against the wall of the house, in the center of the deck, it looks like there’s a lovely raised bed of plants. Wrong. At the center of that greenery is actually a massive tree stump. The deck was built AROUND the tree stump, and then a few fancy plants were tossed in to make it look more attractive. The deck was built at the same time as the house. In 1979. Although the photos don’t show how decrepit it was, the planks were peeling and warping. In some sections, rotting.

About that hot tub…

It was disgusting. Not only was it generally unclean, over the years rust had built up in, and coated, the pipes. We initially tried to clean it. Some of the jets ended up needing to be replaced. We did that. Then we realized that the heater had to be repaired. Tall Guy did that. Jet pump wasn’t working. Tall Guy fixed that. Just as everything was functional and we were plotting the master clean-up, the shell of the tub cracked. In two places. Of course. We have NEVER used the hot tub, but its potential prevented us from doing anything with the deck.

We have grand plans for our backyard renovation. Tall Guy has been talking, for months, about having a few friends over and tearing out the deck. On Saturday of this past weekend we returned from lunch and he announced that he’d be starting in on the deck. Alone. I had no intention of being part of the demolition. Partly because I had concerns about what sort of reptilian and rodential critters might be colonized below the deck. Tall Guy agreeably said that I could simply sit in the shade and provide moral support.

Out came two crowbars – one small, one large – and two sledgehammers – one regular sized and one smaller version. I put a chair in the shade, as planned, took a few “before” photos and began a text conversation.

Back Deck Before

Shortly thereafter, Tall Guy asked me to help haul removed planks into the Bagster we’d placed in the front driveway. Shortly after that I ended up with the crowbar and small sledgehammer, pulling up planks.

Are you beginning to cringe, yet? Thinking to yourself, “No! You are NOT allowed to use things like SLEDGEHAMMERS! Even if they’re small!”

I actually worked pretty quickly, coming up with a solid technique. While we didn’t begin when the sun was directly overhead, it was still tough labor in 85+ degrees. Twice we almost quit and then pushed through. We finally agreed we would remove everything from the stump to the left. During that very last surge of work, it happened. I swung the sledgehammer with my right hand… directly onto my left wrist. (Despite my mother’s skepticism, yes, that is completely possible)

Thank heaven I was so exhausted, because the swing was fairly weak. No bones were broken. Since nothing was broken, we kept going until to our pre-determined stopping point.

Back Deck After (Day 1)

Despite the throbbing on my left wrist, we cleaned up our tools, refilled waters and changed into swimsuits. THEN I grabbed an ice pack. While we cooled off in the pool, I kept ice on a lump the diameter of a tennis ball. The pain – a solid, dull ache with occasional shooting, sharp pains, lasted until I fell asleep that night.

On Sunday we finished removing all traces of the deck. Every remaining plank, stringer and support base. Fun fact: the support bases were sections from an old telephone pole, each buried at least three feet deep into the ground. Pulling those out of the ground totally wasn’t hard at all.

By Sunday evening the inevitable bruises had begun to appear on me. So far I’ve got two on my right inner calf, one on my right outer thigh, one on my left outer calf and one on my left outer thigh. The sledgehammer bump has reduced greatly, but is still very tender. In an interesting twist – no bruise coming in there at all.


No power tools and, now, no sledgehammers. Just not allowed.


  • Kasey
    June 1, 2015

    goodness gracious girl! BUT HOW AWESOME does your backyard progress look?! also hot tubs are such a pain in the booty.

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      June 2, 2015

      Thanks for finding the silver lining! Yes, the progress looks good. The actual yard? Not so much. As for hot tubs, I’ve never been a huge fan. They make me dizzy. Which may have more to do with my circulation than hot tubs.

      • Kasey
        June 4, 2015

        I have to not think about how gross hot tubs are, because they’re supa gross — it’s like you’re optionally cooking yourself. but at the same time, I do love the bubbles… CONUNDRUM!

        • Jeans and a Tank Top
          June 4, 2015

          “Ozzie, if you say the bubbles tickle your nose, I’ll drown you!” Aaand I’m a dork.

  • Alana Livingston
    June 1, 2015

    How in the world did you NOT break your wrist after hitting it with a sledgehammer?! You must have some strong bones! Can’t wait to see what the end result looks like!

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      June 2, 2015

      Alana, I do NOT know. A bruise has started coming in. It’s like a slightly yellow-gray shadow that curves across the inside of my wrist and goes around to the back. Maybe I had a lot of milk as a kid? And I ALSO can’t wait to see what the end result looks like, since we haven’t exactly agreed on that, yet.

Let me know your thoughts on this

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