Backyard model

I've been meaning to share this for some time, but the actual work on the wall and steps in the backyard have been occupying that time.

In the backyard, the boss wants (1) steps from the garage back door down to the backyard and (2) a flat backyard. It took a long time to design it (some early steps here, starting with measuring the level of the backyard) because I didn't really know how it was going to work. Somehow the steps needed to be integrated into a wall. Somehow the final level of the yard needed to be sorted out. Etc. So I had to teach myself how to use SketchUp, a solid modeling program, to figure it out.

Here's what I came up with. I don't know how to efficiently show the dimensions in the model, so:

  • West-east: outsides of outside piers are 30' 1" (9.14m) apart
  • North-south: steps from garage to end are 36' 4" (11.07m) long
  • Up-down: top of top step to top of bottom step is 7' (2.13m) high (and then each block is 6" tall with 6" of limestone base underneath it, so it's a great deal of Fun if you love Shoveling)
The yard itself, showing the west-east (left-right) slope and the north-south (top-bottom) slope, as well as the deck piers, garage door (upper left) and basement door (lower right).
Adding the wall and step models to the original terrain.
Replacing the original terrain with a flat yard. The wall area under the right side of the deck is a notional design for a shed—not going to look exactly like that, but it's a future project anyway, so we'll deal with it in the future.
Here is, more or less, what has been installed as of... now, except for the curve at the top right. The notch near the upper left corner is a pass-through for the underground electrical cable. I was planning to make this wall one more block deep, but the cable sort of set the max depth.
Comparing the model to a recent pic.
Comparing the model to a recent pic.

Which was harder? Modeling? Or building? Ambiguous. Eventually, while digging, you'll find bedrock and need to stop, but modeling can go on forever. (At least, that was the criticism I was getting.) However, moving blocks in a model was so much easier than in real life, although I appreciated the one week of Popeye forearms after moving 600 of those bastards, plus rocks, etc.

This all divides itself into four phases:

  1. Build the deck wall
  2. Build the steps (this is the boss's most important feature, but it has to sit on the wall)
  3. Build the wall around to the garage
  4. Build the under-deck shed
  5. And then later some of those other blocks sitting around in the yard will be used to build a retaining wall on the northeast corner of the house, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

If any of you want to learn how to use SketchUp, hit me up. I haven't done any solid modeling of my own since college (Unigraphics, which has been subsumed into some other company and software now), and I used to be able to open and explode (technical term) SolidWorks drawings of our flight control to put diagrams in specs and test reports when I was at Mason. Like most things in life, it's pretty easy to do once you know how to operate it, and then the difficulty is in knowing how to organize things.

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