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Awesome DIY Backyard Deck Before and After

We purchased our first home in Denver, CO, and couldn’t wait to start working in the backyard. Our little brick bungalow was 1,300 square feet and we had big plans to add outdoor living space with a DIY backyard deck / covered porch.

The existing covered porch was falling apart and we did not enjoy hanging out there. We decided to tear off the old porch and add valuable living space with a brand-new deck and overhang. Most of the projects we tackled on our own, however, we did hire out the overhang since it tied into the existing roof. I am excited to take you through our first big DIY project as a married couple!

Table of Contents

Back Porch Punch List

  • Remove rotting wood & hornet infestation
  • Lift the roof line to brighten the space
  • Demo cracked concrete
  • Build a retaining wall to address drainage issues
  • Add deck & flagstone patio

Back Patio Before

This poor patio was falling apart with rotten wood that was infested with hornets.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

The side yard to the left of the deck was filled with weeds and grass.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

The most pressing issue in our backyard was the drainage. Unfortunately, the backyard sloped toward the house, and the overhang did not have proper downspouts, so we would get a pool of water after heavy rains.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

DIY Backyard Deck Project

1 | Demolition of the Existing Porch

The porch overhang came down easily, and our fabulous friends helped Chris break up the concrete and toss it in a dumpster. Chris rented a jackhammer to break down the concrete and we ordered the dumpster as well. On the side of the house, we added a picket fence to keep our dogs in the backyard.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

2 | Remove Dirt

We designed our DIY backyard deck so that you step directly onto the porch from the back door. To achieve this design, the ground had to be lower to account for the lower deck supports. Again, Chris rented a walk-behind digger to remove the dirt against the house.

3 | Build a Retaining Wall

After the dirt was removed to accommodate the height of the deck, we regraded the backyard and built a retaining wall. Chris built the retaining wall with railroad ties and it made a huge difference with the draining issue.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

We laid fresh sod in the backyard and it looked beautiful. There is nothing better than the look of fresh green grass!!

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

To improve the draining in our backyard further, we built a french drain next to the retaining wall. Below the DIY deck, we laid pea gravel to further help with water drainage.


4 | Porch Overhang Installation

One aspect of the original deck that we did like was that it was covered, but we wanted the ceiling to be higher. This required a new roof to be built and tied into the existing roof of our home. We hired professionals to complete this portion of the project. I chose a beadboard ceiling that they painted white and we also had a fan installed! These two features really made our back deck feel like an outdoor living room.

5 | Backyard Deck DIY

Once the roof overhang was installed, Chris built his first backyard deck and it turned out amazing!! I was skeptical when he first told me he wanted to DIY the deck (sorry Chris), but he totally crushed it.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

Chris built the frame of the deck around the overhang support beams and then we easily attached the decking boards. We installed the deck railings and the deck was ready for furniture!

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

This was a major project to tackle as our first DIY together, especially since I was pregnant and could not help as much as I wanted.


6 | Flagstone Patio Installation

Once the deck DIY wrapped up, it was time for the flagstone patio. First, we had to prep the ground before laying the flagstone.  We leveled the dirt, added screening material, and used a tamper to compact the ground.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

Next, we had flagstones delivered and started placing them on the patio like a puzzle. This was more challenging than I expected! Once the flagstone was down, we added more screening to fill in the cracks.  I was 4 months pregnant during this renovation and was only able to help so much with moving the heavy stones and equipment.  

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

Backyard Deck DIY After

The deadline for this DIY project was the end of July to be able to host our gender reveal party and we made it happen! I was SO happy to share all of our hard work with our friends and family. PLUS we were able to celebrate that we were expecting our first child, a baby boy!

I mean, how welcoming is that backyard deck…RIGHT?! We hung little pots over the railing for a mini herb garden and it was the perfect spot.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

For Mother’s Day, Chris sent me out for a spa day and surprised me by building a rose trellis next to the patio. This backyard was our little oasis and I am so proud of every project we tackled. We definitely poured a lot of love into this home.

Backyard deck DIY project to add outdoor living space | Building Bluebird

Check out how we added more living space to our second flip house by building a deck double this size!

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