Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Ryan likes to say that our yard project experienced "scope creep" as it evolved. It's a term he borrowed from the business world, but it made me laugh the first time I heard it because it's so spot on regarding how our original idea of putting in a lawn turned into a full yard renovation spectacular!

What really got us to this point was the while-we're-at-it notion. We'd sit down with a beer at the end of a day of work and talk about the project, and it slowly grew and grew.

It sounded kind of like this:

"Wouldn't it be great if we were able to get rid of all this mismatched rock and put in a patio while-we're-at-it?"

Or this:

"Hey, while-we're-at-it, maybe we should add some planting beds."

And the subject of this post (and surprisingly ML original idea):

"We're going to need to put the barbecue somewhere, and wouldn't it be awesome to have one of those cool outdoor kitchen islands? Now's really the time to do it, you know while-we're-at-it."

Ryan jumped at the idea to have a killer bbq space and before we knew it, our scope was as creepy as an episode of The Following.  

Here is one of my inspiration photos as I searched the web for something that would work well for us:

Source unknown. Via Pinterest.

We decided on an L shaped island with the following items, while-we're-at-it:
• A nice big grill
• Counter space for food prep
• Gas side burners for preparing non-grill dishes
• A sink with running water
• Space for seating

After a little more discussion, we decided we had the perfect place to put it; along the fence directly across from the deck.

We like that the space is close to the house and has a direct visual line from the family room and deck, but is far enough away that it won't smoke out guests. It will also tie in nicely with the patio once it's complete.

That meant that before we could even think about laying stone for the patio, we had to get all the lines run to this future barbecue site. So while the trenching was being done and irrigation line was being set we also placed a number of lines from the corner of the deck to the fence where the island will go.

If it looks like there's a lot of junk in that trench, that's because there is.

We wanted to make sure to cover all our bases, so we included the following:

Gas pipe for the barbecue
Ryan's cousin is a plumber, and we enlisted his advice on needed supplies to plumb for natural gas. We bought 3/4" green coated gas pipe cut to size and threaded at Home Depot, made sure to use plenty of yellow gas line tape as we secured the joints with fittings, and covered every surface that wasn't already coated (like the joints) with black 20 mil plumbers tape. We capped one end and pressure tested to make sure everything was secure before burying it.

PVC for running water
We used the same stuff to run water for a sink that we did for irrigation; 3/4" white PVC. We also ran a 2" ABS pipe that leads away from the island and ties in with our french drains for sink runoff when wash our hands or prep veggies (what goes in must go out). Note, this is NOT to local construction code, but we think it will be good enough for us considering the cost and complication of the ulterior.

Romex for electricity, coaxial cable and speaker wire
There is no immediate need for electricity in our island set up, but we decided we would be bummed in the long run if we didn't have it. So while-we're-at-it, we added direct bury outdoor romex for electricity. We also buried cable and speaker wire in conduit so we'd be able to put a TV out there if we want it for the next Superbowl or Playoff party.

Here's are all the lines coming out of the ground at the future barbecue site along the fence. We don't know exactly how we're going to hook all these bad boys up, but we'll figure it out as we go.

Wish us luck putting the rest of the island together. If we still have any money left. And we haven't killed each other by then.


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  3. Would it be alright if I used your last 3 pictures from this post in my own? It's about overlap between data roads infrastructure construction and the home DIY movement. I argue that home mesh network builds around the house and out to neighbors are an equity investment in the future, kind of like this conduit trench out to your future bbq island is. It will be at

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