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How to: Building a Backyard Seating Area

For this couple's newly created horseshoe court, a proper seating area is in order.

For the backyard transformation for their first home, Kristen and Paul relied on Steve Watson and his team of experts for some help with exterior improvements. Now that they've created a new horseshoe pit, they wanted a viewing area with spectator seating and tables. Here's a list of tools and materials, and summary of the basic steps, in the installation of the seating and viewing area.

Before: Though the backyard had great potential, it seemed a little empty.

Materials and Tools:

1x6 pressure treated lumber, 8-foot lengths (6)
4x4 pressure treated lumber, 8-foot lengths (2)
2x4 pressure treated lumber, 8-foot lengths (16)
5/4x6 pressure treated lumber, 8-foot lengths (17)
air compressor with hoses
brad gun
framing nailer
power miter box
table saw

Figure A


Build the Side Tables.

The seating area portion of the project includes two small side tables set in the ground near each pitching lane for the horseshoe court. These are small circular tabletops set on top of 4x4 posts.

1. Set the 4x4 post in the ground about 18 inches deep, then cut off at 40 inches above ground level.

Figure B

2. You can build and cut circular tabletop out of pressure-treated planks. Nail these together over a couple of 2x4's and attach to the post. Depending on how big you want your tabletop, cut 1x6 planks to the desired lengths, then edge-glue them and clamp them securely to form a square.

Figure C

3. Nail the assembly to two 2x4's to act as supports.

4. Once the glue has dried, measure out a circle on the flat surface and cut out the circle using a hand-held router. We cut out the circle in three passes, cutting a little deeper with each pass. In this way, there's less chance of damaging the router.

Figure D

Build the Seating

Important: For safety, the seating area was set back about seven feet from the edge of the horseshoe court. Seating consisted of two bench seats mounted on posts set securely into the ground.

1. Along one side of the pit, use a post-hole digger to bury six 4x4's eighteen inches deep into the ground, aligned in a straight line. In the post holes, fill in around the posts using marble chips to about six inches below ground level. Fill the remaining portion of the hole with dirt to ground level, and tamp the dirt down well.

Figure E

4. Use 1x6 decking, spanning all the way across the frame, to form the seat surface. Use a finishing nailer to secure the decking boards to the frame.

5. Once the bench is assembled, run a router with a round-over bit along the edges to smooth things up.

Safety Alert: When cutting pressure-treated wood, always be certain to wear a dust mask to keep from breathing in the pressure-treated wood dust.

Figure F

Build the Scoreboard

1. Build a flat board out of A/C exterior plywood. Make it about 24 inches wide and 36 inches tall.

2. Paint it with chalkboard paint.

3. Mount mount the board to a post that's well secured into the ground.

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