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Luke’s “Dos Gringos” Backyard Cantina

Luke wrote to us about turning his backyard into a “Dos Gringos” themed cantina – and we love the idea! Dos Gringos is a local haunt for Phoenicians and has just the right amount of rustic flair (and the tequila doesn’t hurt!).

Here is what Luke’s backyard currently looks like. So much potential!

A good place to start is the actual structure that should be built to create your grilling/hangout area. A large pergola to define the space and provide some shade in our hot summers is the way to go. You can check out a great resource on DIY pergolas here. We would first suggest measuring your space to see how much room you have, keeping in mind that most city building departments require structures over 3 feet tall to be 5-10 feet away from your property line and 10 feet away from a pool.

We also love the idea of creating a sunken/stepped down patio. The purpose of this is two fold. First it helps further define the space, especially if you want the area larger than the pergola structure itself (which should be at least 12×12). Secondly, it allows you to keep a high ceiling in the area. Due to the fact that most HOAs have 10′ height restrictions on separate  structures on your property, many backyard patio structures end up looking either too small or feel cramped underneath. By both bringing the floor down and building the roof as a pergola instead of a pitched tile roof (which would take away a lot of your available height limit) you should be able to have a structure that “feels” much higher.

Along with this sunken area under the pergola and possibly an extended area for additional seating or a firepit, we always like to see the use of staggering heights built with pavers or stuccoed block throughout landscaping.

To tie in the real Dos Gringos cantina feel we would also suggest the purchase and install of a couple large trees close to the structure and possibly somewhere else in the yard that you could add Christmas lights to.

Another neat idea we had to tie in the cantina theme and possibly the area into the house would be to add an additional small gable above your back patio door out of galvanized steel siding. This would really give your back yard some of that cantina feel but not too much as the large pergola would still be wood. We recommend at lease 4x8s for that. This will help tie into the new structure with the use of more Christmas or string lights. A nice lit area between your back door and the new area would really help direct the flow of people to go check it out.

Other things to note, be sure to check with your city’s building codes to see setback requirements and make sure drainage in the sunken areas are planned for. Also, PLEASE don’t make the area too far away from the house. Too many times you see people build nice covered areas, fireplaces or other structures for recreation in their
backyard that are just too far away from the house and not inviting. They never get clean or used and you are left staring out your window just wishing you had spent the money on something else. Build whatever you do well, make it inviting and make it close so people actually use it.

Good luck and please keep us posted on your project!

Brandon & Summer

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