The Backyard, a legendary spot in the rolling hills of Bee Cave, Texas, has an astounding 20+ year history etched across Austin’s music scene. Currently under construction, The Backyard’s new opening date is slated for 2024, and will truly be something to see. The venue will offer a wide range of experiences, including year-round entertainment through a mix of bars, restaurants, smaller live music venues, retail shops, public park, and the iconic 3,700-seat Live Oak Amphitheater.

As part of its mission to “affirm life itself by investing in culture, community and commerce,” The Backyard, in partnership with Texas Urban Sawmill, a local company that specializes in producing lumber and urban wood products by tree salvaging and re-purposing fallen and dead trees, is pursuing a Wood Innovations Grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. Launched in 2015, The Wood Innovations Grant Program works to stimulate and expand wood products and wood energy markets and helps address critical issues like climate change, forest management, damage caused by uncharacteristic wildfires, insects, disease, and invasive species, while also helping sustain local economies. Devin Ginther, Co-Founder and CEO of Texas Urban Sawmill, submitted a grant proposal aimed at establishing a scalable business case for tree reuse across Texas, titledFull Circle Urban Forestry & Urban Wood Utilization Circular Economic Pilot Study. Devin also volunteers his time on the national steering committee of the Urban Wood Network (501c3) and serves as the UWN – Texas Chapter lead.

What does this mean for The Backyard? The Backyard Tree Re-Use Project intends to harvest, mill, and cure all trees of a usable size and health that are already slated to be removed due to construction. The trees will then be reused for furniture, flooring, ceiling panels, decking, and/or other design elements specific to The Backyard. A first for RVi, this method is another means for us as landscape architects to incorporate leading edge sustainability practices into our projects. During a recent site visit, team members tagged the appropriate trees, a crucial first step in the process. Tree harvesting will continue in phases as construction permits allow.

The primary goal of this initiative is to raise awareness of the benefits of urban wood and urban forestry in Texas. This effort will not only help to increase public and private sector initiatives that embrace the benefits of adaptive tree re-use projects across Texas, but further contribute to advocacy efforts within the AEC industry.