Saturday, July 9, 2016

Week 5 of Summer

Before summer: the two bushes outside the back door were struggling to thrive. One had snapped during a late April snow.
Week one of summer, I bought a half 9 foot umbrella, my Dad hand sawed the two bushes (but left the stumps), and I hand cleared the mulch to reveal the weed block (also known as landscape tarp).
Week two: My colleague had promised to lend his teenage sons for $8/hr to do the patio but then the boys found summer jobs. He came over (he's a math teacher) and figured that I would need a two inch slope coming away from the house for water purposes, and we confirmed the dimensions. I then called 811 (power, gas, water, phone, cable, et al) to be cleared to dig for the leveling and for stump removal.

Week three: while waiting for 811 to clear me, my neighbor a few houses down had her general contractor look at my property (she was getting a quote for a patio, as she doesn't DIY), to see what it would cost for labor (I had found out while purchasing pavers that each weighed 39 pounds, and I needed to buy 30 pavers and 11 single bricks. Incredibly heavy!). They never got back to me, and at the end of the week, 811 cleared me for digging. I marked my lines, and ripped back the tarp.
Week four: Realizing that I was on my own, I borrowed a wheel barrow, shovels, and level from my Dad and started to excavate. I shoveled out of the ground, into the wheelbarrow, and out of the wheel barrow into the dumpster. 15 round trips.
Week five: I offered my guy neighbors money to chainsaw down the stumps, but they only had picks and sledgehammers (but didn't offer to help). After two days of my agonizing over these roots, my mother brought me a handsaw, and she held the stumps while I sawed them into bits. Any remains we couldn't get up, I salted with an Epsom salt paste. They will shrivel up in about 6 months, and I buried them well, so as to not disturb the patio.

The remains, below.
(In case you're wondering, that hose is part of the sprinkler system, and I buried it once finished with excavation.)

Hours leveling the ground, putting in edging, and then tacking down new weed block. Followed by lots of sand (no picture of the sand!).
Yesterday, my brother had the day off. After a guilt trip by my mother, and later a promise of a free lunch, he arrived to help. And he helped a lot! It would not have happened without him.
(Sand was left overnight on top, so as to fill in the seams.)

This morning I used a wide flat broom to sweep, and then set up two of my four chairs and umbrella. I found a table, but it is back ordered ( and expensive) for 7 weeks. I'll keep looking.
I'm going to fill the part on the sides (near door on right, around a/c unit on left) with gravel next week. Once that is in, I can finally remove all tools from my yard!  

The numbers: the patio is 8' L x 7.5' W, about $500 for the supplies, countless hours of labor. I probably did many things incorrectly, a couple of the pavers are already cracked, but I'm content with it. While most of the hours were my own labor, the few hours from my mother and brother made it complete and I would still be working on it if they hadn't helped! I'm not sure I'd do it again, but I look forward to enjoying it on a daily basis!

Hopefully this wasn't too boring of a post; I'll be back mid week with more of my meals and activities!


  1. Ah wow a lot of hard work has gone into it, it looks god already! You will have yo show us your expensive table when you get it!

    1. Thank you, Lana! I was reviewing my bank account, and I might need to wait. Ha ha! It's probably better to buy patio furniture at the end of the season anyway!

  2. Such hard work! You approached it all so analytically as well. I would have just dumped the pavers on the grass and be done with it -- course it would look awful but that's how I do things.

    Thanks for much for sharing this. You will enjoy sitting on that patio a million times more knowing you accomplished it all yourself (with Mom, Bro and Remy)

    1. It was a super frustrating process, but I'm so happy it is finished (I bought and placed the gravel on the edges today!). It's definitely not perfect, and some of the pavers move a little when stepped on but I'm not a professional - what can I expect! Ha!

      I'm glad it wasn't too boring of a post! Remy sits in a chair automatically, but we haven't enjoyed it much yet. It has been crazy hot lately!

  3. Hey nice job!! I would never have figured it out. Luckily there's not that much space to be had out here... but yeah, my folks have a back patio and I love going over there to eat outside. It's so nice! Hope you enjoy it.

    1. I wish I had known what to buy. I went back to Home Depot daily, sometimes twice in a day. So ridiculous! I look forward to using it year round when it is nice!

  4. Oh my goodness! That is so much hard work and it came out so well! I'm so incredibly impressed with your effort, your determination and the outcome! I know you will enjoy it so much, and it was nice of your bro to help out, even if a little bribery was needed ;)

    I'm with Lana, I would love to see the table when you get it! Enjoy your new space! :)

    1. It was so much work! Oddly enough, today I felt like I could do any other project because I had already completed the hardest one! I want to paint and repair (grout) and update my bathroom but I'm short on funds for the rest of the month, so it'll have to wait. *sigh*