Patio!

For those readers who don’t normally follow the blog I keep jointly with my wife Melanie, we’ve just completed a large patio project. If you’ve got a few minutes, swing over to Melanie & Reuben to check out our patio project.

Patio: Done

Whew! Our patio project is finally finished! Here’s some photos! Here’s Mel, just chillaxin’ after a long day of work.
And here she is admiring all of our hard work! Notice the huge pile of dirt is gone. We pretty much just moved it to a different part of the yard….
Here’s a good shot of the walkway to the garage.

A lot of the pieces required cutting to the right size. Some of the cuts were a little tricky, especially around the corners.

And another for good measure.

Here’s a closeup of the bricks. The whiteness is a result of them getting wet while stacked on top of each other. It should fade over time. Sweeping all the sand into the joints was a lot trickier than we thought it would be.

Here’s a good one of the patio area. Notice that the Fiesta has been moved back to it’s proper place, though I have mixed feelings as I report that it’s useful life is nearing it’s end and it may soon be time to upgrade to a new grill.

The next step will be to spread tons of grass seed and hope something grows.

Big thanks to b+k who provided at least 35 person-hours to the project. Go here to watch a sweet video Katie made about the project. We’re so proud of it. We think it turned out really well.

Patio: Almost Done

All of our hard work is begging to pay off, and it’s finally starting to look like a real patio and walkway. All of the pavers are finally in place (thanks to a lot of help from our good friends b+k). We’re so proud of ourselves and can’t wait to finish the job (notice there’s still a giant pile of dirt in our yard).

Patio: Week 3

Mel and I really wanted to make a lot of progress on our patio project this weekend, so we set the alarm to get an early start. Progress would have been slow, but luckily, we received a lot of help from our friends b+k, who helped us work on the project for nearly 12 hours today. We were able to accomplish so much more with their help than we would have without them.

The pavers are in place along the walkway between the house and the garage. Of course, we waited until after dark to take the photos, so please forgive the bad photography. Some of the stones appear very dark in color in this photo because they are wet, having just been cut to size.

When we started this project, Mel and I agreed that safety was important, so we make sure to wear bright colors. here’s a photo of us in our “safety shirts” next to our new pathway.

Patio: Construction Begins Tomorrow

With favorable weather conditions ahead of us, we’re ready to actually start building our patio. So far, all we’ve done is dig a large hole in our yard. We’ve been hampered by bad weather (and sloth), but now we’re energized and ready to get this project done. We spent last night at Menard’s and they’re delivering all of our materials Saturday morning sometime. We’re going to spend Friday evening getting ready. We’ll need to clean up the garage so that we have someplace safe to put all the material when it is delivered. We’ll also spend Friday evening and Saturday morning compacting the subgrade and making sure our trench is exactly 8.5 inches below our desired finish elevation.

If I haven’t mentioned it earlier, neither of us have ever done this before. We don’t really know what we’re doing. We’re learning through experience.

We don’t expect to finish it this weekend, but we are hoping to make some serious progress. Wish us luck. It’s going to be a long weekend.

Patio: Excavation Complete

We’ve finally finished the excavation phase of the patio project. Progress has been slow because I got sick and it rains every weekend. But this evening we finally removed the last shovelful of dirt. Here’s the pathway back to the garage:
The best part of the excavation phase is all the TREASURE we’ve found!!! While digging, we have come across two metal stakes, three poker chips, one white thing, one green marble, three pennies, two buttons, one curious bottle-cap, that teardrop-shaped green thing, and two spoons. In addition we found an entire floor vent (I don’t know how we didn’t get that in the photo).

Patio: Day…uhh…i forget.

So the rain finally stopped early this morning, so we were able to start working around 12:00 noon and continue digging for around 5.5 more hours. Most of that time was spent trying to finish excavating the patio area. It’s so close to some really large trees, though, so digging through (and cutting through) the roots was frustrating. Here’s some pics of our progress. We think we’re about 50% through the excavation phase. Here’s me standing next to the very large pile of dirt we’re creating. We have no idea what we’re going to do with it when we’re through. I was hoping we would be able to redistribute the dirt throughout the yard… but this is way more than I was expecting, so I really don’t have a clue what we’ll do with the dirt, yet.
We finished excavating the patio area and part of the walkway that will wrap around to the side of the house. While we were digging out the walkway, Melanie discovered the remains of an old stone walkway about 2-3 inches below the surface, so she spent a lot of time unearthing heavy blocks of granite (i think). The old walkway was pretty cool, and we thought about trying to reuse it, but it would have been pretty hard, so now we’re trying to figure out what to do with these granite blocks. We’ve got some ideas brewing….

We had one casualty today, though. My shovel was unable to keep up with my advanced digging techniques.

And here’s one more of me just standing around watching Mel take pictures.

Patio: Day Two

Mel and I had the missionaries over for dinner tonight, so we got a late start digging. We also think we’re digging a little too deep in some places (it’s hard to tell how far down you’ve dug after you’ve removed the original ground elevation to compare it with). We’ve almost got most of the patio area excavated, but haven’t started on any of the walkways, yet. We think we’re about 20% through the excavation phase at this point. There’s talk of rain on thursday, which would be bad news (our dirt pile would wash back into our pit). Again, we worked until dark – then took photos – so they’re dark.

Here’s the mound of dirt we’ve moved so far.

Patio: Day One

After Mel and I both shoveled for 2.5 hours, we are beginning to see just how long this project is really going to take. Digging is hard because there are soooo many roots. We’re considering renting a roto-tiller or something that would just rip through all the roots for us. We worked until we couldn’t see any more, then took some photos – so the photo is dark. We estimate we’re about 10% through the “excavation” phase. Luckily, we were able to locate the live electric cables that string underground between the house and the garage without slicing through one and electrocuting ourselves. We aren’t sure what to do about buried cables in the middle of our project… we’ll probably just bury them deeper than they were before and pretend they aren’t there.

New Patio: Before

So many of you have heard that Mel and I are beginning a new home improvement project. We’re going to construct a brick patio and walkway in our backyard. It’s going to be a very big and long project. We hope to have it done by the end of May. The first step is to excavate 9″ of dirt everywhere we want to lay pavers. This is going to be the most physically demanding part of the job (though not the most difficult). We started digging today, and after a few minutes realized we hadn’t taken any “before” pictures. So here are some pictures of what our backyard looked like a few minutes after the project officially began.

In this first pic, you can see a sort of curvy gravel pathway that currently exists in the backyard. This pathway is going to disappear and be replaced with pavers.
This second picture is an action shot of me moving my foot fast like a ninja.
In this last picture, the curvy gravel pathway is visible, along with the dismantled concrete table that used to be in the middle of our yard. Big thanks to our Pie of the Month Club friends who helped us dismantle and move it. Also visible on the far right is The Fiesta – my grilling machine.

Mel and I will keep you updated on how our project is coming. Don’t get too excited, though. It’s going to be a long process.