Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trees and Pavers

When we bought this house we knew that a large portion of our summer was going to be spent making the yard look the way we wanted it to.  We came up with a grand master plan of where everything would be and what the finished product would look like.  We then looked at what we could reasonably spend on the project THIS YEAR and came up with a plan for what we needed to do now and what could wait until later.  The first things on our list were trees and a patio.  The trees, according to the nursery we used, could, and should, go in before the sprinklers so we could plan around them.  The patio, as we had planned it, was going to be large, so it definitely needed to be the first big project.

So here are the results so far...

Trees:
We got 3 flowering pear trees from Costco and added those to the mow strip out front.  They are struggling a bit...  but they were cheap, so we're hoping they won't die.
This is a Shademaster Honeylocust.  It's in the southwest corner of the yard.  These things are supposed to grow 4-5' a year, and they get up to 40' wide.  We're hoping that it will be a great shade tree pretty quickly for us.
And finally, this Autumn Blaze Maple, the largest of the trees, is on the north side of the house.  It grows less quickly, only about 2' a year, so we got one that was already fairly large.  Thankfully, the nursery that planted the last two warranties them for 5 years, so we have high hopes that they will thrive.  In the foreground you can see the piles of gravel that were the beginnings of the patio materials...
On to the patio!  First, we had to dig out the area...  we had to go down about 5 inches from where the dirt started, so there was a lot of tilling and raking/shoveling the dirt out.  It was a large area because we really wanted to add outdoor living space, and there is still PLENTY of room for grass.
The black pipe that we buried in the middle is a conduit for sprinkler pipes for later.  We wanted to be sure we didn't have to go around the patio when the time came to put the sprinklers in.

Once the dirt was removed, the next step was to add gravel.  It had to go in 1" at a time, be sprayed with water, and then tamped down to solidify the base.  That tool standing in the middle is a heavy metal plate on a stick.  Lifting and dropping the plate onto the rock compacted the rock into itself.  The rock base has to be at least 4" deep, so this is a long and tedious process.
The next step was to plan the pattern for how we wanted to lay the pavers.  I hate to even tell you the number of hours we spent calculating this.  The hope was to arrange the pavers in such a way that there were no straight lines through any section and also that we didn't have to cut any pavers.  We didn't want to spend the $ to rent the wet saw to make the cuts...  Obviously, the first planning session was done with Legos...

And when we didn't have enough Legos...  Ben mapped the whole thing out in Excel. (nerdy, yes, but it saved us SO much time) At which point we printed the whole thing out and hung it on the inside of the patio door so that we could follow along as we went.
On our first day laying the pavers we did the smallest section...
Nolan wanted to help chisel the corners off to fit under the patio door.
Each section needs an inch or more of sand laid on top of the rock for the pavers to rest on. The lines you see in the sand are from the pipe you lay to level across the top of. 
And then it's just a question of adding the pavers, one at a time...
Once all of the pavers have been laid, you have to put a plastic border around the edges and sweep a second type of sand over the top of the pavers.  This sand settles in to all of the cracks and acts as a kind of mortar.  after each pass with the sand you have to take the tamper and go over the whole thing to help the sand settle into the cracks.  We did three passes with the tamper last night...  but I'm sure there will be more in our future as things settle.
And this is the finished patio! In general, we decided that erring on the side of too big is probably better than too small.  We'll have room for a grill, a table and chairs & a fire pit without being cramped.  The way our house faces means great evening shade, so we're hoping to use this space a LOT.
And a better detail shot...  There's still some sweeping to be done, but we are THRILLED with how it came out.

One project down, 83 more to go! 

13 comments:

Stefanie said...

Looks awesome! I still can't believe you did that yourselves...I give you total kudos!! :)

Melissa Leilani said...

I'm so impressed, Mel. This is fantastic. You should have told me I was messing with your LEGO plans—I thought Nolan was going through a Cubist period.

Megan said...

Wow! That looks fabulous - and the hard work and effort is obvious. And now you get to enjoy it all summer.

Mrs. Webster said...

Holy cow! So much work! And we're having a hard time figuring out to do with our already landscaped yard? This is impressive! And kudos for getting on the yard first thing! Whenever Jer talks about it, I say, "can we finish the house first?" but you'll be SO glad when you can let the kids run outside.

Tamera said...

You should have asked me for a wet saw. My dad has all that stuff since he has laid all his marble and such himself.

Amelia said...

Amazing! I can't believe you did all that work yourselves, that you even know what to do, and that you made it look all nice and professional like!!! Can't wait to see more progress! Going to be an amazing yard.

Jess said...

SO exciting!! Hooray!! Doesn't it feel GOOD?! :) We did cement/grass last year, the play area this year, and hopefully our paver patio & built in firebowl next year. I'll have Nolan work out a lego plan for us!

Kalli said...

It looks amazeballs!

Natalie said...

Wow, you guys have been busy! It looks great!

Tiffany said...

Great Job! You are hired! Looks very professional :)

mel said...

You have more patience than I. I would have given up at the digging out the dirt stage. But WOW! And now you can spread out and relax on a gorgeous patio!

Emily S. said...

Hi, Holland! Nice to see you checking out the finished patio! :) Mel, Ben, it looks AMAZING. Wowowow!

Vanessa Goertzen said...

YES!!!! I love it!