April 29, 2013

Patio Part 5: Compacting Base Rock, Leveling Sand and Placing Pavers

It finally started to get fun! Or at least started to look like a patio. Over the past week, we rented our trusty friend the plate compactor (for the 3rd time! could have almost bought one by now!) and compacted/leveled out the 3 inches of base rock. That went a lot faster/easier than compacting the soil below it. No idea why, less dust to fly around? (Shout out to Brian here, thanks Brian!)

Then we dumped in the 1 inch of sand that is the base for the pavers. Using two 1" pipes nestled into the sand (accounting for 2% drainage slope) we used "screed guides" to level the sand (I've always wanted to screed!) After that task, it was time to get those pavers down and those stick arms beefed up! As you can see below, Mattie enjoyed the beach-like atmosphere, and was no help at all.

Of all the patterns available, of course we had to pick the most complicated one. Having never done this before, we wanted to keep things challenging. Well, not really - it just seemed like the best pattern that would allow for a natural, non-O.C.D. sort of look when complete. I stared at the schematic of the pattern on the website for awhile. Didn't get it. Squinted at it.. cursed at it. Then finally gave up trying and did something else for awhile.

That must have been the key, because I came back to it with a sort of magic-eye approach about 30 minutes later and somehow the rows made sense. We managed to get the pavers down almost 100% correctly. I see a mistake we made in the pattern, but since the the arrangement is pretty balanced, we're going to live with it. Also, I was getting to the point where I couldn't stand up any more. Placing the pavers was awesome and satisfying! (but crampy, muscle-soreness inducing work).

Next steps are: more compaction, sand in the cracks, rinsing, and toasting to completion! (and oh - cleaning up the construction site that is now our backyard..)

Also: Anyone who completes this project in a 2-day weekend (as the D.I.Y. youtube videos state) either: 1) owns a sod cutter and plate compactor and really knows what they're doing, or 2) is on meth.

April 22, 2013

Patio Part 4: Shoveling Rock, Cutting the Border, and More Shoveling Rock

We made pretty good progress over the weekend. First, we got the dirt level back up to where it needed to be (between 5" and 6"). Then we got tough again with Serious Power Equipment to compress the dirt to "95% compaction" (or around 95%, I honestly have no idea how you know for sure).

We also laid down the permeable landscape tarp. I usually hate this stuff, but I'll be damned if we'll have weeds coming up from underneath the patio. I'm sure we'll get something growing in the cracks, but hopefully, only small weedlets that have taken root from above, rather than evil growing things from below. But of course, only time will tell. This is Humboldt, and part of why I like it is how easily things grow.

Then, we measured out the frame (4x6 pressure-treated wood), set the rebar to anchor it, and then began to fill it to 3". We got to have MORE FUN with fancy landscaping toys, when we realized we were short about a cubic yard of crushed rock and had to pick up more. The upside was we got to use this fun toy:

Here's what it's looking like now in the evening light:

Next steps are: compaction of the gravel, putting down more tarp on the pathway section by the shed and framing it out, adding 1" of sand, leveling it off (that's what those pipes are for), and then the real magic gets to happen: laying down the pavers!

April 16, 2013

Patio Part 3: Paver Delivery

A gauntlet of landscaping piles

They never show in the DIY videos or HGTV where to put your piles of variousness. We're taking a few days off to work our day jobs, but plan to get back at it this weekend! We can't use the excuse that we're still waiting on materials, because it's all here!

April 14, 2013

Patio Part 2: Shoveling and Hauling Board & Rebar

Today was more of the same (digging and shoveling!), but making good progress. We've excavated the area down to 6"(a little more than that in some places). Once you start digging, it's hard to stop precisely at the 6" point. We've leveled that area off, and in our next installment of work, we will grade it more carefully in preparation for the permeable weed tarp, pressure-treated wood border, and begin adding the 3" of base rock.

Oddly, the most time-consuming (or so it seemed) element was the trip to Piersons to pick up the pressure treated wood we ordered and paid for yesterday. They said it would be ready at 9:30 a.m., but when we went in they didn't know what we were talking about. Alas, we were still able to get the materials, it just took over an hour to gather, cut, and load up the 17' pressure-treated boards. We also learned that rebar is crazy expensive - who knew? And guess who forgot her gloves on the trip to the back lot of Piersons!? DOH!! Such an amateur! Oh well, it's just chemical-infused wood splinters and a little tetanus.

Tying down the boards and driving home was a little (ok, a LOT) dicey, but we're no cowards. We picked a route with the least amount of hills so the boards didn't slip off the rack (which seemed entirely possible). We made it (2nd gear the whole way), but it was exciting whenever we hit a pothole, had a car behind us, or saw a pedestrian fleeing our path.

Check out this amazing dirt pile. Some of this is going to fill in areas where we overshot with the excavation, and some will get mixed in with some manure for the raised beds. I think we'll still have some leftover. Anyone need some topsoil?

April 13, 2013

Patio Part 1: Sod Removal

I'm (almost) live blogging the patio installation! Well, not exactly live (since I'm not one of those people who can blog on my smartphone and dig a hole a the same time), but darn close.

We're putting in a permeable patio in the backyard in one of the sunnier spots. Currently, it's a nice little area, but it's lumpy grass. So it requires all mowing, all the time. And even when it's perfectly cropped, there are high and low spots (real ankle-turners!). So we're putting in a paver patio over the next few weeks. The steps so far are looking like: pulling out the sod, putting down landscape tarp, 3 inches of base rock, 1 inch of level sand, then pavers, then sand to fill the cracks.

Yesterday was a big work day: we rented a sod cutter to remove the grass, getting started digging the 6" deep x 11' x 17' hole, and taking delivery on 2 cubic yards of base rock. We got a couple inches down, but still have more digging to do.

Per the usual, it's quite the archaeological dig. We've found some weird stuff in the ground: hangers, BBQ parts, dog bones (I hope!) and big pieces of concrete - lots of them, which we're collecting in a very heavy pile. I was thinking of creating a raised bed using the concrete pieces as a border, once the patio project is done.