Monday, July 09, 2012

A Pretty Paver Patio

Surprise!  I have a secret project I’ve been keeping on lock down for a big reveal at our Fourth of July party.  Now that our party has come and gone I can let you in on the secret! :)

We installed a new paver patio in the backyard between the garage and deck.  It’s something we’ve wanted to do since we moved in and saw the gravel path that served as a patio in the backyard.  Lucky for me my Mama bought out a paver company about fifteen years ago and she has had a plethora of pavers in various places in the yard.  Since she put in her new greenhouse, the pavers were no longer useful so she generously donated them to us for our project. 

To begin the project we mapped out two levels of pavers to compensate for the grade in the backyard.  The upper level would be a long and thin patio joining the driveway with the lower deck.  And the next level down would be the walkway between the steps leading into the yard and the steps leading to the upper deck.  Need a visual?


The levels are separated by 6x6’s.  Just like the steps:


Here’s the story from the beginning.  Here’s what our “patio” looked like in 2010 after we’d removed the fence at the end of the driveway.  It looked like a mess.  Our grass, however, looked like a million bucks.  Too bad I spent all my time worrying over the patio/mess instead of keeping the grass nice. :(


Here’s the view from up on the deck.  And endless swath of red (brown?) rock and a bunch of crooked 6x6’s.  Lovely. :)


And here’s a view taken during the fence building project last year.  Some of the red rock was eliminated and the area was made into a flower bed on the driveway side of the fence.  But the flow of water from the driveway/gutters continued to wash red gravel from the patio and steps into the yard. 


The “upper level” of the previous patio was falling into the flower bed because there was no substantial wall to hold it up.  Just a couple of boards standing on their sides.  And the whole patio was falling away with the slope of the ground.  The yard is also marked with low places and is no where near level, either, which just adds to the mess!


Enter Mama with 500-ish pavers, Papa and John with six new 6x6s, and 2 1/2 tons of pea gravel.  Add seven days of manual labor and you get a new patio!  Haha… it’s so easy to sum it all up. :)

After we’d laid out the general idea of levels, we realized we’d have to bust out the existing concrete landing outside of the garage side door so we could replace it with pavers.  Enter Michael with sledgehammer.  Busting concrete always looks easy on TV, but in real life it is HARD.  I don’t care what you say John, it’s not a piece of cake.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Michael.  He’ll back me up. :) 


It took him maybe fifteen minutes of busting/dragging pieces out of the way until he had reduced (increased?)the landing to this:


And all those massive pieces of concrete were left for me to haul away the next day.  Joy.  And in the end there was no more concrete landing.  There was, however, the small problem of the concrete driveway corner that had previously fallen away and was cracked.  It was adjacent to our busted-up concrete landing.  So in the process of busting the landing, we cracked the cracked corner some more.  So, we brought the sledgehammer man back to bust it up for us so we could re-pour the corner.


We built a little frame out of 1x6’s for the new concrete and mixed Quikrete in the wheelbarrow.  Then we poured it and floated it.  I got to help… my first time playing with concrete.  But definitely not the first time for the Guthries.  They are pros.



While we waited for the concrete to dry, we moved to the other side of the patio and tore out the step to the lower deck, since it too was being replaced with pavers.  Joy to the world!  Hallelujah!


We both had some fun taking out our aggression on this junky little step.  And in the end, we won.

After step removal, we pulled out the old 6x6s and digging/leveling their new homes. We built a new 12” mini retaining wall on the deck side and another on the side next to the steps to hold up our patio level.  We replaced all of the rotten 6x6s with brand new treated ones.  Hopefully the new ones will last longer than their predecessors. 

Mama was the bomb.  She pried up the old timbers and hammered the rebar out so we could move them.  Then we leveled the foundations and reinstalled them with rebar again.  The rebar goes through the timber and into the ground 18” so the timbers stay where you put them and don’t shift around.  You hammer it in like a giant nail into predrilled holes.  Getting it in is easy, getting it out of the old timbers was the hard part.  We got real friendly with the sledge and mini sledgehammers.  Good times!


Here’s the mini retaining wall by the deck which would hold up the new level of the patio.  See how much higher it is than before?  The AC unit had to be raised slightly so the pavers would clear it. We also leveled it while we were at it, since no one bothered to do that when it was installed.  Such crap!!!!


After much calculating/miscalculating/recalculating and general “winging it” we figured out a way for the walkway to be one level over to the steps that would then lead down into the yard at a more regular rise/run.  It’s not perfect, but neither are we.  :)  Here’s the new timber holding up the walkway level.  And since we totally goofed and cut the step without considering that it had to span the whole distance to meet the existing timber, there is a tiny patch piece in between that we had to brace with shims and screw all together to hold in place.  It’s classy.  Don’t look at it. :)


After all the cutting timbers, leveling, hammering rebar, and what not, we celebrated our awesomeness by jumping up and down.  Wait, that was just me.  We dismissed our handy timber-cutting men (Thanks John and Papa!) and moved on to the next step--filling in our levels with pea gravel so the pavers would have something nice and level to sit on.  Plus they would have excellent drainage.  The next day Mama came with 1 1/2 tons of pea gravel, which I proceeded to unload and spread out along our patio.  That was fun, let me tell you.  Don’t forget that all of this patio building was happening on the hottest weekend in history!  Yay!

We had shade until 12pm and we had two fans going to keep us cool.  After I unloaded the first load, it was looking like this:


And we realized that sadly, we needed more.  Boo.  So while the sun was on the backyard, we went to the gravel yard to get more pea gravel.  Another ton unloaded and we were good to go.  So we started pavering, paving, laying pavers.  :)  More fun in the sun!  I mean shade.  With fans.

Whoop.  Here’s what it looks like after you crawl around on your knees and level tiny spaces of pea gravel and put pavers on top. 


Don’t forget to check your level and beat the paver in with your rubber mallet.  More aggression-letting exercises. :)

Mama worked on the walkway since it was a tight fit and making me scream, while I pavered the upper level.  We used a border of gray squares since Mama had a bunch of those and not enough red “flowers” to fill the whole area.  Gray triangles filled the spaces between.  All those had to be special cut, as well as some of the red ones for the ends where it wasn’t a perfect fit.  So we rented this bad boy from Home Depot.  A wet paver saw.


It was AWE.SOME. Can you tell I am developing a crush on power tools?  Oh and I forget to mention I broke out my radial arm saw (Thanks Mike!) for this project and learned to operate it, too.  It’s also awesome. And heavy.  Anyway, Mama cut pavers while I put them in the missing holes and marked for all the special cuts.  We are a mighty team!  This was the last day of patio building.  We had our fan club neighbors next door cheering us on all weekend.  We were proud.


And here is what it looked like at the end of the last day.  At last!



A finished patio!



But we were not done… noooooo.  There was still the small matter of steps.  The steps had been progressing in the evenings after we had run out of supplies each day.  Mama moved all the steps and repositioned them.  Then she filled in behind the timber with gray pavers.  So much better than gravel washing into the yard.  And way more level, too.




She had to pry them up one by one and beat the rebar out so she could relevel them.  Bless you Mama. :)

In the end this is what we got:


Forgive the bottom step.  It was part of the retaining wall and therefore could not be moved and leveled.  That is a massive project for another year.  Another homeowner perhaps. :)

So after the planning and arguing over designs, seven days of sweat and near heat exhaustion, we finished this patio!! :)  Just in time for our 4th of July party.  And now that our hands have healed from the blisters and our knees have stopped creaking (sort of) we can stand back and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work.










This is not a good picture of it, but you can see that somehow our distance came out perfectly so that the border continued all around the end next to the deck and the red “flowers” fit perfectly with no cutting! :) Sweet serendipity!




And it wouldn’t be a Horvath’s Life without a before/after comparison.  Check it out:





Hope you enjoyed this massive photo and pride-filled post.  Come over and sit on the patio with me!



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