Monday, July 25, 2011

Landscaping is Hard (part 1)

Patio done sans sealing, patio furniture ready to party on.  Now I just need to make my yard beautiful!

I have more dirt to spread around and got some grass seed and a grass seed blanket thing, but I also needed to add some bushes and flowers.  It's always been bare in my backyard, especially since I took down the lilac bushes this spring.  I had three before that were where my patio now sits, but this spring was the first time they'd ever bloomed. Oh well, the had their chance to impress me and lost the battle.

I had a couple goals for landscaping.  First, I wanted to find something that could cast a bit of shade onto the patio.  I get about 8 hours of direct sunlight onto the patio in the summer, so it gets awfully warm back there.  Second, I wanted some year round color.

I'm accomplishing these goals in two ways - first by picking out an arborvitae that will grow between 7-10 ft tall.  Not only will it throw some shade, it will also give me green year round.  Next, I picked some other shrubs that flower and bloom at different parts of the spring and summer - a Miss Kim lilac and a couple Rapid Fire hydrangeas.  Then I picked some cat mint, creeping babies breath, salvia, black eyed susans, and coneflower for the pretty.

Here's the plan:

And here are the goods. 

Now its time to get down and dirty....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Patio Furniture is Easy

All I had to do was go to the store, find a set I liked, and swipe my card. 

And then get my dads truck and use my uncles trailer one last time before returning it.  Then assembling a table, four chairs, and an umbrella.  But after the first chair, assemblage was a breeze!  I used some new handy tools I got last year (a thing that turns nuts super easy....I'm bad at this!). 

A little sweat later, my patio set was ready to go!

And now ready for the first (but certainly not the last) libation...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blood, Sweat, and Beer

I did it! I finished the patio (sort of).  Let's recap.

In our last installment, you saw the bobcat go to work digging out the area for the patio and my awesome spray paint job outlining the area.  Now the real work had to start.

1. Laying the Class 5.  I had all the materials delivered gratis from Patio Town (since I spent so much money).  I had my Class 5 gravel in a big pile on my driveway, just waiting to be spread. I called in my dad and then reinforcements of my nephews Dustin and Dalton.  It was ALOT of gravel.  The photo below shows about 1/4 of what was left from the original pile.

Hauling and spreading gravel is serious labor. Plus it was pretty hot.  But, with help from my nephews and dad, we got it done in....4 hours? Something like that.  We also had to level out the ground a bit before we started too, so that took a while.

Pops hard at work

Note to self: pink bandana makes face even pinker

That was day 1 of labor.  It was pretty wet for torrential rains the days before, so rather than getting the plate compactor that day or even the next, we let it sit and dry out for a bit.

2. Compacting the Class 5.  I rented a plate compactor from Oakdale Rental (highly recommended).  The boys took turns using it, so they could flex their muscles at each other.  I had to make 2 (!) more runs to get more gravel to finish out the area. Not sure how I ran so short - maybe some areas were deeper than others? Who knows.  I picked up a couple bags of all purpose gravel at menards on compacting day, then later, as we got further into the laying of the brick, I got 1/3 a yard from Patio Town.  Once the compacting was completed, we made sure to check level and then the real fun started, laying the brick!

3. Laying brick.  Brick laying day, I had a lot of help. This was same as compacting day.  We started off wheelbarrowing some sand over and then screeding it out.  Thanks to Young House Love, I got a pvc pipe cut in half to use as screed guides and a spare 2x4 from my dad to use as the screed.
Pops and Sister Kristene screeding and laying, screeding and laying

Dustin posing while shoveling sand. Somebody get that boy a haircut!

Dylan and Dalton spent over an hour reassembling a wheelbarrow with a broken handle - many arguments later, with their mothers guidance, it was finished. Neither will be engineers.

Hours and hours later, we finished the rectangular portion of the patio. I worked my crew to death, including Grandpa. Sorry Gramps!

Rectangular portion done

Day whatever, we were back at work doing the circle part of the patio.  This day it was me, sister Kris, and the nephews (who at this point lost most interest).  The circle was really pretty easy to lay out.  Patio Town gave me a handy guide, so at each row I would know how many of what bricks needed to be laid.  It was just more labor - laying sand, leveling, screeding, plopping down a brick. Rinse and repeat. Until finished.  And finish we did.  Pops came over after work at 5 pm to help us lay the final pieces - that needed to be cut with the diamond blade wet saw.  He manned the saw since Kris and I were too fond of our fingers.  Although I did make one cut, I didn't need to make anymore.  The cuts only took about an hour....and look what we finished with!
Almost finished patio

4. Spreading polymeric sand.  After a rest (night? day? days?) Grandpa came back over and we spread the polymeric sand.  This is sand that you sweep into the cracks of the bricks and mist over it 4+ times, which hardens the sand and keeps the bricks locked into place and helps keep weeds from poking through and ants from building hills.  (So far I've only got one ant hill on the patio).  Sweep sweep sweep, compact compact compact and mist mist mist mist.  It was easy work. 

5. Back filling with dirt.  This was not easy work.  I needed to backfill around the patio with dirt and get the yard looking like a yard again.  This is still a work in progress at this point.  I shoveled out a lot of dirt from a trailer with Gramps.  Thanks for the use of the trailer Art!

Then we trecked out to return the compactor.  We stopped for sustenance. And broke my dads truck. Woops.  We went into McD's and when we came out, I started the truck, went to shift into gear, and the shifter wouldn't move. Went to turn the truck off to try again and I couldn't turn the key off.  Ruh-roh.  Called you ever had trouble shifting your truck out of park? No? Hmm...have you ever had trouble turning it off? No? Ok...because I can't do either.  Cue angry and upset Father.  He came to the rescue and forced the gear shift into drive, but still had no luck turning it off.  Since I was already out with it and it was running, I returned the compactor and went to get my second load of dirt.  Needless to say, after about 3 hours of the truck running, I returned it to my dad and skedaddled out of there as fast as I could. 

But it was done (almost) and ready to enjoy.  With a nice cold beer. And we did.

All thats left for the patio itself is some sealing.  I got the sealer that makes it looking glossy and wet - its going to look super sharp.

Blood - none of mine, only Pops.
Sweat - every single one of us.
Beer - for everyone! (except the younguns)

Up next - Patio Furniture and Landscaping!