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Day 884 – Fall/Winter Update (The Patio Edition)

November 27, 2012

November 27, 2012-

The weather has turned for the cold and ugly, and while it’s been awhile since we’ve done some posts, we’re still hard at work. Okay, perhaps only moderately hard at work, since with the daylight savings and plethora of rain, there IS a limit to what the human body (and Goretex) can withstand. And while we are still working to add the finishing touches to our addition, let’s get you up to speed on the past few months of goings on.

Patio – The Concept

We had thought a nice “addition” to our addition would be a patio off our back porch. Something with stone, some nice furniture perhaps and a fire pit – it would be awesome on a cool Fall or Spring night. And while we dreamed it, it was just never a priority due to the materials, cost, time and well, all the other things we had to do. The future home of the patio was an area directly behind the addition, and one in which we had done some hard labor to move our rhododendron twice. Before the addition went it, it was considered the side of our house and was a nice grassy patch. Now, it sloped the wrong way from the house, and since it never got much attention after the digging was done, it was just a patch of grass and dirt.

Things changed some when we were able to freely acquire some slate for the patio. While we still didn’t have the time for the patio, we at least had some materials. summer happened, and we made quite a bit of progress on a few other things, but not on the patio idea.

The map of our patio (and we showed our math)

The Dirt

What really got the ball moving was that summer was ending and we realized there was a bunch of stuff to accomplish still outside. The patio, it turns out, was important because as part of our permit, we needed to have inspection on landscaping and erosion. I took advantage of a job transition, and put in some long, backbreaking hours digging dirt to grade the patio. (We had a very dry summer, so it wasn’t as much digging of dirt as it was chiseling of  it).

I dug down six inches next to the house, then graded it down from there and a gradual slope towards the middle of the yard. The resulting dirt and sod was piled up on the grass at the end of the patio, with the plan that some of it would graded into the lawn and the rest kept as a large planting bed for the patio, held in place by a short retaining wall.

With the dirt moved and the ground graded, I laid out weed barrier to serve as the base layer of the patio and stop roots and weeds from growing up through the patio. I had called around for the best prices on 1/4 minus gravel and sand, and arranged for it to be delivered.

The dog patrols the weed barrier, prior to the gravel.

Oh yeah – The Plan

The plan I was following was based on a project plan in This Old House magazine, and adapted to our situation. We had thin slate, not thick Bluestone and our soil had no loamy material, so I had to adjust. For our six inch depth of the patio base, five was supposed to be gravel with another one inch of sand. The slate was a negligible thickness. All our orders accounted for compaction of the gravel.

Sand and Gravel

When the sand and gravel arrived, my in-house workers and I got to work laying it down. I quickly saw that we did not have enough for the planned fill, so in moving gravel around, we had enough for a four inch fill. We rented a plate compactor to help flatten it out, then as the summer long dry spell came to an end, we left it for a week to have the rain help settle it down.

The following weekend, we then moved in with the sand and began to fill with sand and lay the stone. It rained and hailed this weekend, but wet sand isn’t that much harder to work with than dry sand, so we got through it and laid all the stones with some left over. The slate was in two main colors – blues and maroon – with some mixes of the two. We opted to run the blues down the middle of the patio, with the maroon stones taking the outer edges. The blue/maroon mixed stones went as filler between the two colors, acting as a gradient. (The slate came from a house built in the 50’s, so the color tones are very much that era. Did I mention it was free?)

Dumping gravel

The Result

It’s very nice to have an outdoor living space, though with the rain,  the only one really living in the space is the dog. Some of what we’ve learned:

  • The slate patio is nice, although there is a fair amount of movement of the slate tiles as you walk over them, owing in part to the fact that the slate just isn’t that thick, and because of that can’t really sit “into” the sand base. Some stones have cracked.
  • Also, the slate is all irregular, so gaps exist between pieces of the stone. Since our base is sand, these gaps are just sand which has a tendency to wash out or get dog paw prints in. We’re hoping that come Spring, some fast growing ground cover will help fill in the sandy joints and add some stability.

    …and a bit more of the wall and patio

Patio, from the left

From → Porch

  1. Paul Freeman permalink

    You need to compile all of your writings into a book and sell it. It is an interesting read and has been a ton of work for you. Good Job! We sure want to see your home on our next trip to Portland. Time got away from us on the last visit. I noticed one comment that can be a good thing or not so good in your report: “job transition”. I hope it is positive. What are you up to now?


  2. agape permalink

    It looks even better than the pictures!

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