Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Front Patio - A Tune Up for the Back Yard Courtyard Project, AKAThe Big Dig

Inside the fenced portion of our front yard we've had some luck (finally) getting my old "grass couch" looking better with some annuals, but the rest of the ground inside the fence has been awful - just a place for the dog to play ball. The ground is sloped so we couldn't have a decent place to sit. I've been wanting to do something to it for a while, and finally I made some decisions and went to work!

My idea was to dig out a level area for something like a kidney shaped slate patio with a small retaining wall.

Here's the area after most of my digging was done - I'm estimating I dug and moved about 2 to 3 tons of dirt.

Next I stapled down some landscape cloth to block out weeds, and then I spread about 1500 pounds of gravel to level out the surface, and tamped it down.

At that point I started moving these this pieces of slate I've been saving for years. They formed a patio at our old house, and I had torn that apart before we moved here. Since the old house was only a mile away I brought the slate pieces with me. They averaged about two inches in thickness, much sturdier than what you see for sale these days. Yes, I'm crazy.

Here I was putting the puzzle together and doing my best to keep things leveled.  I was able to get by without doing much cutting of the stones I had.

From past experience, I knew that weeds can sprout up from the joints if you use sand or something loose, so I chose to fill the joints with concrete.

Not the prettiest at this point.

I bought some stacking stones for the wall and cemented those in place.

Now that the concrete is nearly cured, I plan to clean it with some muriatic acid.

The metal mesh chairs and love seat I painted yellow last year never looked right so I gave ten a fresh coat of Rustoleum Apple Red. I like this color much better and it matches the red accents in our front entry.

Here's the way it looks as of now:

SWMBO will be planting along the wall to add some color, and we plan to add some more plants later on this fall. 

I love the result of this project.  It took me about 30-40 hours of work spread out over two weeks, and now we finally have a level place to sit and less grass to cut!  Plus, I'm motivated to get back on the back courtyard project which has been languishing for way too long.


  1. Looks really good. I have a similar project I have wanted to do for years...maybe some day.

  2. Looks great! And I totally know where you are coming from on "saving stone" I do it all the time out at the Lake. I really dig the kidney bean shape and the retaining wall. Job well done! Freshly painted red chairs look sharp too!