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.