patio project

Patio Project Near Completion


And just in time. My brother’s return flight to Seattle has loomed on the calendar, along with the daily weather forecasts. We have been most fortunate, keeping on track with the former while dealing with the latter. The photo above shows the basic work done: poured concrete edging well set; foundation for pavers put in; and the pavers themselves set in place. Two further photos may help show how this was far from a simple process.

Here we see the packed gravel foundation for the patio, with sand above it, between the concrete edge surround on the left, and a wooden frame on the right. Below is a photo of an ingenious wooden framing-tool my brother created, which first helped us level the gravel, and then assisted us to achieve a level, packed sand surface for the pavers.

Careful attention to two things at this point made a huge difference. The first was to attending to old fashioned geometry – making sure everything was square. Because if we were not attentive to this point from the placing of the first square, all else would have been difficult and possibly compromised.

Also critical at this stage¬†was leveling the sand, assisted by hand-holds of sand, a shovel, and a very handy 6″ spackle blade. With my brother’s home-made framing tool (depicted above), laying the pavers on a flat but slightly sloped surface was (as some might say, perhaps wrongly) ‘a piece of cake!’

Here we are after the first few rows. We did all of them in about 5-6 hours. Though we have some edging work left to do, and putting some very fine sand between the pavers, as well as between them and the concrete edging, we have essentially achieved our goal.

Here is how it looked before we started!



A Patio Project by My Brother, with a Good Neighbor’s Help

Building the frames for the concrete edging


The project continues, as does the seemingly ceaseless rain! Living near the Gulf of Mexico in the summer brings the possibility of lingering low pressure cells, sometimes dropping inch-an-hour rain. We have entered that middle stage of a project where we have done enough so far to prevent turning back, and yet not far enough along to have confidence about the intended result.

80 pound bags of Quikrete are not easy to lift and move around, and are far more challenging to handle than individual stone pavers. And three cubic yards of ‘gravels and fines’ (perhaps about 5 tons!), brought here to south Louisiana by barge, must be moved from the driveway out front to the new patio out back. In the midst of these considerations, a 9″diameter trunk magnolia had to come down because its roots had already compromised the prior patio. We accomplished that mostly by using a handsaw, but the providential appearance of a neighbor with a chainsaw helped us take care of the hardest and last part of that task.

The magnolia on its way down! (the debris in the roof valley is coming down, as well)

Another confidence-building point has been the kind help provided by our thoughtful next door neighbor, who volunteered to drive his Bobcat small tractor to assist us. In the process of helping clear the area for the new patio, as well as to move the gravel around to the back, we made a discovery. A very large, 80-100′ ancient pine tree had also intruded roots under the whole area of the old patio, and needed to be removed. Below is a photo of the guy who climbed that tall old tree to achieve its removal.

Having cleared the trees and roots, we have continued to deal with the challenge of almost daily heavy rains. Though my brother very carefully provided a packed gravel base for the new patio, heavy rain flooded the area. His good work enabled him to put in a wooden framework for the concrete edge of our intended project, and has allowed us to begin pouring new cement into it.

My brother’s self-taught knowledge of landscaping has helped him know how to prepare a proper foundation for pouring cement in this way, including how to handle rebar. The photo below shows how he has carefully anticipated a pour that we intended to make this afternoon.

As we began to pour fresh cement, the rain (of course) began again:

More to follow!