Thursday, April 2, 2009

Patio Magic

Ever since we moved into our house, we knew we wanted to add a patio. We have a nice porch, which Lee recently screened in (more on the porch later), but we didn't have a deck or patio to grill out on and relax in the back yard. The area where our porch leads into the back yard doesn't get much sunlight and had basically become a mud pit. I tried to avoid going out there at all costs so as not to sink into 3 inches of yucky red clay. Whenever we wanted to grill out, Lee would have to stand in the mud pit and cook on our old school charcoal UniFlame grill.

As soon as the first warm weekend of the year came around, we started to hatch our plan. First we went back and forth over whether we should do a poured concrete patio or use patio stones. Then we thought that maybe we should do a deck instead, so we went back and forth between deck and patio for a while. Finally, we committed to patio stones. After another two weeks of trying to decide on what stones to use, we finally got started.

Here's a before shot of what would eventually become the patio:

To prepare for the patio, you basically have to dig a lot, put down a lot of rock, put down a lot of sand, level it all out, and make sure the "grade" is right so water flows away from the house. Seems simple enough, but it was not. As always though, Lee worked his butt off and did a great job. I pretended to help for about 3 hours one Sunday.

Here's a pic of the digging portion. Note the rock/sand bags in the back. 
They were one of the most expensive parts of the whole process as those puppies were $2.50 a bag and what you see here probably isn't half of what we ended up using.

After we got the "paver base" down, Sugar could not resist digging in it:

We had to get Home Depot to deliver the patio stones because they were way too heavy for Lee to haul in his truck. They were delivered on a Tuesday at 6 am. As I left for work that morning, this is the palette of stones sitting in the cul-de-sac:

This was during a crazy-busy week at work for me as we were working on a big new business pitch, so I was working late nights. I got home that night after midnight, expecting both husband and dog to be long asleep. Instead I found them both in the back yard, with Lee putting the final touches on the finished patio! I was so excited and couldn't believe he had gotten all the stones laid in one afternoon/night. 

So flash forward a week. After a few more trips to our second homes - Lowe's and Home Depot - I got my patio set and Lee got his mammoth grill. Here are a few pics of the finished product and our first night grilling out on our lovely patio. Note: we're diligently trying to get the grass in our back yard as amazing as what's in our front yard. The black stuff you see around the patio is carefully babied topsoil and grass seed. Also note the poor lonely UniFlame cast to the side. I almost feel sorry for it. NOT.

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