August 2, 2012

Patio Install and Landscaping

What a labor of love the patio turned out to be! Lots of labor, but oh so much love for the finished product! My son and I had been discussing putting in a patio for well over a year. I just wasn't exactly sure what I wanted. I knew where I wanted it, and approximately what size, but I really didn't want the cookie-cutter paver patio. So I had to put my thinking cap on and did tons of google searches for ideas.

I remembered at my previous home my Dad had hauled in some gravel and compacted it down for the driveway. It worked beautifully. So I thought, hmmmm, could this work for the patio, too??? Sure it can!!! Now, my parents were coming to town for my daughter's dance recital, so Nick and I wanted to get this done before they got here (well, more me than Nick, but...). Anyway, as we were digging the gigantic hole, we came across a wire that was not marked in the yard. Yikes! (Don't forget to get your yard marked before starting a project like this, even if they do miss one.) Luckily, I did not hit it. No damage done. But I panicked. So I called my Dad and asked if he could come a couple days early and told him why. So the surprise was blown, but I really needed my Dad! And of course, he came to the rescue. I still wonder, after all these years, how my Dad knows so much! I swear, he can do anything!

”patio,
The start of the digging!
Well, my Dad and I finished digging the hole and leveled it out. He then assisted me in choosing the gravel. When I mentioned the gravel he had used at the previous house, he said it should work just fine. People sort of looked at me like I was nuts, but oh well! It is my patio, not there's. I had purchased some 12x12 patio blocks in gray and red for the outside border, and larger 18x18 red block for the center to make an area for the fire pit my sister had given me for Christmas. I had it all worked out in my mind...and it looked great in there.

”patio,
Finished digging and leveling out
And it was starting to look great in person too! The gravel was a bit soft at first, but after the rains (and some hand watering) and settling it has really toughened up and works perfectly! I just used the base gravel they use on the roads before paving. It is less expensive. I considered putting pea gravel over the top, but find this to work just fine for us. We don't use chairs that have real skinny legs, they tend to sink a bit. But if the bottom of the legs are a bit wider, they work just fine. One thing I would do differently, I would put a layer of cardboard or newspaper underneath the gravel to be sure to kill all the weeds. Not many come through, very few really (those darn pesky dandelions), but the cardboard or newspaper breaks down after time and in the process kills everything under it. I really don't have many weeds coming through, so please don't let that sway you from considering using gravel.

”patio,
Finished product!
Then came the landscaping. I didn't know which color mulch I wanted but then saw a show on TV where they used black mulch. And the decision was made! Now, I live in a small community. I couldn't find black mulch just anywhere. So 'thank you' Runnings for having it! It really sets off the plants and all the colors in the patio blocks and gravel. It is so beautiful! I can't wait for all the plants to get larger and really fill in around the patio. I still have a couple of plants to add, but couldn't find the pink rose bush I really wanted, so that will go in next year. I also added lots of landscape lighting and an arbor (that I also added solar rope lights to).

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I
”patio,
Lights on arbor
The total patio project (not including landscaping), cost me around $200.00. Can't beat that! I watched for plants on sale and waited until towards the end of planting season to get some bargains, and it paid off! Many of the plants I chose only cost me around $6.50 each (or less). Not too bad considering how large some of them are. I also went to a local plant sale that benefited the arboretum. That was a great way to get healthy plants and expert tips from the actual growers at a low cost. I will be going to that sale again next year!

The patio is such a wonderful place to hang out. It was like adding another room to the house! Do you have an outdoor space you love? If so, I would love to see pics!

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