Baby Got Back (Yard)

After many weeks away from the blog, I am back! You know how sometimes life just speeds by? Well, that’s what has happened and I have neglected the poor little blog that I love.

Sometimes a hiatus spurs a brilliant idea, so The Judge and I are starting a little series called Baby Got Back to get us back in the swing of blogging on a more regular basis. I was supposed to have the first post, since I had the intro written, but sometimes little sisters can also be brats. 

For once, I am going to be sharing a house update! This never happens. Not because I am lazy, or don’t have any ideas, it’s mostly because:

1) I need a little motivation sometimes

2) I don’t have a whole lotta DIY knowhow and

3) I need more money to execute awesome ideas.

The backyard has been a thorn in our side since we moved in: it seemed like there was just so much to do back there, and we didn’t know where to begin, or what would actually bring us the best use of the space. We wanted to extend our current hillbilly porch (hillbilly because it looks like there should be a couch sitting on it and we keep a lot of crap out there) further out into the yard, get rid of the grass by putting a deck or patio there and also extend the yard by utilizing the roof of the garage somehow (either as a seating area, living roof, or something besides a giant black rectangle). About 3 years or so ago, my lovely aunt, Marlene, called and said she had a bunch of paver bricks she wanted to get rid of since she was going to replace her paver patio with a stamped concrete patio. Dan and I went out and picked them up, put them on a skid and stored them at my parent’s office for the next 3 years…

Fast forward to May, 2014: My neighbor, Michael Lakoff- a.k.a. motivator, The Best Neighbor Ever and foreman for this yard project, has been talking to me about doing something to my yard since he moved next door about 2 years ago. He is seriously a freaking machine: Michael owns the landscaping business Sun + Rain. When I mentioned that I had a skid of paver bricks waiting for such a project, all he said was, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Well, I think I was just waiting for Michael. It’s pretty crazy, but we got the patio graded, base down, sand down and leveled AND laid all the bricks in ONE DAY. I was doing a serious happy dance.

I totally thought this was going to be a lot more difficult than it was, but I guess when you have someone that really knows what they’re doing, and people who are willing to help you, it makes a HUGE difference. The day before we started grading the yard, Dan got all of the stepping stones out of the grass.The pics below are also serving as our “before” photos, since we didn’t take any- you get the idea, though! You can also see the pile of bricks donated by my Aunt.

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My dad used the tiller we rented to get all of the grass turned over so that it made for a nice loose surface that we could easily level out. And after it was all tilled up:

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The next day, we got to work. Michael brought over a 2×4 and 3 PVC pipes for leveling the sand. First, we raked all the dirt that had been tilled up to start making room for the paver base. Paver base is actually pretty dope stuff; it’s like sand and gravel together, but once you lay it down, it becomes hard and helps prevent all of your pavers from sinking into the ground like they would if you only used sand. After we got all the base down, we raked it out, then tamped it down with a bunch of our feet.

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All the while, my mom and grandmother are watching and drinking Bloody Mary’s.

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Then came the sand. Michael set up the pipes, we dumped sand out, spread it around and then ran the 2×4 over it all to level it out. See how pretty and smooth it is?

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Once that was all done, we started laying bricks. At this point, I was on a high because I was just going to be happy if we got the base and the sand leveled out, but to actually get the bricks going was the best feeling. I think you can see it in my face:

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We chose a basket weave pattern because it was pretty easy to do without having to make a bunch of cuts and was more interesting than the Jack on Jack pattern.

You can see our pattern a bit better in this pic:

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Literally it was about 2:30 PM and we were sweeping the sand into the cracks. It was glorious. We had a LEGIT patio. We have spent more time outside in our yard than we ever have before; it’s probably the best project we’ve ever done.

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We had some other things to do as well, like move our rock wall up and around the patio to make it more stable, and build some steps into what we’re calling the lower garden. I came home from work one day, and it looked like this (thanks to Michael, of course):

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Then, we added some soil, edging (which you can’t see in the pic, cause it’s under the pavers) and plants and, voila!

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There’s still a lot of work to do, but it looks pretty good, right!?!

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