Friday, January 8, 2010

Outdoor Oasis: Finished Brick Patio

Our patio extension has been finished since early November, but I'm just now getting around to posting about it. My super-handy husband, Patrick, did all of the hard work himself, and I think he did a fabulous job! He used unwanted antique Chicago bricks from a local contractor, found via Craig's List. In this photo, he hadn't yet filled in all the gaps around the patio's edge, but that's done now.

Here's how this area looked when we first bought the house, just over a year ago:

We've made quite a few changes in addition to the new patio:
  • replaced the windows (as well as those on the rest of the house)
  • sledge-hammered away those humongous rocks around the pond so that it's more integrated into the landscape & less Flintstones-y
  • painted the inside of the pond black so that it almost disappears & looks more like a real pond & less like a teeny-tiny swimming pool
  • removed those mind-bogglingly random pavers from around the pond & re-purposed them in other parts of the yard: the small square ones are now flower bed edging, placed on end & buried deep so that only a few inches of each are visible (it looks really good!), and the others were used to build a retaining wall for our compost piles
  • created the little rock bed with cacti cuttings from my parents' yard & our suspended flower pots (which are now empty save for one - some replanting is definitely in order!)
  • covered the ground with weed-blocking cloth & crushed granite gravel to create garden paths between our flower beds

We designed the patio together (of course I helped out with that - that's the fun part!), but Patrick did most of the work. I did help with the loading & unloading of all of those bricks when we got them from the contractor's site - 700 bricks! That's a lot of bricks. I didn't help much after that, though.

Patrick poured a foundation of gravel and sand and tamped it down, then laid each brick by hand (which ended up being even more than 700; he had to order more).

The last step was the coolest: sweeping sand across the bricks to fill in the gaps. It was mesmerizing to watch. I even swept a section myself; it was oddly satisfying. You start with a pile of sand, then sweep it across the bricks and it falls in between them, neatly filling in all of the spaces and leaving the tops of the bricks clean. I loved that step!

Of course I mostly love that our patio is all finished now. It looks amazing, especially with the shiny new grill we got as a Christmas gift! We've been using it a lot already, and can't wait for it to warm up so we can have friends over & enjoy being out there.

Next step in creating our Outdoor Oasis: converting that boring covered slab into a relaxing and beautiful outdoor living room! Stay tuned...
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