A good friend of mine just bought her first house. I’m thrilled for her; she worked and saved for years to buy it at an auction for cash. Since she chose a “fixer,” she had cash left over for repairs and appliances, but she is by no means rich.
Her two small children couldn’t play in the back yard because the concrete patio was lying in broken chunks. It looked as though it hadn’t been maintained in years and had been broken by sledgehammers.
She wanted a patio, but didn’t have enough money to hire a company to pour a new slab. I had seen a project on the This Old House website, and shared the idea I had with her. We worked for a couple of weeks, and the end result was fantastic. I’ll share what we did with you.
You Will Need:
- · Flat rocks, broken bluestone or broken concrete that is flat on one side. You can also build a mold to pour your own concrete stones that resemble flat rocks or concrete segments.
- · Paver base, enough to cover the marked area three inches deep.
- · Coarse or leveling sand, enough to cover the marked area an inch deep.
- · Spacers. This ensures space between each stone to allow grass or moss to grow. You can use anything, as long as you maintain a consistent measurement between your stones.
- · Marking string, measuring tools, shovels, a six-foot long level, rubber mallet
- · Plans for the removed dirt
We measured and marked the old patio area with stakes. Adding space between the pieces would result in a slightly larger patio.
Each piece of concrete was carefully raised and moved across the yard. We tried to keep the pieces in order to facilitate quicker construction. After the pieces were removed, we tied string around the marking stakes and ensured the corners were square and the area was a perfect rectangle.
The fun part had begun. Using shovels, everyone pitched in to dig the area out at least six inches deep. The removed dirt was placed on inexpensive tarps so it could be screened to remove rocks, nails, weeds, unusable bits of concrete and other debris. A little money was found, along with a few curious items.
The dirt would not be replaced in the hole; I’ll tell you what we did with it later.
We made sure the bottom of the hole was level. The finished top of the patio had to slope away from the house to prevent water from pooling against the foundation. We ran a second string at ground level near the house and an 1/8th of an inch lower for each foot away from the house. This second string would be our guide to keeping the slope true.
Paver base was added until we had filled the hole three inches. We used tampers to pack the base tight, adding more base as the level went down. When the base was packed tight, we added sand to a depth of 1″ and tamped that down as well. More sand was added at the back to create a wedge that would allow the pavers to be set on the proper slope.
Once the sand was in place, the fun began of moving the concrete pieces back to the new patio area. Each piece was set in place using the rubber mallet and we made sure each piece was level.
After the last stone was set in place, we used the level to recheck the evenness of the patio and the slope.
We soaked the new patio surface to ensure the pieces were set in place and allowed everything to dry for a week.
After letting the new patio settle in, the kids decided they wanted to paint the various pieces. I bought masonry primer and paint for their project as a housewarming present. They were thrilled to add their own designs and patterns to their new patio pieces.
We mixed the removed dirt in a 1:1 ratio with garden soil mix from the local garden center and packed it in the spaces between the pieces. New neighbors had donated extra plants to help my friend with her landscaping. We planted monkey grass along the perimeter and a small moss between the pieces.
The rest of the removed dirt was loaded into a raised garden frame and mixed with a very healthy dose of garden soil, compost and coarse sand.
My friend loves her new home and learning new skills while she makes the place reflect her style. Her kids love entertaining their friends on their new patio.
Source: Jennifer Stimpson, “How To Lay A Bluestone Patio,” This Old House website, no date given
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.