Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Porchblogging: Patio progress edition

Here are a few pictures of recent progress on the patio and walkway I am building in the backyard.

The first picture is taken from above, and shows the begining of a little patio/landing outside the porch door. At this point, I wasn't sure how I was going to cut the concrete/faux stone pavers -- let alone how to miter them around a corner. Visitors to Chez Monkee will note the new location of the Shadblow Serviceberry in the northwest corner of the lot (upper left). Also: a mountain of pavers stacked in the middle of the yard, along with gravel and sand for the paver bed.

The second picture shows the completed landing area. The pots are in the future location of a wrought iron railing and gate. Note the well-mitred corners! I ended up using my tile wet-saw, until its motor burned out...naturally in mid-miter. A hammer and cold chisel worked badly. An abrasive disk in my circular saw, coupled with a few sharp raps with the brick chisel, seems to be the winning combination (although the 7" disk is now about 4.5"). Note also the hastily fashined makeshift handle for my 6 lb sledge head, necessary when I couldn't for the life of me find my 4 lb mini sledge. (File that under the categories of "if it's not one thing it's another" and "is this trip really necessary?").

The last picture shows progress made to date. This is the walkway running along the porch, until it turns a corner and heads to the pedestrian alley gate via the trash cans. I am excited about "turning the corner" (literally). I shouldn't have to cut many more blocks, and no mitred angles whatsoever. It's a pretty clean run to the end. I am also pleased with my workmanship in the corner, including a stone "pivot" flush to the pavers, and many, many miter cuts.

The "pivot" is one of those fancy garden design elements that invite you to pause in your journey through the garden (most likely on the way to the trash cans, but whatever) allowing you to explore and reflect. Plus, it's a little more room for the double-stroller turning radius. (With all the stones I have piled up, two birds pose no problem.)

I had cut all the miters the previous day, and quit when I was just too tired to lay them properly. I mean, all that leveling and pounding and checking takes patience. At some point today, I became very confused and missorted the cut blocks. It took me a while to figure out which stones went where. And since I was essentially stealing time while the Monkey took a nap, it was stressful and frustrating rather than amusing.

All in all, the end of this project can't come soon enough. My hands are rougher than sandpaper, my back and shoulders are sore, and spending every spare daylight hour on my knees peering at bricks isn't fun. On the plus side, my hands and forearms are getting stronger, and I am very pleased with the results.

Next stop, laying sod, planting some shrubs, painting a nursery, having a baby, ordering carpet, moving some furniture around. (Ahem...what was that middle part again?)

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