Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reader Reno - A Patio from Colorado

After reading my DIY Patio post last December, Melissa from Englewood, CO sent me an email about her very own grueling patio project.  She said the project took her and her fiance an entire summer to complete, and they are "not above saying how proud we are of it!"  Sounds like my kind of girl! 

Melissa's house is tiny (an unbelieveable 720 sq feet!) but has a big yard, so they wanted to maximize the living space their house had to offer by creating a huge patio.  Upon my request, Melissa was kind enough to offer her photos to inspire those of you who are thinking about doing this project yourselves.  The explanations of the photos are above each one, and if you have any questions feel free to email Melissa at mizzo1 at hotmail dot com.  BTW Melissa, your curvy patio pretty much kicks our patio's butt!

This is the old, sad patio before starting the project.  Doesn't make you want to sit down to margaritas, does it?  There was also an old concrete sidewalk they wanted to get rid of.  The doggie is standing on the little bit you can see in this pic.

The old patio and sidewalk were busted up, removed and dropped off at the concrete recycling center - 6 trips (!) later it was all gone.

Sod was removed before excavation using a power sod-cutter.  The sod they cut out was used to fill the void left by the old sidewalk.  Very GREEN of them, huh?  HA!  I kill me. 

Excavation is complete.  A step was built up with cinder blocks around the door.  They used an old surveyor's transit for depth markers in preparation for the base. Isn't that cool?

Three inches of compacted base was used, about half the base material that we used. I wonder if the company we purchased our materials from was just trying to milk us for more cash?  There is a range of recommended depths, and we chose the highest one because we are paranoid.  And we like to dig 9 inch deep trenches in our yard.  NOT.

Edging is down, step base is complete, seating walls are built and rebarred.  Brick facade is begun on walls to cover the cinderblocks.  Why didn't we think of using cinderblocks?

They put sand down using 1" pvc pipes as screed rails.  The full bricks were all laid first, then bricks were marked for cuts before renting the wet saw.  Doing this saves some major rental dollars!

After all full bricks were laid, they rented the wet saw and started cutting their previously marked bricks. They had marked each brick individually for it's spot and numbered the full brick and it's adjacent cut brick to match.  This couple is seriously on top of things!  

After all bricks were in place, they compacted them to settle them into the sand below. (We didn't compact the bricks on our patio, just the base) Then, they swept sand over the top and compacted that down into the cracks.  (Uh, we didn't do this part either, that is what having a mad crazy party is for, get to dancin people!)

And here is a full shot of the completed patio, in winter but still looking mighty pretty!  I think this is insane for a DIY project.  INSANE.

And a shot of the patio from the back door. Where the old patio used to be is now a planting bed that wraps around the back of the seating walls.  Seriously, I would go crazy with all that planting area!  The circle you see there is actually a hole that gives access to a clean-out (a very old sewer system in neighborhood).

So, what do you think?  Do you want Melissa to come help you with your patio?  I know I could've used her mad skills when we were doing ours!  I hope this gives you some ideas for trying this project yourself.  Thanks again for sharing, Melissa!


  1. My house is small too but I have a nice big yard. Unfortunately my back patio looks like the first picture! I can see I have a lot of hours ahead of me. It looks wonderful. I wonder if they plan on covering any of it?

  2. Wow .... looks beautiful. What a lot of work.

    Melissa ... send Sara an updated picture when you get the plants in ....

  3. OOh, nice. I need both of your ladies help with our dreadfull, hodge podge of a patio....great job

  4. Ugh...this is something I need to do soon as well. I know it's worth all the efforts though.

    Looks fab! I love the idea of seat benches.

  5. yes, melissa, please come do our patio! and our driveway. and...


  6. I would love to have a patio like that. Looks great!!

  7. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

    That is one amazing patio tranformation. What a project to take on. I bet they had some serious muscles by the end of the summer.

  8. I wish I had that patio! I can see myself sitting out there on a warm summer night with a cold beverage...

    GREAT job!!


Thanks so much for reading....your comments mean a lot to me!