Front Patio – Step 1

Now that the deck (and twenty part saga of building the deck) has finally been scratched off the “incomplete” list, it’s about time I start undertaking another project that will inspire another twenty part saga about and has the potential to sit unfinished for years to come.

As I stated in the final deck post, while shopping for the last bits of needed lumber for the deck, the Mother of Five and I stumbled upon some new inspiration. 

Our back deck faces directly west.  A back deck that faces directly west means that (depending on the time of year) somewhere between 2pm and sundown, the deck gets so sunny and hot, it’s almost un-usable.  It reminds me of what (I imagine) a hot July or August day in - oh, I dunno, maybe Austin, Texas -  may feel like.   So, many years ago we (even before we built the deck), we adapted another area of our yard to be able to enjoy when the (then future / planned) deck would not be usable. 

We built a front patio.

It was a perfect solution.  Since they are on opposite sides of the house, when one is too sunny and hot or is too cold (and you want to enjoy the sun) – the other will suit our needs!  We cemented (and patterned the cement) a patio into the front of our house.  We also did some landscaping around the patio. 

Over the last few years, the landscaping has lost it’s luster.  The pavers have sank in the ground allowing rocks to spill over on the yard, and dirt/grass to grow over and into the rocks.  We planted several shrubs within the rock, but have discovered over the years that the rock absorbs the heat, and these poor plants were also exposed to their own version of what I imagine a hot July / August summer day in Austin would feel like… (How do PEPOLE survive there without melting???)   As such, we have had very little luck growing much of anything in these spots.

In defense of anyone living in Austin that I may have offended, there is at least one shrub who’s casualty was a direct result of being “Minnesotan”. 

One winter, while buried under a couple of feet of snow, I forgot about one of the shrubs, and ground it up in as I passed over it with my 5hp, 2 stage show blower.  It was akin to the ending of the movie “Fargo”.

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As you can see in these photos, the front patio was looking a little “blah”.  It needed some new life.

Top Left (from our driveway) you can see the bits of the two shrubs that were left.  Way back by the hose reel, and just slightly to the left.

Top Right:  You can see the remnants of the bushes here too, and the big circular corner where we dug up a bush that was dying last fall (why the rocks are pulled away)

Bottom:  A view of the patio from the edge of our yard.



Another area that needed some “TLC” was under the recently completed deck.  The grass had been worn down, and covered with dirt while constructing the deck, and with the almost constant shade under it – efforts to revive the lawn have been futile, yet weeds (like the dandelions you can see) seem to thrive.  You can also see piles of the scrap lumber left over from the deck under the far right window.

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The “Mother of Five” and I picked up our “inspiration” (you will have to wait on that friends.  That’s called a “Teaser” in the blogging world), did some layout and evaluation work, and came up with a game plan.

Step one.  Move the rock.  We had one area we no longer wanted the rock, and another area we did want the rock.  We also had some help in the form of an able bodied son who could use some extra “dinero”.

#1 of 5 and I spent the day laying new landscape fabric (under the deck), shoveling up rock from around the front patio, loading that rock into a wheelbarrow, hauling the rock around back, dumping the rock under the deck, and spreading out the dumped rock.  This routine was repeated over and over all day yesterday.

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The results up front were good! 

We got up 90% of the rock and old landscape plastic and  I cleaned up the pavers and lawn edge around most of the patio (I still have 1 side to finish). 

There are still a couple of piles of rock left – but they are so filled with dirt that I have no choice but to build a giant strainer out of chicken-wire and screen out the dirt from the rock.




The results under the deck were even better! 

I still have to decide what type of boarder I want around the rock, and we have a second wave of rock to move from one area back here (need to “deepen” the rock in this area) – but after I cleaned up the scrap lumber, #1 of 5 and I laid out the landscape fabric, and we moved the first wave of rock to the back, I am utterly surprised on how much better this looks! 

Believe me when I say that the photos are not doing it justice! 

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  1. As someone who has spent the last two summers digging up rock, I can really appriciate the work that you have done my friend! It looks great!

  2. Glad I was busy the day you did this.

  3. I checked the blog Friday and saw the work you had done on Wednesday or Thursday. So I was assuming I would see finished pictures today.

    What gives, slacker? :)

  4. @Mike.. Well, I was waitin' for you to show up with a shovel, a metal rake, and a case of Dr. Pepper...

    But it was a "no-show".

  5. I wish I was more handy!

  6. David,
    I hate rock. Let me be perfectly clear. I hate "decorative" red rock. I have yards and yards of red rock. You are welcome to them anytime. Take all you need or want. Take more than you need or want. Take all of them . . .please.

  7. Great idea for using the old rock under the deck. I should do that. I already have rock, but like you mentioned, it all tends to sink in, but if I put some landscape fabric down...

    Excellent work BTW!

  8. We have a lot of pea gravel around our playscape. I love it because the kids can play on it quickly after rain/during a light rain without a huge mess.

    You may be surprised to find the kids using the under deck space for play space soon.

    Find one of those playhouses and you might have 2 happy girls in short order.

    Just try to teach them to "Keep the rocks in the rocks!"


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