Posts tagged ‘Backyard’

June 28, 2011

Guest Posting at Our Humble A{Bowe}d

by Cait

Today I’m guest posting over at Our Humble A{Bowe}d about our plans for the backyard, so be sure to check it out!

And a big welcome to anyone who is a first time reader! Thanks so much for stopping by!

June 14, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Day 3 and Still No Jackhammer

by Cait

I’m finally back with our progress pictures. But first, a before.

Weird Concrete

This is how it looked after the weekend’s hard work.

on Sunday

Yesterday it started pouring around right before we left work and because we had zero desire to use metal (and power) tools in the thunder & lightning we decided to take the night off. (Well, that and plus it kept pouring all night long). When I got home from work today Robert had it looking like this.

earlier today

We were planning on renting a jackhammer, but Robert decided he wanted to try a few more things first. What he ended up doing was drill a few holes into the thick concrete in a line and then sledgehammer the area where he drilled; apparently it works sort of like perforating paper. Then he was able to use the pry bar to further snap things along the crack that was created. Mostly I think he wanted to get all the way through without a jackhammer because he’s stubborn, but that hadn’t worked we definitely would have rented one this weekend.

While he was finishing that up I started tackling the wavy tile.

note the two types of tile, misaligned

I used two hammers in what I like the call the Jamie Hyneman Method  (except I used a rubber headed hammer instead of  two metal ones. Yes, that’s a “wubber headed hammer”, Mom). The plan it to rent a saw (what Robert refers to as “the regular one”, not a wet saw) to score a straight line about where the tile I have yet to remove ends and  as far down as the Frog Tape (which you can see in the first tile picture), which is right before that pile of rock I’ve been pulling out of the yard. Then we’ll retile with some terra cotta tile we got from my parents.

free terra cotta tile!

We’re hoping to use the square tiles in the back for next to the porch, because we have a plan for those lighter colored rectangular ones. Maybe you can guess what I want to do with them if you keep my love of exposed brick in mind.

Any guesses?

June 13, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Labor Pains

by Cait

Alternate title: The One In Which I Suggest We Change Our Blog Name to “Illegal Dumping”

For anyone who follows us on Facebook, you might have seen me talk a bit about the “weird concrete” in our backyard.

weird concrete in all its glory awkwardness

When Robert got home from work on Saturday we (meaning he) took a sledgehammer to the weird concrete and I loaded the pieces into the back of the truck. (Fun fact: When we put up our fence we didn’t plan on it, but his Ranger justbarely fits through the gate into the backyard. Granted it then got covered in some sort of sticky nastiness that dripped off our weed-trees, but it washed off ok.) My hamstrings (and I’m assuming Robert’s back and shoulders) want you to know that this process did not go as easily as I would lead you to believe on Facebook.

Saturday’s status update
Sunday’s status update

Sunday morning we resumed the process of trying to break the last three or so feet of concrete out. Forty minutes or so later we said “screw it” and decided to brainstorm while dumping the concrete we had already broken out. (I owe you pictures of that truck-load, I just haven’t pulled them off the memory card yet. Whoops.) While we were tossing our concrete into a dumpster (with the manager’s permission if you want to get technical, though he wasn’t working this time) I joked that we should change out blog name to “Illegal Dumping”.

To wrap things up, the first 22-24 feet of concrete busted out fairly easily because whoever put it down had no idea what they were doing. What we thought was rebar was actually just a couple of long bolts (which we’re guessing were connected to supports for a deck, maybe?) The last bit, the part Robert hammered on for 40 minutes and only managed to chip tiny pieces off of, is an L-shaped area where the long side of the L is the horizontal part in the foreground of the picture above. The concrete there was much thicker, as if they had a lot left over so they just dug deeper and dumped the rest in that area.

We’re thinking about renting a jackhammer for that last part (though Robert just texted me saying he’s still brainstorming other ideas). It’s about $200 cheaper than renting a saw would have been, and it should also help with chiseling up the tile. At the moment our plan for the tiled area is to square it off with (groan) more concrete and then re-tile the area using some terra cotta tiles we scored from the shed on some family property. In theroy it should coordinate well with the brick patio, cross your fingers for us!

Anyone else do anything house projects that left them sore this Monday morning?

June 3, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Budgeting

by Cait

Yesterday Robert went to a local stone and landscape supplies place to get quotes for sand, weed blocker fabric, plastic edging, polymeric sand and whatever else we might need for our patio.  (He has short work days on Tuesdays & Thursdays, so he usually does weekday-only errands on those days whenever he’s not in class.) I’m kind of a planner (despite the fact that I bounce from project to project) so we came up with a list of things we thought we needed for the patio while watching Criminal Minds the other night. After talking to the owner & several other employees at the landscaping company Robert determined that we not only don’t need gravel, but the 2″ of sand that I was thinking about (I guess to make up for the lack of gravel, or to make myself feel better) for a base is excessive in Florida. Also, apparently the plastic edging is also something you can skip as long as you are ok with the idea of having to redo the edge bricks every 10-20 years when they turn under/get buried by surrounding dirt.

919 Lime Rock, from the landscaping company’s website

I should mention that when I say “sand” what I really mean is what our landscape company calls “919 Lime Rock”. They list it as “compactable base material; pathways, wall footings, driveways, pavers, etc”, which sounds about perfect to me. As you can see from the picture above it kind of looks like a cross between sand and gravel, and Robert says it feels really weird. 

According to the the site, one cubic yard covers 162 square feet at a 2″ depth, so since we are planning on a 1″ depth for a 12×26 patio we can get away with only one cubic yard of 919. We are also thinking about getting  2-3 bags of polymeric sand to fill in the joints between the bricks (the guy said we can get away with 2 bags if we’re careful, so maybe we’ll go with 2).

weird concrete/tile in the area where the patio will go

The patio is going to go just slightly past the door in the picture above (about where that pile of river rock that I’ve been pulling out of the yard is rather than the end of the tile). We could have planned it much larger, but eventually we want to add a half bath off the living room (that will also have a door to the outside/patio) and the planner in me really doesn’t want to buy the materials (or the furniture!)  for a huge patio that we’re just going to have to redo when that happens.

Budget Breakdown:

  • 919 Lime Rock – $63/cubic yard
  • Polymeric Sand – $27.95/bag (need 2)
  • Delivery – $35 regardless of amount ordered
  • Weed Blocker – $12.97 for 3′ x 50′ at Home Depot (need 2)

Total: $179.84

We also have to get a quote on a tamper/compactor for the 919 base and possibly a concrete saw for cutting the weird concrete & tile seen in the picture above. Thankfully Robert knows some of the employees at local DIY and tool rental stores through work, so we may be able to get a deal on rental of those. Fingers crossed on that one. We may also need more “interior brick” (since we’re hoping the brick from Ryan’s dad will be enough for the perimeter), which is 40 cents a brick. So far though, $180 sounds a lot better than some of the patio costs I’ve seen, so I’m not too worried about the thought of tool rental or possibly needing more brick.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we’re trying to budget our exterior projects in a way that maximizes the amount of material we get for the delivery cost (since it’s $35 no matter what we order, assuming it all fits on one truck of course). We have been wanting to add some 1/2″ river rock around the house for improved drainage, we need a walkway to the outdoor shower, and I kind of want to make a wall beside the patio out of flagstone or fieldstone,  so maybe we will order some of those things. Whatever we decide to do will definitely get its own post and budget breakdown.

June 1, 2011

Reclaimed Space

by Cait

I’ve mentioned a few times how Robert and I want to work on the backyard this summer. We built the shower surround earlier this spring, and we had plans for a few other projects before it got derailed by the guest bathroom. Since I am impatient (and scatterbrained) I have been trying to come up with a more budget friendly idea for a patio or deck. Preferably something that we can do once and be done with it. We strongly considered trying to make a deck with pallets, but in the end we decided to go with a brick patio (partially because of this post on Re-Nest, and a bunch of pretty pictures on Pinterest).  

Brick seemed like the most economical option after poking around in the blog world, and especially after we found out that a local wrecking company has a very, very large pile of brick for 40 cents a brick. That price beats pants off of the cheapest patio pavers at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and it’s reclaimed, which makes me feel better than buying brand-spanking new pavers.

for scale, the smallest pile is probably about four feet high

We were lucky enough to get two smaller piles of reclaimed brick (the below is only half of it) from my parents and Ryan’s dad.

this is a Ford Ranger’s bed with about three layers of brick

My basic plan (especially after talking to Emily and hearing her & Pete’s experience) is to break up the weird concrete & tile, level & tamp the ground, weed block, add sand, lay the brick and fill in gaps with sand. I know that generally speaking it is recommended to use gravel after tamping the ground and before the sand (and that not doing so seems to go against my desire to “do once and be done with it”), but Emily said that neither her mom nor Pete’s parents used gravel and their patio/walkways have been fine. So, this is me throwing caution to the wind. Please hold any I-told-you-so’s until our plan crashes and burns, k?

We really don’t want a picture-perfect patio, we are much more drawn to the rustic look. Besides, our brick is reclaimed and a lot of them are broken in half anyway.

Last night (after half-off frozen yogurt, because I’m a cheap date) we were piling our second truck load of brick in the backyard and I pitched the idea of using the brick from Ryan’s dad (which is slightly larger) for the perimeter of the patio, and the brick from my parents (which we think came from my grandparents’ house) to fill in. If we need more fill-in brick we will buy some of the 40-cent bricks from the wrecking company, because it looks to be the same size and general style. 

Then I mocked up this design, but it looks to perfect and uniform (I was impatient and just made three basic brick sizes for the interior and then alternated them). Basically we want to stagger the rows of brick, sort of the way you stagger subway tile except that our brick is not anywhere near uniform.

Hopefully this post was less scattered than the previous two have been.

Does anyone else have patio plans in the works? I’ve been loving Rebecca & Mike’s patio.

May 24, 2011

Life of the Party

by Cait

I had a short day at work yesterday, so when I got home I spent a while clearing some underbrush out from along the fence line in the backyard. The below is the before. Sadly? The after doesn’t look much different (to me anyway – Robert says it looks much better, so that’s good).

Also I think I may have been weeding out Poison Sumac (or so says Google). Joyful. I didn’t follow any of the suggestions mentioned in the comments here on Re-Nest, but this morning I seem to be mostly rash-free. Sweet!

I’m going to pretend (for Robert’s very low-key party) that the yard has a fence like this:

from Cottage in the Oaks

And lights like this:

from Pottery Barn

In actuality (especially with the bathroom remodel & a tight budget), I think we’re going to string some already-owned mini-bulb Christmas lights up and I might use some left over fabric as a table runner (or turn it into a banner). Which is probably more Robert’s style anyhow, seeing as he doesn’t want to have a party. I guess what I’m planning is not so much a party as an informal gathering anyhow. We’re not really birthday people and a lot of the people we would have invited have kids’ birthdays and weddings going on that same day/weekend. 

from The Sweetest Occasion

So despite the fact that I want to spend $100+ on patio lights, make balloon garlands, tissue paper pom-poms, and just generally decorate the yard like the picture above, I think our budget is going to mainly be spent on food and drinks instead. Maybe we’ll have a just-beacuse party when the bathroom is done. 

That being said, here is my ideal backyard party design board if our budget were unlimited (although everything is pretty inexpensive or DIYed anyhow).

Anyone else have summer party plans in the works? I’d love to hear about your plans!

April 19, 2011

We’re Surrounded

by Cait

Just a quick post to show our outdoor shower surround, since I forgot to upload them this morning, when I discussed what we want to do for plumbing.

As a reminder, our inspiration picture:

inspiration photo from houzz

We haven’t decided what color to paint or stain the wood yet, so we’ll work on making that decision while we’re working out the plumbing (our plumbing will run up the side of the house and replace the super classy hose).

I couldn’t take many pictures during the construction thanks to a helpful combination of dead camera battery and needing both of us to hold things, but I’ll post about how we made it later.

April 18, 2011

On the Table

by Cait

I’ve been thinking a lot about patio/deck furniture recently, especially since the weather is warming up. Our current set is fine (comfortable & in great condition), but I’m very tempted to Craigslist/garage sale it and start over. I have no idea how much we’d be able to get for our set, but it’s $299.00 at Target.

our current set

If we had an unlimited budget I’d probably go with something like the CB2 Encore chairs and Darjeeling dining table. (I know these pieces aren’t meant for outdoor/patio use, but if we had an unlimited budget, who cares?) Since we shockingly </sarcasm> don’t have $1500 to spend on patio furniture, I’m considering chairs from or Ikea.  The CSN set is $159.98 for two, and the Ikea ones are $49.99 each.

Left from, right from Ikea

As far as tables, I’m debating between DIYing one, and buying something. If we opt to buy something, these are the styles that I like:

Top from Ikea, bottom left from Target, bottom right from Target 

I don’t want our set to be perfectly matching (that’s part of what bothers me about our set now), so I’d probably pair the CSN chairs with something like the Target Schou table (bottom left), or the Ikea table with the Ikea chairs.

If we were to build something, it would be similar to the Schou table, metal frame with reclaimed wood top. Kind of a table version of the Crate&Barrel Fulton desk, but with chunkier legs. I have dreams of having a friend weld the frame, but I might take the easy way out and use Ikea Moliden or Vika Lerberg legs with a reclaimed wood top. (Kind of like this desk except, y’know, table-like. And not with white legs.) Ana White has good designs, too, but I really like the metal&wood look.

Does anyone have any of the pieces we’re considering?

April 15, 2011

Pallet Talk

by Cait

Please tell me if this is a crazy idea.

We want a deck like the one below, but we don’t want to spend that much money on the wood to build it (since we also need stain, protectant, and Robert said something about wanting a new nailgun).

from desire to inspire

What we do have, however, is this:

And there’s more where that came from. Any ideas where this is going? Anyone? Bueller?

Ok, maybe I am crazy. I’m thinking we could possibly lay out some pallets as the frame since they’re about the right heigh, and then either use more pallet wood to make the deck surface or cough up the dough to buy that part.  Then I want to add the lights below-left around the edge and below-right on the eaves of the porch. Or I might just ask for Ryan’s help with LEDs around the edge of the deck. Something so that people don’t trip, die, and sue me. (You didn’t know people could sue from beyond the grave? TV says they can. Also, look Lisa, I’m thinking about liabilities!)

both from Lowe’s; left here, right here

So what do you think. Will it work? Am I insane? Discuss!

April 12, 2011

I Need a Staycation

by Cait

Last night Robert and I started planning out the backyard projects. We broke everything down into four major parts: 1) the outdoor shower, 2) the deck, 3) the pool and 4) the fence(s).  Each part will most likely have sub-sections (we might do the shower surround one week and plumb it the next), but that is the general idea. I have no idea what all we’ll get done this summer, but I would like the backyard to be a nice place to relax on weekends and whenever we have time off.

from houzz

We figured out that the shower will cost about $250-300 for the galvanized metal sheets, wood to frame, stain & protectant and plumbing. We have a $100 Lowe’s gift card we’ve been hoarding*, and we just got a $25 off a $250 purchase coupon, so that should knock it down considerably.

from desire to inspire

After the shower I want to tackle a low deck like the one I talked about yesterday. We decided on a deck size of 12×32, but we haven’t fully priced it out yet. I know a deck would still be expensive (Robert said $1500-2000 ballpark), so we’re just trying to come up with the easiest way to make it happen. Contemplating the idea of using reclaimed pallet wood for the deck surface  to cut the cost down and framing the underside with 2x6s.

from bigBANG studio, seen on The Brick House

As I have said before, I want a pool like this really, really badly!  Technically the pool above is made from a silo (and deep!) while the one we want is only two feet deep (and either eight or ten feet, we haven’t decided yet).  Last summer we went to a Tractor Supply near us and I think the eight foot one was about $300.  Also, Robert’s parents know someone who have a somewhat similar pool, so we would probably discuss filters/etc with his parents’ friend.  We would probably buy the stock tank first, then the pump&filter/whatever. Eventually we also love the idea of having a smaller, heated tank (similar to the one below), but that would be another project in itself.

from Dwell via The Brick House

Around the backside of the pool I want an L-shaped fence similar to the top photo below. We would probably make ours from 1x6s or 2x6s with 4×4 uprights, and Robert says he wants the slats closer together for more privacy. There is also discussion about how far the long side of the L should go. He votes for all the way down the yard, and currently I vote for switching to a shorter fence a few feet past the pool. Also, we’d try to get the neighbor behind(/beside, since we’re on a corner) us to go in on the fence between our yards, and I’d probably suggest we do slats on both sides so that no one gets the “ugly” side. The front side of the pool would have a deck of some sort.

The weird jut-out  (that I tried to describe here; that some might call as a side yard but Robert describes as a “dog toilet”) would have a shorter fence like the one in the bottom photo below. Currently we have a picket fence that we (and when I say “we” I mean Robert&Ryan) put up when we moved in, but that was always sort of a temporary measure. When we replace it we’ll  make that area completely seperate from the rest of the yard (we might even add a second door off the porch that opens into it). And of course we’ll save the wood from the picket fence to resuse for other projects.

fence images from here, seen on The Brick House

As far as gates go, I want something fairly modern. I can’t decide if I want something wooden or metal, but I like the two images below.



from houzz

Going from the porch to the deck (and maybe the porch to the “dog toilet” area) I want barn doors kind of like the ones above. I can’t decide if I want something with glass/plexi or screen. I think not-screen would be the best option, because when we’re on the porch we’ll probably have them open, but it would be nice not to get rain insde when they’re closed. We’ve been talking about using plexi (or something) to replace the screen on the porch as well. 


I made a plan of what we’re hoping to do with help from  Better Homes & Garden’s Plan-A-Garden (which Emily used yesterday) and my BFF Photoshop. The large two-tone gray rectangle is the house/porch, which opens to a deck surrounded by river rock pea gravel. There will be stepping stones leading to both the pool/pool deck and the outdoor shower. The gray thing in the top left is the shed, and not pictured to the right we’ll have a short fence (maybe with an arbor) into the dog area. It’s not exactly “to scale” (it makes our yard look larger than it is), but you get the idea.

*We love gift cards! To anyone looking to get Robert birthday gifts next month, Lowe’s gift cards are always appreciated! We were saving this one to do the kitchen floor, but with summer quickly approaching, the outdoor shower will be more appreciated. We’re hoping to get as much of the backyard done as possible so that we can take a bit of time off and just chill out at home (preferably in the lawn chairs from our design board).