Many older homes have concrete slabs that are broken and outdated and do not fit in with the new backyard design. The homeowners profiled here had to come to terms with what they had. They tried to plant sod around the existing concrete patio and that lasted a year or so. They tried seeding to keep the mud down and that too failed after a year. As a last resort they placed old bricks, pavers, and river rock in an attempt to keep the mud at bay and a path for the dogs to access the rest of the yard.
After three years, the homeowners had had enough and decided to take up the concrete and create a new living space. With a sledgehammer they broke the concrete into manageable pieces and removed them.
Although a homeowner could have done this project in a weekend they decided to solicit the help of Elizabeth Worley from Superwonderful Garden Design.
Before beginning a project such as this, it is advised to get three bids and to check references. Ask to see photos of past jobs or visit job sites. To get an idea of what you want, look through garden designs in magazines or garden books. Visit nurseries and rock outlets. Most of these businesses can give you great referrals. This is how our homeowners came across Elizabeth’s business. The rock outlets can also help you to decide what type of stone will work in your patio design.
The homeowners chose a Silver Falls stone that is native to the area. They were able to procure a ton of large-sized flagstone. A ton can cost anywhere from $300 to $500. Flagstone of regular thickness, about 1 1/2” to 2 1/2” covers about 100 to 120 sq ft.
One hammer: Novice
Five hammers: Experienced
Tools & Materials: Tape measure, 4’ level, pickax, sledgehammer (for cement
|Step One: With a pickaxe and spade loosen the soil. Remove about 4” to 5” of soil depending on the thickness of the stone. With a metal rake, rake the surface until smooth. Further raking was needed to create drainage away from the house.||Step Two: With a hand tamper compact the soil. A tamper can be rented at a rental yard.|
|Step Three: Apply 1/4 minus gravel and smooth with a level as shown. A 2×4 can also be used for spreading. One cubic yard covers about 160 sq ft to a depth of 2”.||Step Four: With the tamper pack the gravel so that it is about 1 1/2” deep.|
|Step Five: Lay masonry sand 1 1/2” deep. Smooth out with rake and level using a 2×4. You may need to add more sand to adjust for drainage.||Step Six: With your artistic eye figure out where to place the large stones. Use larger slabs in high-foot traffic areas. The stones were spaced 2″ to 3″ apart for planting purposes. In the large gaps, place smaller stones. If you need to break them, use a chisel. Always wear safety glasses. Be careful not to make them too uniform, you want to maintain a rustic look.|
|Step Seven: Adjustments are made to the placement of the stone and to make sure the stones are level. Lifting each stone, add handfuls of sand to mirror the contour of the underside of the rock. Smooth out the sand, lay the stone back down and twist into place. Make sure the stone does not tilt or wobble. It should fit tightly into the sand. Back fill with sand around the edges of the stone.||Step Eight: Check for overall levelness. Because of the inconsistencies of the stone more adjustments might be made.|
|Step Nine: Visit a local nursery to find what’s available. This homeowner chose Corsica mint because of the bright green contrasting color with the stone and the minty fragrance. It is able to take light traffic to medium traffic. With a hand trowel remove sand and gravel in the area where you will plant. After planting remove 1/2″ of sand from the top between stones and replace it with the conditioned soil to help the plants to spread. Space plants far enough apart to promote future growth.|