Posts Tagged ‘patio’

after 8 wks of pondering

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Remember way back at the beginning of December when Land Design Associates was working on the front walkway? While here, they also dealt with this ugly crack in the concrete that I showed you before…

crack in front of steps




















Yep, that one. There was much conjecture about what we would do about it. After considering the options, David settled (surprisingly) on the idea of insetting beach pebbles like the ones we have around our house…

our beach pebble border




















They look pretty nice when you clean the dust off…

beach pebbles up close




















So we crossed our fingers and let the boys go at it. There was an impressive display of dust…

concrete getting scored




















An incredible amount of sledge hammering…

concrete getting pounded




















The prying up of amazingly stout concrete…

prying up the concrete




















And eventually there was a welcome mat-sized spot to fill with new concrete…

getting filled with new concrete












Topped off by concrete with a dark stain to match the beach pebbles…

topping off with stained concrete




















Followed by the beach pebbles themselves, getting their tops as level as possible…

leveling stones




















Then, voila! Beach pebble welcome mat where there once was a crack!

stone welcome mat finished




















So it doesn’t look too bad, right? I mean, sure, it’s a little gloppy in spots (especially along the front curve. But in theory we can rough that out.)

a closer look














ugh, a new crack!












I just couldn’t deal.

All that sawing and pounding action took its toll, I guess. Granted, the new crack is much smaller than the old crack. But water will work its way in over time and freezing and thawing will surely make that crack bigger. Yay.

I’m not going to think about that.


hmm, not too bad i guess





















back to the front

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Well, we did it. Managed to squeeze one final outside project into 2011: the front walkway. I didn’t feel strongly about having one but David did, so we enlisted Jim Egan at Land Design Associates to create something that would tie to the rest of the hardscaping he’s done for us.

Here’s what Jim came up with…













Basically three terraced levels with steps in between. In his drawing, the top level (far left) shows the original concrete walk that fronts our concrete entryway steps and walls being replaced with granite. That’s this area…





















There was also talk of facing the concrete steps and walls with granite but that just doesn’t make sense. I think the concrete is integral to the design of the house. And there’s nothing wrong with any of it other than that stupid crack (under the black mat in the photo) at the bottom of the steps. So we’re keeping it as is and adding below it down to the street level. We realize that a granite walkway will never match the old concrete but think we can make it work.

So, our slight revision to Jim’s initial idea looks something like this (click to biggify)…

fronthill2 | rough drawing












The crew came and made short work of it. First they dug out the hillside and leveled out bases for the two terraced parts of the walkway…













That involved moving a lot of soil…





















I added a good amount of that soil to other parts of the slope after they left, shovel by shovel, and then sculpted it as I saw fit. But I digress. The crushed base went down and the steps were heaved into place…





















Then the first granite terrace went in…





















Followed by the second terrace…













And Bob’s yer uncle!

We’re left with a hillside of disturbed soil and it’s too late in the season for plants to take root. So once again, I staked biodegradable Curlex down to hold the dirt in place…

























I rolled erosion control blanket and pounded stakes until almost midnite in a mad rush to beat the ground freezing the next day. But it’s done now and I won’t touch it again until April. Looks much better, no? Remind yourself what it used to look like.

And the crack? I’ll show you another time.


it’s officially pond!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Late Friday afternoon it was official: we have achieved pond. Plumbing, a go. Pump and filter, chugging away. Water, cold as heck because we’ve had no sunshine. Ya think that would stop me from getting pond plants the very next day?

I made the trip here…

paradise water gardens sign




















to Whitman, MA on a recommendation. They told me they didn’t have many plants left this “late” in the season, that all the best waterlilies were snapped up in April.

tons o’ water plants












But they had tub after tub of fantastical things to choose from! So, of course, I did.

Here’s the little bit I’ve learned from reading about waterlilies in New England: the flowers last about a day; the tropicals have the best scent, most brilliant colors and the most abundant blooms until about November when you have to overwinter them indoors (or replace them yearly); the hardies are still pretty amazing to look at and some are fragrant. So this is what I got to start with.

A day-blooming tropical:

key largo tropical waterlily |

key largo tropical waterlily |













And a night-blooming tropical:

red flare waterlily |

red flare waterlily |













A really pretty hardy:

firecrest waterlily |

firecrest waterlily |













The hardy Pink Princess lotus I cannot find a photo of. Bumma.

I snagged a dwarf Egyptian papyrus:

dwarf egyptian papyrus |

dwarf egyptian papyrus |
















An umbrella palm papyrus I’ve had for years will go in the pond:

umbrella palm papyrus |

umbrella palm papyrus |
















I’ll be adding to this, I’m sure. Bix votes for cattails. When the chlorine dissipates in the pond we’ll also look into fish. Bix votes for frogs.

almost pond

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Pleased to report that our moat now has bridges across it…

the bridge is in!



















Even though we argued over granite vs. wood, it looks pretty good, no?

finished pond and patio — with bridges!












The joints of the granite cap around the edge of the pond are now mortared…

wet mortar in the joints of the granite pond wall cap



















And thanks to David and Bix, the pond got cleaned out. First they sprayed down the liner and gave it a scrub with the broom…

the boys spray down the pond liner



















Then they used a ShopVac to suck up the last of the bilge water…

shop vaccing the liner



















Like a big ol’ bucket of the rankest Earl Grey ever…

yuckwater for dumping



















And then it was time to start filling the pond! How long do you think it takes to fill about 3,300 gallons?

pond filling begins with a trickle




















In one hour, the water was up to 6″…

6 inches one hour later



















We’re only going to 2′ so you can do the math. Will take a little under 4 hours when we finally finish filling it. A few issues with the plumbing that need resolving so we had to pause at 11.5″. Not officially Pond yet. Rats.


There was splashing. It was 90 degrees, after all. Godzilla, Mrs. Godzilla and Minya (Godzilla Jr.) regarded the proceedings with approval.

godzilla family watches


shades of deliverance

Friday, May 27th, 2011

So is the koi pond up and running yet? Uh… well, not quite yet. What we have right now is more of a festering swamp than a pond.

our lovely swamp

The crew pumped out most of the rainwater a few days ago but we still have this mosquito-friendly bit left to deal with. Better get on that. Before the hillbillies show up.

almost embarrassing

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Going outside this afternoon to find the lower patio done is like winning Lotto. For the second time in two days.

lower patio done

Crazy, right?

progress report: whoa, dude!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

So what’s new? Let’s see… feelings of inadequacy. Doubts we can live up to our unbelievably fabulous new patio. And ideas for ways to regain some of that white trash aesthetic we’re so accustomed to. Yup, the upper patio is pretty much done.


The boys from Land Design Associates weathered two damp, blustery days to make it happen. I love you guys. They raked out a thick layer of crushed stone base and stone dust, then tamped it down good…


They compacted the heck out of it…


FYI, that’s a screed board being dragged across the surface to make it smooth. Screed. Not scrod. Does not smell like fish.


And then the granite started to go down…


And then more (torrential downpour break!)…


And then just like that, all the stone was in. The seams were filled in with stone dust…


And the whole thing was swept clean. The rectangle by the railing will be the home of the corten steel grill/firepit. More on that another time…


With the patio essentially done, it was time to clean up the yard. The crew raked out the soil and graded the slope so that it wouldn’t be so steep around the pond’s edge…


And then our gorgeous, boulder-free soil was once again revealed.


So this is what we’re left with: a supa-dope patio that looks like it goes with the house and a clean slate for pond-side plants and lawn. (Click to biggify for the full dope…)


Before the crew cleared out of the back area, they brought in two 5′ granite steps for the top of the yard…


I’ve been picturing this little spot as the perfect shady vantage point from which to gaze upon our swank new kingdom from some yet-to-be-determined bench…


Funny. This spot is considerably higher than the pond but the camera just can’t capture that. What it also can’t capture is how psyched I am that the boys also added 4′ stone steps out front where that tree came down last week…


Thank you! New trees coming soon. Also coming soon: the lower patio. But for now, the machinery sleeps.


progress report: cap done!

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Yesterday the crew from Land Design Associates came and knocked that pond into shape, finishing off the wall with a granite cap. I’ll make this quick so we can get to the big reveal.

First, they trimmed back the liner, scalloping the edge like it was a giant rubber doily. I assume that’s so the mortar can adhere the cap stones to the cinder block, right?

the rubber liner gets trimmed back

There were clouds of stone dust…

pond capstone cutting

Much hefting, measuring, slathering of mortar and leveling…

pond capstone mortaring

And then…

pond cap done!


no really, it’s DONE!

Oooooooh! Aaaaaaaaaaaah! Now we let the mortar harden up and pretend like we’re not already lighting the grill and mixing up a pitcher of sangria.


oops, not gneiss?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

You may or may not find this amusing. Remember how late last year David and I deliberated over the choice of stone for the patios and pond surround? We went with a very light, clean-looking granite…

grey granite closeup

At the time, we just assumed it hailed from somewhere nearby. Perhaps The Granite State, New Hampshire? It could also have come from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and New York, which all have granite quarries.

Igneousramuses, we should have thought to ask.

So would you like to venture where our very affordable granite was born? Go ahead, click to biggify…

our stone is from china, what the?!

CHINA. Doh! It was shipped from the other side of the planet and it’s still more affordable than local granite. How do they do that? Argh.

Will it look fabulous when the patio’s all done? Yup. Will we feel just a little bit guilty for being planet killers? Yup. At least until we polish off the first pitcher of celebratory margaritas. Schistheads.

Here, listen to this with me and maybe we’ll both feel better. (circa 1961 and part of the COMPLETELY GENIUS Ballads for the Age of Science record collection I found for Bix)

even readier

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Tuesday the boys from Land Design Associates swung by with yet more stone for the two patios…

arriving with more stone

It waits in the wings, so to speak, until the pond liner is in…

and even more stone

Before they left, they rolled back the thermal blankets…

rolling up blankets

First time in four months that we can see the ground…

clear upper patio, ready to go

Relieved to know it’s still there.