brick by brick

Last summer we embarked on a project that was years in the making... or at least years in the planning.

We took our "back yard" gathering space from this...

To this!

And let me tell you this project was a BEAST!  We had been planning some sort of patio for this area for a number of year.  The only thing we knew was that we did not want it to be a poured concrete patio.  We (by we I mean my husband) researched a number of paver/brick options.  There are so many products that the color/style is unlimited.  We originally thought we would use some kind of concrete paver, mostly because of ease of installation and cost.  Then as we were whittling it down to just one or two options my husband came out of nowhere with bricks!  Real clay bricks... 3600 real clay bricks to be exact.

So on a overcast June weekend (isn't it always overcast in June?) we started in on the project.

We had the size we wanted in mind and a line was dug that would become a rough outline.

Then the simple job of skimming off the sod, simple because we could use a tractor...

Well out of my skill set and much harder than it appears... but good news was the sun was making an appearance!  Just in time for all of this to be finished with shovels.  Trying to get this somewhat level and have the grade be what my husband was looking for due to one side of this being higher than the other.

The next day was adding gravel and leveling again.

Then lots of watering of the gravel to settle it.

Then my husband went and picked up a rental "tamper" to pack the gravel down.  If I remember correctly this was a couple of passes to be sure the base was packed well.

More watering... and at this point you may notice the pallets of bricks places strategically around our planned patio area.

Each of these pallets had 600 or so bricks... which were all unloaded off of this trailer... by hand.  Yes, we touched every single one of these bricks to unload them.  Gloves were a must and I actually wore completely through my first pair at this point.

Next was sand... we were starting in this corner and have a poured concrete curb we will work against with the goal of bricks level with that curb.  There will be work to be down on the grass once we are finished as the grade isn't the same all across here.

Once we got started we realized that each of the 6 pallets were a different lot... think dye lot and yarn or fabric... Our fabulous idea of having the 6 pallets all around the area was a waste of time because we would need to mix the bricks throughout the patio so that we didn't end up with blocks of color!  Here you can see my lines of staging bricks to the left.  At this point my husband was laying the bricks along that curb and I was just keeping him in stock!

And have I introduced you to Hershey?  Our chocolate lab puppy?  She was not quite one year old at this point and really loved to lay in the nicely leveled sand that goes under the bricks.

It took all of a day to get to the this point... and did I mention we thought we'd have this knocked out in a long (3 day) weekend?  Uhm, that would be a no.

By our third day of the project I wasn't so happy about the sun, nor the fact that this patio is in the sun most of the day, which would be nice once it is done but not so nice when you are schelping bricks and laying them!

At this point, I too was laying bricks.  You can still see my staging for color/lot variation to the right.

And we layed bricks...

And more bricks...

And more bricks... it felt like this was never going to end.  I think I may have actually cried at this point one evening.

So I took a break and took some pretty, out of focus pictures so I could enjoy how nice it would look someday.

And then it was finally done... well mostly done... the curved corner and all of the cut bricks were still needing to be finished.  But we cleaned up all the pallets and moved them to one remaining pallet.

And I must say, I was thrilled with the outcome and the herringbone pattern we had chosen!  And can you see here what I mean about the different colors!  Believe me, there are 6 different colors!

At this point we took the next few weeks off before the edging was finished and a few more weeks before the ground was prepared and grass planted.  During that time we cleaned up/pressure washed a cement table we had acquired and added chairs and an umbrella.  I decided I liked the chippy painted concrete and we left it as is... I also decided to use metal chairs instead of the 3 benches we have.  They'll find a place in the gardens someday.

And a little surprise was added the other end of the patio... but you'll have to wait to hear more about that!

I spent many sunny afternoons and lunches here... even a dinner or two was enjoyed here last summer.

The flowers along this bed lined the patio and looked so good against the brick.

It really was just the right touch for an old house.

Here was the first part of August and the grass was filling in nicely.  This corner was curved.

And by late August this area looked so good and was used daily! Nothing like a pop of green grass against bricks!

I must say this was definitely one of our harder projects in recent years.  It took longer and was tough on this aging body!  I realize I'm not as young as I was when we moved here 15 years ago!  Moving and laying those bricks were even hard on my fingers as to pick one up I had just enough "hand span" to do it and I don't think my right thumb and fingers were back to normal for a few weeks!  And they are rough... I went through multiple gloves on this project, my husband gave up on using gloves and I don't think his fingerprints have come back yet!

But I am so looking forward to the patio and this view again this summer... one I will be able to enjoy as soon as the weather starts to warm up!

And this year a broom should be all I need to make this space ready for use!

Hope you are enjoying late winter/early spring,



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