DIY / Gardening / Home Projects

Backyard Entrance Project: Phase 1

I haven’t posted a home project in a while on the blog, so I’m pretty excited to share this recent one with you all.  While the end product has yet to be completed, we made enough progress last week to warrant a “Phase 1” post. 😉

The project involves the entrance to our back yard.  You see, our yard has been overrun with weeds for years now and no matter what we’ve done, they always seem to come back and most of them seem to start out towards the gate area.  This spring we concentrated a lot on the back part of the yard clearing out weeds and re-seeding a LOT, so now we thought it was time to tackle the main trouble area.  We’ve had enough of trying to deal with the pesky weeds and attempting to grow grass, so we decided to simply just get rid of it all.  Our hopes for the end product is to have a nice gravel entrance with a stepping stone path leading from the gate into the yard.  We don’t have the gravel or the stepping-stones yet, but in phase 1, we managed to get a lot of the grunt work done and we now have a space ready and waiting for some final touches.

It is at this point where I will say that Chris and I are not professional landscapers in any way, shape or form. Our methods of doing this job might not be the ‘right’ way to do things, but they worked for us and we’re extremely happy with what we’ve done so far.

So, I guess we should probably start with a ‘before’ photo of the area right?  Well that would be easy as pie if I could have actually remembered to take one!  Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I can’t track one down right now, but I make it my mission to try and find one before we finish phase 2. 😉

The first step, although a simple idea, was the most strenuous and the most tedious – WEED, WEED, and WEED some more.  We sprayed some weed killer on the area a few days before starting, and after about 2 hours of work last Thursday evening, we got this far.

About 90% of the weeds were gone, but my tummy was grumbling so it was quitting time for the day.

The following morning, we cleared out the rest of the area and were ready to make some real progress on the space.

With the weeds gone, it was time to try to tackle the sinking edge of our patio.  I’ve never really done any laying of patios in my lifetime, so it actually took a lot of courage to life up that first brick, but I did it. I began by lifting each brick from the edge and kind of flipping it directly behind its proper resting place just so that I’d know exactly where I had to put it back.

As I was lifting the bricks, it was VERY obvious as to why the patio was sinking so much. That reason starts with the letter ‘A’…. ANTS!  I already knew they hung out in this particular area because they always come running out when I try to weed the patio, but I never realized it was so bad until I lifted the bricks.  Probably about 6 bricks had these crazy looking ant hole/homes underneath them!

In attempt to combat the ant armies, Chris made a mixture of boiling water, salt and vinegar. He then poured this mixture all over the area killing the ants on contact (sorry any advocates!).  With the pests out of the way, I then proceeded to clean up the area and smooth it out while making it as level as possible so that the bricks could be laid back into place. (please ignore the weed mess on the rest of that patio.. one thing at a time!)

And of course, because I’m cool like that..but I’d like to say because I was too into the project, I forgot to take official after shots after I put the bricks back. But, I have good reason because putting the bricks back went hand-in-hand with our next step.

Our plan was to lay down landscaping fabric everywhere before covering it with limestone and then our final gravel.  Since we had already lifted the edge of the patio, we figured that we might as well tuck some landscaping fabric underneath them before we set the bricks back into place. This way the fabric will be held down on that edge all while hopefully preventing a regrowth of weeds in the cracks of the bricks.  In this shot below, you can get a good look of how we got the fabric tucked in nicely in pace while Chris demonstrates how we put the rest down. (Don’t mind the little monster ;))

With the edge of the patio covered, we needed to do something about separating our planned gravel space with the lawn.  To do this, Chris dug a nice little trench and we placed some stone that we picked up. Again, silly me didn’t get a great progress shot of laying that separation, but see the stone on the left? We made a mini wall with them and just like with the patio, we tucked the fabric underneath.

We continued to lay the fabric using rocks to hold it in place, because of course, it was a windy day.  Once we got a significant area covered, we tore into the limestone and started pouring it on top of the fabric making suck to get it tucked all around the newly placed bricks.

Once the limestone started going down, our vision was really starting to come to life and we were getting really excited.  With the main edges taken care of, we simply continued to lay the fabric, followed by limestone, until the entire area was covered.  We also made a similar brick wall at the gate for more separation, but of course this girl forgot to snap a photo.

Once all of the 14 bags of limestone were down, Chris channelled his inner Hulk and worked on pounding down the limestone and we were done for the day.

With about 4 hours of work, over the course of 2 days, Phase 1 was complete.

The project isn’t even complete yet and we are already TOTALLY in love with how much better it looks. The space just looks so CLEAN and big and bright now!

We are now on the hunt for the best deal we can find for some gravel.  Meanwhile, we have been letting mother nature help us out by raining down on our limestone to help set it in. The whole space is nice and solid now, ready for stones as soon as we get them. 🙂


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