Patio Project with Sweetstone Pt. 3

   Spring is here and I've been busy working in the back garden.  While not all the tasks were specifically related to the patio installation, everything ties together.  (I'll need to finish task A. before I can get to task B. I'm sure you get it!)  Among those tasks I really needed to deal with the drainage issues.

   Our lawn has always been soft in the Winter months, so I knew I would have some drainage issues and sure enough, the first rain storm after the demo, our back yard was flooded! This is all compounded by having just had some heavy equipment in the back yard, compacting the soil.  I wish I would have taken photos of the LAKE!  I'll get into one of my solutions later in the post.

    I thought about the space for a long time, visually how I would like to see the patio. I would like it to be one with the landscape.  Not a square, but it could have some straight lines.
My ideas changed quite a bit. Kevin and Teresa of Sweetstone would give me input and we really talked a lot about the project. When we settled on a plan we were all excited about, Kevin drew it out. His drawing gave me goosebumps!

We set the forms and wrapped the boulders the day before the pour. 8" forms to keep the gravel in place under the patio. The concrete was to go below the final grade of the soil.

 For the curved sections we used composite decking material.  It's flexible and sturdy!
Wrapping the boulders saved us from needing to clean any concrete off of them.
  Here's my hubbies Cousin Tom.  Tom has worked a lot with concrete and offered to help us with the project.  For a guy on vacation, he seemed really excited about it.  I'm glad he was here, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around how to build the forms for the crawl space.  He made some wonderful forms and was such a big help.  Thank you Tom for helping out!

 Rebar was added to the outer edge for strength and wire mesh over through the whole slab.

 These 2x4x12's were set at final grade to help us screed the concrete.  They were pulled out while smoothing and finishing the pour.

Now on to the much anticipated pour day.  Nov. 3rd 2018. 
   Our friend Gerardo who also has great concrete skills, joined in the fun.  Great guy! I'm sure glad he helped out, we really needed him!

Tom, Gerardo, Kevin and Teresa waiting for the concrete truck

    I had been watching the weather, and the reports were not looking good.  We were considering ways we could tarp off the site.  One way to speed up the pour was to have the concrete pumped into the back yard instead of carting each load by wheelbarrow.  This would save on man power as well.  

I was so anxious when the trucks pulled up... Like I had WAY too much caffeine!!!


 Teresa got in on the action placing the concrete. 
At this point we had to stop pouring and catch up with some screeding and smoothing.

Teresa, tapping the edges of the form to force any cavities in the concrete to fill on the edges

Kevin, using the bull float to smooth everything out

At this point, it was time to start cutting in the control joints.

   Control joints or contraction joints are places you anticipate the concrete cracking. As the concrete dries, it can shrink causing it to crack. So instead of letting it crack in random places this is our way forcing it to crack where we want it to. Concrete will also expand and contract as it heats and cools. This can create unwanted cracks as well.  Our spacing for our joints were based off anticipation of where it might crack, and no further than 8- 12 feet apart for a 4" think slab. 
We set out a 12' board to get our joints straight.

Gerardo, setting our guide boards

Cutting in the joints
   It was a cooler day so it took some time for the slab to set enough to get all the smoothing done. Once we had it roughly smoothed we started seeding in some extra aggregate. 

   I had people texting me who were looking at the forecast with rain storm approaching.  The closer we got the calmer we all became but we just weren't there quite yet and I was starting to feel drops!!

 Finally it was time to spray the concrete surface retardant.

   This slab was to be exposed aggregate and the retardant slows the curing on the surface of the slab.  This allows you to simply wash the slab the next day to expose your final surface.

And then we placed the cover until the next day!

Here is what it looked like the following day.

Now the Scrubbing

Unwrapping the boulders was really exciting!
Oh, look at how happy my Echium were...

Now, Jump to today.

Like I said, I would talk about the drainage solutions.

I decided I wanted a functioning dry creek bed that would move water away from the patio area as well as pick up any water from trouble areas in the landscape.  The dry creek bed is lined with fabric and has a 3" perforated pipe that flows to a 50 gal.  dry well.   I wanted it to be a feature of the garden instead of hiding it.  River rock fills the dry creek bed and small grey basalt boulders line the edges. The beds in this area are built up from grade to help improve growing conditions for the plants I want in this area.

The dry creek bed picks up water from the patio and creates a nice separation from the new small crevice garden

I'm still working out this area

  I'm beyond happy with the patio and Kevin and Teresa of Sweetstone  were so helpful and wonderful during the whole project! At times I was on edge and feeling overwhelmed and they really helped calm and encourage me and the whole process. Their ideas where so wonderful, true artists in the trade! 

Kevin and Teresa are wonderful friends of mine.  We worked together at Winterbloom where they were tremendous assets to the company. Kevin on Install and Teresa with me gardening.  When they left Winterbloom there was a hole in my heart, but I am so happy we have remained good friends. (Big bonus that we get to work together from time to time.)

Thanks for following!!


  1. I was a nervous wreck following along with this even though I'd already seen some of it on Facebook. Concrete just makes me nervous. I love it, but hate working with it. Your end result looks just fabulous! Nice work!

  2. What a journey you guys went on. It all came out beautifully, and a creative solution, too. Love it, and am looking forward to seeing your garden over the years! Congrats on an amazing job well-done.

    1. Thank you very much. Yes, I'm beyond happy with the patio. Still so much to do around the house...

  3. Your boulders set into the patio are such a great detail. (Great tip on covering boulders with plastic!) ALWAYS interested in drainage ideas done well, and I like how you were motivated by that as well--making it a feature. Fun to follow along with Kevin & Teresa of Sweetstone (thanks for the intro) and your bro-in-law's cousin...looking pretty darn happy! You did such a great job, Dale. Excited for you!

    1. Thank you, Alyse. It's a little tricky removing the plastic. I cut it as close as I could to the patio then used a torch to melt any I couldn't remove from in between the concrete and the boulders.

  4. Whoa, Dale - I love how you documented the whole process, and with such great photos, too! It was nerve racking to follow along - your anxiety was contagious. Great post, and even greater project. Well done - it looks fantastic! Although the drone photos I've seen are drool worthy, I really hope to visit in person this year.

    1. Thank you so much, Anna! I can't wait to have you over this year. Hoping to have a garden blogger party this summer.


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