So, 2017 has been quite the busy year. We thought we were going to install a fireplace, but decided to fix the backyard instead.
THIS is our yard.
So as of June 1, 2017, we’ve been in our new house 3 years. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Our backyard went downhill fast. When we moved in, we noticed the drainage was bad. The yard sloped uphill from the back door, so water always settled around the patio and to the left and right of the house. Add two active dogs to that mix and you know what you get right? MUD. Lots of mud. Our floors were always a disaster. We were constantly vacuuming, sweeping and mopping. It got real old, real fast. The builder came in a year later and put in a french drain around the house. It helped a lot, but it didn’t solve all of our problems. We could not grow grass, it was just too wet. Our patio was 10×13. Really? What are you supposed to do on that? Plus, we faced West. Can you say HOT?
My hubby and I talked extensively about what we wanted to do back there. I drew sketches, we priced materials and talked about whether it was something we could do ourselves. Now, you all know that we are pretty handy, but we had no real experience with large scale concrete, so we decided to talk to some professionals and get estimates for just expanding the patio. We wanted to tie into what we already had. No tearing up the existing patio, no hauling the dirt away since we needed it to fill the sunken yard. Pretty easy, dig, form, rock, tamp, pour, screed, broom finish. Nothing fancy, no stamping, or coloring. You would not believe the quotes we got. $5400.00 and $4300.00!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG. We either had to do it ourselves or forget about it. So, you know where this is going right? We knew the most expensive part of this project would be the concrete itself. We called around and finally settled on $920.00. That’s for 8 yards of concrete with fiber mesh added to it.
Along came this guy.
This was fun. I did a few rows, but since we just had it for a limited time (24 hours), I let my hubby do most of the digging. There was no going back after this. We had huge piles of dirt in the yard, and two dogs who seem to attract mud. Typical for us, we started doing this during the rainy spring season.
After smoothing things out, it was time to form the patio. Forming means using 2×4’s to outline the space that you want for the finished product. We were forming around the existing patio which was 10×13 and making it 24×23 ish. I say that because we had to adjust our dimensions due to unforeseen road blocks, namely large boulders under ground.
So, at this point, we had a lot of leveling to do. Shaving down high spots and filling in low spots. Then we had to pitch the forms. You want the patio to pitch away from the house so that when it rains, the water flows off. The standard is 1/4″ per foot. We put in a french drain at the very end of the new patio and tied it into the existing one which takes the water around the house and out to the street. More on that in another post.
All of this took awhile thanks to the rain. Once you get your pitch you can add more stakes and really make it secure so the concrete doesn’t move your form. We ran string lines diagonally and horizontal and did a lot of tamping, but in the end it looked like this.
We had five ton of rock delivered on our driveway, because the ground was too soft for the truck to drive around to the back. Either way, it wouldn’t have fit through the gate, so it would have been moved by wheelbarrow anyway. My poor hubby hauled all of that rock back to our yard. I felt so bad. We aren’t spring chickens either, so they weren’t even full wheelbarrows!
We filled and raked out the entire patio. Then we got the machine with the vibrating plate to really tamp down the rock. That thing is fun.
If you look at this picture above, you can see the form went right up to the house. In the next picture you will see where we added a little piece under the window to add a planter. That way no dirt splashes up on the house.
The ceremonial last wheelbarrow of rock!
Done. It’s pretty late at this point. Next day, compactor!
You can see here we added rebar to the existing patio to keep the new patio from shifting. We also added conduit for electrical for a future pergola. Things are really going good at this point, except for that darn rain. We could only schedule the concrete for a Saturday since we both work. Every Friday, they would call and cancel because of the impending rain. It usually ended up not raining! Grrr. It was so frustrating. So, in the meantime my hubby started cleaning out the giant dirt pile and filling up the sunken side yard. As you can see, we used the orange contractor fencing to block out the dirt from the dogs. It looked so nice, for like a month and a half.
IT WAS FINALLY POUR DAY!!!! See, there’s the truck. We were beyond excited at this point, and a little nervous. We had no idea what to expect.
We took part of the fence down, so the truck could drive right up. Luckily we’d had a week of no rain so the side yard and the neighbors yard were not harmed.
Now, from this point on, I didn’t get many pictures. Believe it or not, I was in the concrete, directing the chute and raking concrete into low spots etc.
We managed to find someone who knew a little about concrete to help us out on pour day.
It went so fast. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t get any pictures of the floating or smoothing or brooming, but if you really want to know how to do it, there are videos on YouTube or just shoot me a question in the comment box at the bottom. The truck arrived at 8am and I think he was backing out at 9:30am!!! Of course the hard part came next. All the floating, edging and putting on the broom finish, during the hottest part of the day. Believe it or not, we were done by like 12:30pm. We didn’t seal the concrete, since we planned on staining it at a later date, so we water cured it for several days. That just mean misting it lightly a few times a day for a couple of days.
Here are the cost breakdowns:
Concrete – $920.08
Track hoe rental – $169.90
Plate Compactor rental – $89.78
Lumber/exp. gap etc. – $290.58
Rock – $206.20
Tool rental – $34.98
Tools – $75.73
Electrical – $92.20
Misc – $21.19
Labor – $200.00
TOTAL – $2,079.45
So, what do you think of our backyard transformation? Please, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Also, let me know what you think of the new blog? I am loving it.
Please stay tuned for what’s up next. You won’t believe how this backyard turns out. Oh yeah, I’m also going to have a giveaway!!! Stay tuned for that.
Until next time…