A New Brick Patio and a Back Yard Tour

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that the past week has been spent on this brick patio. I’m so happy to say that it’s finally gone from this:

To this!

I found the bricks on Craigslist, the story is they’re about a century old and from an old schoolhouse. For $1.25 per brick, I snagged 1700 for the patio and we used nearly every one. For a quick rundown on materials and method:

My dad had leftover crushed red granite that we used for the base, as well as this sand base. Jacob borrowed a Bobcat skid loader and leveled out the gravel, then dumped the sand. We raked it out and used 10 foot PVC pipes and a 2×4, making sure things were as level as possible. It’s not exactly perfect, but after tamping it a few times the waves are subtle and the patio looks great. We purchased some plastic edging and 10″ metal stakes to keep all the bricks in place. Technically we should have done this before laying bricks, but we were unsure of the layout so we saved it for last. Then we filled in the edges with more sand, did our best to evenly grade out the surrounding ground, and called it a day. Here’s what we’re greeted with when we walk out onto the back porch:

SO much nicer than a mud pit! We are loving it. We decided on a basketweave pattern because it was simple to lay while still adding some interest. After laying the main rectangle area, we had a brief debate on whether to make a smaller rectangle attached (the “mushroom”) or detached (the “T”). Ultimately we decided on detaching it a bit and making a small pathway leading to the fire pit area.

On each side of the patio we made raised planter boxes with some cinder blocks. I still need to add more dirt, and plant flowers in the block holes. But, first I need a break!

I did manage to plant my roma and jalapeno seedlings. Not sure what will be on the shady side, but I’ll worry about that later.

We’ll also need a load of dirt, and some grass seed this fall. Right now it kind of looks like a sand box exploded. So…moving on.

We’re leaving a big chunk open for Charlie to run circles. Seriously. It’s her new favorite thing to do right now. As well as “jump like a frog”.

The dining area gets a lot of good shade. Though I’m not thrilled with the table, it looks too similar to the bricks. I’m hoping to sell it so I can build something new. We also took the time to finish up the deck steps, and they sure do look nice! The railings need a few more slats to make them kid-friendly, but for now we’re calling it done.

The deck needs just a bit more love until it’s “finished”. I’m envisioning a u-shaped sectional on the left there, and moving the tractor-seat barstools to the right. Plus securing the lattice and letting the grapes and blackberry vines grow up will really make it look nice.

So while it doesn’t necessarily look like a million bucks, it does at least look like a few hundred thousand πŸ˜‰ We did it entirely ourselves (and a lot was on my own during nap time), didn’t spend a fortune (we splurged a bit on the salvaged brick, but saved a lot on gravel and sand for about $2500), and are thrilled with our new outdoor living space.

Now for a quick tour of the rest of our mess. We fenced in roughly a quarter acre to make a yard. So far we’ve mostly just done this patio space and a bit in the front yard, but we have big plans for the future. Here’s the rundown:

To the larger side of the patio, we have our chicken coop and the main back yard section. I’m planning on moving my raised beds to the sun-shine area behind the clump of trees. I already planted a satsuma there that seems to be taking alright.

If you turn just a bit toward the house, you’ll see the rest of the back yard. Right now you can see what we’ve been using as a drive way to unload materials and move dirt with the Bobcat. Hopefully once we add in a bit more dirt and toss out some seed this should fill in to look more like a yard and less like a road. We’re toying with the idea of running a short fence from that corner of the house back to the fence where the coop is, mostly to keep the dogs corralled. Not sure if we’ll do that or not.

Back to the other side of the patio, we have a small clearing where Jacob wants to build a small “man hut”. Basically a large 10×14 shed to act as a retreat and to store all his hunting stuff. I’d love to do something with salvaged materials, and see if we can make it self-sustaining. I have a feeling he’ll dig his heels in if I mention a green roof…

Once we get this area mowed and filled in a bit (and level those rocks), I think it will be a nice lawn area for kids and pups. Maybe set up some washer boards, cornhole, and horseshoes? Behind the rain barrel I used a fence remnant to keep the dogs out of my raised beds. This was a bad idea. The location is pretty tight, and without dogs, the plants are without protection. I was raided by a deer last week and it decimated my okra and pole beans as well as knocked over one of the sides of the beds. So I’ll be moving them next season to the more open section of yard, where I’ll put the dogs on deer detail.

That melon patch has really taken off! But my poor bed. Luckily nothing in this one was harmed, and my bell peppers and carrots seem to be okay. Though my tomato plants have yet to flower, anyone else having this problem? It’s my very first garden, so I’m on a severe learning curve. Perhaps I let the tomato plants get too leafy and large and now they don’t want to produce?

Heading back around the house, you see the “driveway” bald patch, and our really nice grove of trees. This is where I want to build a play house and swing set for Charlie and Caroline. It’s shaded all day and just looks magical in the afternoons.

From there you move on to the front yard.

We still need grass, and I should do some weeding in the rock beds. I planted two apple trees along the fence line to add some shade and fruit in the future. The trough planters have really taken off too!

Here we have zucchini. I had quite a few more plants but a digger ransacked them and I lost about 5 of them πŸ™ So far I’ve been able to self-pollinate and harvest one though, and it was delicious! Best zucchini I’ve ever eaten. I’m holding out hope that I’ll get more later this summer.

This trough is a mix of winter squash and cowpeas. I just started seeing pods on the peas, and have pollinated and gotten excited about some budding squash. Judging by all the baby female flowers I’m seeing, I should have quite the stockpile! I have lettuces growing in the wagon, though I’ll probably save those for the chickens. I didn’t think through the whole “rusty wagon” thing when I planted them, and I’m not sure I want to ingest any bad chemicals from it. The small obscured pots are housing herbs.

Last but not least is my leaning tower of rain water. We used the last of the house fund to get gutters, and I had them lead them into two large rain barrels. And it’s been awesome! So far they’ve never run out, and even though we’ve had a pretty rainy spring, we don’t get a whole bunch of rainfall here in central Texas. A lot of this is morning dew. It’s definitely saved me a lot of water. I use about 10 gallons a day watering the plants, and it’s a relief to know I’m not raiding the water table to do it. Of course I need to do some freshening up, and plant something other than strawberries in that cauldron. They really haven’t been doing so hot.

So, that’s all of my rambling for today! We still have a ton of work to do to make the yard look nice. But we’re getting there. Every week we have a little more progress. One day I may even call it finished. That may be in five to ten years though!




6 thoughts on “A New Brick Patio and a Back Yard Tour

  1. for your back deck railings on the stairs, would it be terrible to just use more of the wire fencing that you used on the rest? it would give a nice cohesive look, and the babies would still have something to hold on to as they descend.

    1. That’s actually what I’m gunning for, but my husband seems to think cutting it at an angle will be difficult, and it would be simpler to just add in 2×4’s. I may just try the panel myself and see how it goes.

  2. Holy cow, I thought we had a lot of work to do in our yard. This was a total blank slate! Very impressive amount of work you have done so far. Way to go! It’s really shaping up!

    1. Thank you Jennielee! And yes, it’s a total blank slate. It was just rough brush when we built, and we haven’t done much with landscaping it yet. So many weeds, sticker burrs, low spots, and more. It will definitely take a while to turn it into something great

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