Patio project – take down that tree!

As you can imagine, planning a patio requires a lot of prep work – starting with clearing the area.  In the case of MH, this means removing a tree.  Specifically, a dead tree covered in vines (including poision ivy) but still a very large tree.  Here is the tree years ago before I went on my “killing” mission.

Tree covered in vines

Luckily, over the past year or so I have been on a mission to kill all things viney or with thorns.  This particular area has been sprayed (repeatedly) with brush killer and vines have been cut at the root.  Luckily, those things actually worked and we were able to get through many of the layers of vines – some of which had actually leapt across to the roof! 

After some brush killer and vine cutting
After some brush killer and vine cutting

What an eyesore!  Luckily, with Laurie’s patio plan, the tree had to go and we had Ray and my dad to help take it down.

Grateful for my dad - he can handle the big chain saw
Grateful for my dad – he can handle the big chain saw
The interior of the tree was hollow and at one point we could see through it!
The interior of the tree was hollow and at one point we could see through it!

With the tree gone, the area was ready to prep for the new (gigantic) patio.  Woo hoo!  First, we started by tilling the soil.

Pre till
Pre till


Post till
Post till


Then we tamped the soil to compact (for the base).

post ground tamping
Post ground tamping 

Now we are ready for the next steps – preparing the base!

Just a Few Stepping Stones….

“Hey, Ray…..Think you’d be up to putting down a few stepping stones when you are out at the hall in May?”

That is the exact text that I sent to poor Ray (and by extension, his wife, Bobby). He says he is going to frame that text. I think I’m going to have it put on a plaque and dedicate the entire patio to them. And yes, it is ALL MY FAULT. I own it and I will say it again and put it in writing. IT. IS. ALL. MY. FAULT. There, Kelly, feel better?

Start of patio

Kelly had been eyeing the side yard up for the past couple years. She wanted to fence it or put up a large dog run so that we could just open the back door and let the dogs out into a safe enclosure without having to constantly walk them around the property. I kept resisting (fencing costs too much; a dog run might blow over; it would be unattractive etc.) Then this year, we purchased these really cool topiary dividers from an auction (what else is new, right?) and started daydreaming about where to put them. We both eventually came around to “wouldn’t it be cool to use them to make a small secluded outdoor area for us and guests to enjoy the serenity of the sunsets?” Then we considerately thought of Charles, the lawn guy and thought that it would make his job more difficult to get around these things, so maybe if we had a more permanent area such as a small deck or patio and use these as privacy or shade, that would work. Pricing out lumber vs. pavers vs. stepping stones, we determined that a patio was the more cost effective way to go. Just a small patio outside the back door for a couple chairs and maybe a table (about 100 sq. feet). Then I realized that well, that will look silly and so small; we should expand it to the other back door so that we can eventually open both doors and really increase the flow of the house; let’s do this patio not as a square, but more of a rectangle. What’s a little more sand, gravel and a few more stepping stones? (about 250 sq. feet). Then, I think….well, might as well expand it back to a square and cover the entire area from the back of the house to the apartment area. A nice, easy square (800 sq. feet). Ok. That’s good. Let’s stop there.

Patio expansion

But wait, there’s more…..look at that great flow we have from the house, but the porches are being rebuilt this year and wouldn’t it be great if our guests could walk down a couple steps from the front porch right onto the patio and have a little walkway around? That’s just another 220 sq. feet and it makes so much sense! Hmmm….you know, if we just pull that out a little more and expand the entire patio another 6 feet out or so, then it makes so much more sense; for a party, we could use the porches, guests could walk down from the porch or the back front hall door or out the back side door onto the patio and we could have an awesome area for chairs, tables, events etc. So then that extra 6 foot pull out? That added an extra 300 sq. feet which brought us to….yes class? Anyone been following my girl math here? That brings us to 1300 sq. feet, give or take. And that, my friends, is how a little patio turned into, as one FB friend noted, a patio larger than some people’s houses.

Stage 3 of patio start

What have we been up to you ask?

A few things 🙂  First, over the winter we worked on raising funds for upcoming projects.  That meant making and acquiring more items and selling them.  As you can imagine, most of the projects at the hall are expensive and while we are willing and able to put in manual labor, materials and professionals still come with a cost.  In order to offset these costs, we started to buy things at auction and create/fix up items with the intention of selling.  Mostly we take our items to local consignments shops but we also use ebay and craigslist.  Here are a few examples:

Chair we no longer need
Repurposed footstool


Tutu puff ball light (handmade)
map shade
Lampshade with map (visible when turned on)
Euro pillow (reversible) – silk

You never know what kind of crazy items we might find or make 🙂 

We also discussed the plans for this year – Laurie has decided it is to have the porches redone (thanks to Denny) and build a patio!  Here is where the patio will be going:


Side of house (moving towards back)
Long ago “before”


Progress has been made – additional posts to come 🙂

We hope everyone had a wonderful winter and is enjoying this gorgeous spring!