Milwaukee Brown Girl Renovates…..the Backyard

Backyard ProjectIt is summer in Milwaukee. Finally. And I happen to love the summer. I have so many fond memories of my summers as a kid at my grandmother’s house. There was always someone to play with and there was always something to do. We literally spent every single daylight second outside.  It is what kids used to do. We rode bikes. We played tag. We laid in the grass dreaming up stories that the clouds played out across the sky. But we were outside. Every non-rainy day, all summer long.

Now I have a job. I have bills. I have responsibilities. I have not one valid reason to sit outside all day. Except, as I stated before I love summer. I love the sun. I love the beauty that only nature can provide.

In my nostalgia I knew that this summer would have to be different.  This summer I would build a patio.  A simple little patio to allow me to sit outside, soak up the sun and reminisce about those lovely days of the past (with a glass of wine, of course).

Not for me to run and play on but for me to sit and enjoy the warm summer breezes.  You see I am now too old to run. I am now the grandmother.   So this summer I decided to take on the endeavor of my first major home improvement project and build a patio myself.

I started my project at Menards using their project estimator kiosk.  This kiosk is a lifesaver for a novice like myself. It helped me plan out every single detail of my backyard renovation.  This fanatic tool  let me know which materials I needed and even gave me the exact prices.  Once I was finished designing it I simply printed it out and took it to the register.  I had the materials delivered to my home and so began the work.

The steps outlined by Menards as follows:

  1. Step 1: Remove sod. Excavate the installation area to approximately 6″ larger on all sides than the actual finished size.
  2. Step 2: Prepare and compact base. Install paver base and compact to a finished thickness of 4″ for patios and walkways and 8″ for driveways. Paver base should be installed in 4″ increments. Prepare the base by firmly compacting the soil. Place 2″ of paver base and thoroughly compacted.
  3. Step 3: Screed sand. Layout 1″ diameter pipe on base then pour 1″ of play sand over compacted base and screed the play sand by dragging a 2″x4″. Level the surface in both directions with a level board over pipe.
  4. Step 4: Install paver edge. Install paver edge around the entire project 3″ from edge of compacted aggregate.
  5. Step 5: Lay pavers. Lay paver stones in desired pattern.
  6. Step 6: Compact and spread sand. Compact the installed pavers with a plate compactor in both directions at least two passes. Once compacted, spread play sand on the installation and sweep into joints. Compact again to ensure that all joints are completely full. Remove any remaining sand from on top of project. You can substitute paver locking sand in place of play sand to inhibit weed growth.

This entire process from start to finish took about three weeks, which was two weeks longer than I thought it would take.  So this list is quite a bit simpler than it actually is to complete the patio project. There was a ton of digging leveling and pouring of sand.  I physically moved over 127 pavers, at least twice until they fit in perfectly. I poured more sand than I have ever seen in my life and I tampered until my arms were sore. The ending results however were well worth it.

I am now finally able to enjoy the warm summer days, sitting on my patio watching my grandson run around it until he passes out in a dizzy euphoric daze.



Milwaukee Brown Girl Renovates….

I own a 1937 brick colonial, that is absolutely beautiful. It sits in the heart of my beloved city, in an historic neighborhood. But as is the case with many older homes, it needs some work. Some major and some minor. 1937 Colonial

I knew when I purchased the home that my undertaking would be massive. I also knew that I would be doing most of the work myself. For one thing, I believe in the hands on sweat equity approach and for two I am a project manager by profession, so the thought of my home being my new project was thrilling to me.

So for the next few posts I will chronicle my progress on renovating my Milwaukee home.