How to Lay a Brick Patio

A brick patio is an attractive and long lasting feature that becomes a center point of any backyard garden. It can also make an attractive summer project as whilst it’s actual construction doesn’t need a particularly high level of expertise or training, it is certainly extremely hard (and extremely satisfying!), labor-intensive work.

It of course depends somewhat on the planned size of course and also the ease of access to the work site, type of soil etc. But with a band of hard working assistants you could reasonably expect to complete the project in a few weekends worth of work. Doing it by yourself it can be the perfect project to take small chunks out off spread out over an entire summer. Its up to you!

There are many different types of patios, but follow these tips and you’ll be happily sat out sipping cool lemonade on your own patio in no time at all.

Plan

Cannot stress this enough! The work that will go into constructing your patio will be pretty intense – you’re going to be moving potentially tons of material.

So you don’t want to get halfway through the job before you realize you’ve started working in a really stupid place!

During planning consider the drainage of the ground, if there is any slope and if there will potentially be any obstacles in the soil such as tree roots.

Make sure you’re building in area you’ll be happy to sit in once the patio is finished. For example, if you’re a sun lover and looking forward to catching some rays on the patio then don’t build it in a shady spot.

Finally, decide on the pattern you want the bricks to be laid in.

Materials

The stone surface of the patio will get the most attention – but it’s what’s underneath that will count the most!

Landscape fabric is the bottom layer, going into the patio hole and being filled up with the next layers.

Gravel will provide the bulk of the patio’s body. Use Class V Limestone or mixture of recycled concrete and Asphalt. The material may vary in your region, but a good stone supplier in your area will be able to advise.

Finally, your paving bricks for the surface level and, if you’re using them, rocks for the borders.

Dig a Hole!

The hard work starts now my friend! Get yourself a shovel, and wheelbarrow and dig out a hole.

For a flush patio (which is what you should aim for) plan to remove 10 inches of dirt and topsoil. That may not sound like a lot… but you’ll be surprised!

You may want to consider, during planning, what to do with all that excavated earth – a raised planter bed perhaps?

Fill the Hole!

So that huge hole that probably took you days of backbreaking labor to dig out… well it’s time to fill it!

But first, lay the landscape fabric in the hole, leaving an extra six inches or so of material at the sides.

In stages, fill and tamp down a fill of gravel up to about 7 8 inches, then add 1-inch of the sand on top. Tamp it and flatten it and ensure it is completely flat so you are left with a solid base for your patio.

Lay The Surface

Lay your rock border if you’re using, adjusting the depth of sand to meet the different rock sizes, limiting gaps between rocks to no more than 1 inch.

Finally, lay the bricks to the pattern you decided in the planning stage. Fill the sanded area with as many full bricks as possible, then cut the remaining bricks with masonry saw to fill any awkward gaps in the edges. Run over with a compactor or a roller to push the bricks down into the sand level.

Sweep sand into the gaps between the bricks then sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful new patio!

Tree Planting Made Easy

With Earth Day quickly approaching, it always reminds me of the good old days when I was in grade school.

As the students would leave for the day, the school would hand out tree seeds or tree sprouts to each child on their way out the door to walk to the buses. The idea was to promote growth and do your part to keep the world “greener.” What a cool idea. Most of us do not think of the benefits of planting trees, but trees are an excellent source of oxygen. When our bodies release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trees take that in.

When a tree “exhales” – it releases the ever-important oxygen that we need. See the cycle, here? So, in short, trees are vital.

 

Planting trees does not require a lot of work, but it does require some sort of advanced planning. Having experience with planting sprouts and seeds, I can assure you that the only thing you will want to be sure of is how much room the tree, at its full size, will need for growth. Some trees grow tall and thin while others spread out as they grow. If you plant one that will grow to be extremely tall, you will also want to make sure that you do not plant your tree sprout or seeds near a home or structure. When the tree begins to grow, it could potentially cause damage to the home or structure’s foundation as its roots spread and branch out, therefore you’d have to take out the tree.

Repairs to a home or structure can become quite costly, so it is always best to avoid these places whenever possible.

 

When you plant a sprout, it will start out with a little bag attached to the base of the sprouting. This bag protects the roots during transporting and may even have some well fertilized soil in it, to maintain the sprouts nutrient base.

When you pick your location, you will need to dig your hole 6-8” below the grass. Another important thing to consider is the ‘soil’ in which you are digging into. If the soil is mostly clay-based, you will need to add addition soil, like Miracle-Gro, which is high in nutrients for the sprout to thrive in. It will also be a good aid in the successful growing of the plant or tree. When clay-based soil is prevalent, it inhibits proper growth and the tree will struggle to survive or may not grow to its full potential.

After you dig your hole, you need to remove the protective ‘bag’ around the roots and dump the contents into the hole. Then, carefully you can submerge the sprout into the dirt and carefully begin to fill in the hole, covering the roots. After you fill the entire hole in, you can pack down the soil, lightly, to help the sprout stand. If you are having trouble keeping the sprout standing on its own, you can place a stake in the ground and tie some string around the sprout’s trunk to the stake. You can also purchase a ‘tomato plant cage’ which can full protect the plant or tree as it grows.

 

Another easy thing you can do is to plant a tree from seeds. When you start out this way, you are essentially creating your own sprouts. You will want to ensure that you are using strong, sturdy, nutrient enriched soil for your seeds to thrive in.

Dig your hole 6-8” deep and drop your seeds in. You will need to water the soil where the roots will be nestled. Do not OVERWATER your seeds. They don’t need a bath!

Simply getting the soil wet, should be enough for the seeds to draw moisture from. As it rains, moisture will continue to get to the seeds, until the sprouts pop through the surface. After you cover your seeds and can no longer see where they were planted, before you walk away, you can place a small flag in the spot, so you can continue to monitor that space over the next few weeks. When you do this, it will help you find the exact spot where you dropped the seeds.

To protect the seeds, you can also place a cage around it, so you do not cut the fresh sprout away with a weed eater or lawn mower.

 

Home Life Hacks

In a world of video game ‘cheats’ and the need for instant gratification, it can be difficult to have to do things the “old-fashioned way.” Looking for fresh and creative ways to get dirty work done is always a welcomed thought. Who wants to scrub a toilet with a toothbrush if there is a super, heavy-duty way to get it done in ½ the time? Life hacks are becoming a way of life, and thankfully, they can be a great way to free up time to do things you would rather be doing instead of spending hours on a task.

 

  • Packing tape is a great tool. Like Duct Tape (which is a favorite tool of MacGuyver’s), packing tape has many uses, outside of closing moving boxes. Using the heavy-duty stick of a piece of packing tape you can easily remove dust and dirt from speakers, inside corners of drawers and even clean up tiny, hard to reach areas that are often overlooked with a Swiffer duster. Personally, I have even used packing tape to pull pet dander and fabric debris from my clothing. And with most packing tape being produced “clear” – when you pull it away its instant gratification! Ahh, I got it!

 

  • If you have children, you are familiar with dirt and marks getting on the fabrics of your living room furniture. Have you ever tried to use shaving cream? Yeah, well – this stuff can sometimes do the trick. Because shaving cream lathers nicely, it formulates bubbles that penetrate the fabrics and helps to pull out the markings. Ingenious!

 

  • How many of you have stinky trash cans or have ever had one? Yeah, I bet MOST of us have at one point or another. A great way to help absorb odors and moisture that emits from the bags is to line your garbage can with newspaper. Yep. Just by taking a few moments to place a few pieces of paper to the bottom of the can save you the time it will take for you to go back and scrub your floors from the stains that have splashed on your carpets if you don’t do this. Plus, while you are tying off your bag, you can read the sports section for the scores!

 

  • Mattresses are so unloved. They are overworked and underappreciated. One of the best hacks I have ever heard of is to spray vodka – no, not the entire bottle – over your mattress to freshen it up and disinfect it. Because Vodka has no smell and quickly evaporates, it makes it the perfect solution to add when you are doing your spring cleaning. Another tip I like to use is this: I like things to SMELL fresh and clean. So after doing this, you can take a Lysol with a fruit or floral smell (I prefer Lavender) and spray that after you finish with the Vodka spray. The room will smell great!

 

  • One of my favorite things to do is pertaining to my dishes. One night, after dinner, I was having a tough time removing some cheese that was baked into my Ceramic Pottery Dish. It was a deep burn and I was getting tired of scrubbing. After a few moments, I looked up Life Hacks for ways to remove stains on cookware and I found this. It has saved me so many times! You fill the dish, pan or cookware with soap and water, above where the ‘caked on’ stain is. Then add baking soda to the water solution. Let it sit for a few moments. After it soaks for about 10-15 minutes, you can then rinse it out and clean the dish as you would normally do it and it will look like new!

 

There you have it. Simple life hacks to help your day and cleaning adventures feel simpler! There are a plethora of them online. Check some out and see what becomes YOUR favorite. You might even invent a few of your own, in the process. Happy cleaning!