Monday, November 25, 2013


Building the slate stone patio may have been the hardest thing Ryan and I have ever attempted together. We thought the project would take a week, or maybe two, but we were so very wrong.

We worked on the patio with every free moment for THREE LONG MONTHS over the summer, so before I share how we did it, I thought I'd document the journey we took to get there.

We set the first stone on July 6th with high hopes.

By the end of the first day we had about 10 stones set, and were feeling good about our progress.

Another day in, we had enough patio complete to set a couple chairs down (we celebrated in those chairs with a beer).

The next weekend brought more progress, as we worked toward one of the fences. We started on this side of the yard because we felt it would be the lesser used side of the patio, and therefore a good place to practice.

By the end of our third weekend of work, we made it across the deck, to the larger patio on the left side of the house.

The last weekend of July, we were out of town to run the Ragnar Trail Race in Tahoe, so we lost a weekend of work, but we were back to it the first weekend of August. An exceptionally long and hot day of work just about got the best of Ryan, but we pressed on.

August brought a couple more out of town trips, including a road trip to Bend, Oregon to celebrate a friends wedding, and a trip for me to Denver, Colorado for my company's annual summer meeting. We took advantage of the long days however, and many nights after Ryan got home from work we changed into our work clothes and got a couple more hours in. One benefit of working in the evenings was that it was cooler than the heat of the summer day, but often we felt as soon as we really got into the zone it would be dark and we'd have to quit.

Part of our process was to tackle projects that came up as we went. One of those projects was framing in the alder tree in the center of the patio. We used pressure treated lumber to create two boxes, an inner and outer frame, for the tree. The plan with the tree box is to eventually fill it with dirt and face it with redwood.

By the time September arrived, two months after starting the project, we were feeling like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The patio on the left side of the house was a larger undertaking than we had originally thought, simply because of it's size.

 September brought another set back in the project in the form of a vacation for us! We went to Troncones, Mexico for a week to celebrate Ryan's 31st birthday. Originally, it was going to be a double duty celebration of us finishing the yard project and his birthday, but alas we returned home to a final push of work ahead of us.

By the end of September, we had done as much as we possibly could do and we decided to call in a pro to set the "soldier course" or edging of the patio.

So, in a nutshell, there was our summer. It took us three months of evenings and weekends to get to this point, and was definitely a labor of love. We are incredibly proud that we gutted it out on our own, and we love the result!

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