Here’s the downside of announcing your summer projects to the world — having to admit that you didn’t finish them. The shed project is still very much a go, but we’ve had some setbacks: my husband got a large job that precluded spending time on sourcing and building, and we discovered that the second-hand shed we bought for interim storage has a leaky roof. At least we have those concrete feet! Sigh.
On the plus side, the reclaimed concrete patio is finished for the season! Click for how we did it! –Mary T.
Here’s the yard last summer — the planted mound can be seen in the bottom left of the photo:
We decided to focus on the patio because it was inexpensive and also because it’s more important in the short term to have a dog-friendly yard than a beautiful shed. This project was simple, if not easy. We leveled a poorly placed, three-foot-high mound that was planted with flowers (before the puppy killed them, that is) to improve the traffic flow of the yard. Leveling a mound like that meant a couple weeks of shoveling and raking dirt into the far corners of the yard. We discovered pretty quickly why the planting area was in such a weird place — the mound was covering an old stump that, thankfully, had rotted enough that we were able to pull it out.
Once the yard was fairly level, we dug holes for each piece of concrete (about 85 total) and used a hose to mix the dirt into a kind of slurry to set the concrete. Once this was complete, I planted as much woolly thyme as we could afford right now between the stones — the garden store consultant assured us it grows fast and does well in the Pacific Northwest climate. We also added a fast-growing maple tree to give our yard some needed shade (yes, shockingly, Seattle gets almost no rain during the summer, and we were baking as a result).
I put grass seed over the rest. Next year we plan to expand our found-concrete patio even further. And if it’s temperate enough throughout the fall, we may just revive the shed project soon, too. –Mary T.