Would a concrete paver patio look odd here?

movinginva(Zone 7)March 6, 2012

Hello all,

This is my first time in the Landscape Design area of GardenWeb. Since a back patio right now requires interior renovation, I have decided that I would do a front patio where my flower bed is right now.

My thought is a semicircle that starts where the mailbox is goes around the bay window, continuing into a rectangular area that stops where the large shrub is to the left of the house. The mailbox will be moved, and I will also do some repainting of shutters etc. I was also thinking of adding a few plants at certain spots on the perimeter of the patio for some privacy. Does that seem visually appealing? Does it make sense, or is it a bad idea? Does anyone have any other ideas that may make more sense than the one I have. We do not have an outdoor seating area, and I would really like one, but I also want it to look nice. Any and all suggestions, thoughts or ideas will be appreciated.

I have gotten a few good ideas from the home decorating forum on GW and I thought that the folks in here may also have some good ideas.

Thank you.

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whitecap2

The spirit of idle curiosity prompts me to inquire whether you have noticed any streetside patios in your area.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 6:40PM
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designoline6(Z6)

I agree.Just tough shade tolerant shrubs work in
some spot.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 7:22PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@designonline6, thank you for that idea. I do like it, and I could see that working. The only question I have is, do you have any suggestions for space directly in front of the house where I had originally planned on putting the patio? I have a hard time growing anything there. Thanks again!

@whitecap2, most houses here have a porch of some sort, and/or a deck on the back. I have seen only one or two with anything like the space I have in mind.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:04PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Is there a natural flow for foot traffic from the door to your proposed area? If so, that might work. To avoid feeling too exposed in your front yard while sipping iced tea, nix the curve and go with a generously sized rectangle fronted by a low wall deep enough to allow seating, then plant some easy care shrubby things in front of it (not very tall). This will help with a feeling of enclosure and also help the patio become an extension of your home, an outdoor room, more so than some casually tossed together pavers open to the street.

For examples, search for posts by 'bahia'.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:18PM
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yardvaark

Be the first!

It would not look odd if you do it well. But it would if you don't.

I can't comprehend the patio shape you describe. Could you describe its outer edge such as "starting at a point at the driveway, x feet from the face of the house, travelling straight and parallel with face of house for x feet, turning...blah, blah, blah... ? Or sketch & scan?

My suggestion is keep the shape simple and functional.

Will you want privacy when sitting or standing in the space?

Way past time to remove lower limbs from that tree!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:32PM
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designoline6(Z6)

Your ideas may be work,but I like to add some nature feeling.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 10:10PM
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designoline6(Z6)

I like a natural flow curve S thread too.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 10:54PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@designonline6, wow! I would love to be able to do what you have here. It looks great! The idea I have in my mind pales in comparison to what you have created here. Hmmm. I will have to mark that area out and see.

@Yardvaark, I did a really rough of a sketch online. I will try to do a better one and scan it in tomorrow if this one does not help. There is a concrete slab that extends to the front of the stairs from the driveway so I was going to remove the mailbox and use that as a starting point for the patio.

Here is my crazy sketch. My idea was to have the patio sit in the area that is closest to the house. I have failed at growing anything in the flower bed.

Here is the concrete area where I planned on starting the patio.

I hope my explanation makes sense.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 11:04PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I love the variation that Catkim has described. Even without a low wall I am wondering whether the narrow portion will be wide enough to be of much use, and thought I might suggest a rectangle with the outside corner rounded off. If you leave it square, though, that wall could have a box top and be a raised planter.

Either way, I really like the idea. The material you use will matter... I would not use small pavers as those would compete with the house brick, but bigger slabs would look great. A wall, of course, could be brick.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 11:51PM
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whitecap2

Most suburbanites, being abject slaves to convention, may think your "open courtyard" somewhat gauche, rather like a "garage conversion." Worse, actually.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:23AM
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yardvaark

Here's one suggestion. I like the radius corner, thinking that it relates to the tree better (or has the potential). I think I'm echoing Karin's sentiments about the shape of the patio and the leftward extension. Also, am sensing the need for some "enclose" but, while constructed mainly of plant materials, has an architectural feel about it...like this is an addition to the house more than it is a garden creation.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:11AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Be sure your finished dimensions are large enough to fit your table and chairs. For example, Yard's sketch will probably work for a garden bistro set, but if you want a larger table, extend his example below the second window.

To repeat myself, and Karinl, a nicely constructed "sittable" low wall fronted by shrubs or built as a planter will go a long way toward preventing whitecap's cautionary words above. It would completely change the character of the patio as viewed from the street.

Yard, can you mock that up for me? :-) I don't have the skills to create the visuals for movinginva.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:21AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I think you can successfully have a pleasing entry patio designed to enhance your front entry.
A good landscape designer/ architect who is at ease in architectural facade remodels would be a good source.

I see several shapes that would compliment your architecture, along with a couple of different materials choices that will unite with the existing brick .

By installing a short sitting wall partially around the outside edge of the patio you instill a greater sense of privacy yet still be open to the landscape.
For a full feeling of intergration you might want to remove the railing and wrap a planter box around the wing wall of the stairs.

Below is a project showing a front entry semi circle patio adjacent to the front door. The architecture is completely different than yours , as is the material choices but I'm attaching it so that you can see how both the wall and then the layered planting can work in collaboration with one another to allow for a degree of privacy.

From Loropetalum chinese

From Loropetalum chinese

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:54AM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

Thank you all so much! I am now feeling so much more comfortable with the idea and can see it actually working well now, and not just looking like an afterthought.
@yardvaark, about the branches - I know, I know :-). DH will trim them over the next few weeks. I like the sketch that you did, and as @catkim suggested, I will take it all the way to the end of the second window. I have attached the pic that you did the mock up on, so that you would have a clean one to work with.

I would love to do a low wall, but DH and I are doing it ourselves, so I am not sure that we will be able to handle it right now - or maybe we can with proper research and planning. Do you think that a bench or two, flanked by plants will do the trick. I can also plant a few things behind the bench(es).

@deviant, I really like your idea of removing the railing and putting a planter box in its place because I think that it will definitely help integrate the spaces.

The concrete pavers that I found at a really good price are the small reddish ones. Too busy? Would it be a good idea to use them in the middle of the patio and make the perimeter a different color with the larger bricks or will it still compete with the house?

Thank you all so much. I really, really appreciate all the input.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:13PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Instead of a low wall, perhaps a row of rectangular cedar planters would be affordable and easy, either on the patio or just outside of it. It could always be turned into a wall later if you feel up to it and if the look/feel of it works for you.

If you also put a planter next to the stairs it would be fun to grow a clematis or a fragrant vine on that railing... so accessible for tucking and winter clean-up. I would keep any plantings in the area in containers so you can move them around, but would make the patio solid to the wall.

Actually if you are hiding the patio from the street, it doesn't matter so much what it is made of; it should just be something you like. If it co-ordinates with the brick and there is a significant savings, then go for it - but I do like the look of mixed stone as you describe. Kind of a basketweave look can work too, using different sizes and colour of paver.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:54PM
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yardvaark

I'm OK, too with larger sized paving blocks, but I think the red pavers will look OK. They don't read as red like the house brick. But I'd keep things as simple as possible... a nice traditional pattern, one color, big simple shape. Then all the plant and garden elements you incorporate will spice it up. While you are working out the precise shape and size, I would lay this out on the ground (garden hose will work) and do some walking around and visualizing furniture. This will help you to keep it sized right. If you want wall for privacy, why not consider a clipped hedge. It can be whatever shape and size you like. If you use a right-sized plant (that doesn't grow too large) it won't be a huge maintenance nightmare. Taking care of plant that you like can be fun.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:06PM
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inkognito

Michelle (deviant deziner)posts a brilliantly illustrated idea and you take away from it "removing the railing and putting a planter box in its place"? I am shocked!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:17PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Well, I can't get past wondering if this is going to be at all useful. I'm assuming this is VA, and having done my time there, A/C and window screens are wonderful things. It is actually probably quite nice to sit out there in the late afternoons now. The bugs aren't really active, the temperature is moderate, the humidity isn't through the roof. But how long is that going to last, and is it worth going to the bother of building a patio for those couple of weeks?

It would probably be a good mental activity to figure out how much of this is for use and how much is for ornament. A couple of resin chairs and some bamboo screening might be a worthwhile investment for the time being. A shaded, screened porch can be a nice place to be, but is going to run into more $$$ than a DIY patio.

If the idea is just to fancy up a difficult area, get thee to the Forum of Perennials, and explain the problem. Given that plants don't really mind the heat, the humidity, the bugs, the inability to get a cheesesteak or even halfway decent pizza, there will be something that can work.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:07PM
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adriennemb2(z3/4)

We have a very nice neighbour who did this a couple of years ago and, while the hardscape looks pretty decent, he left that front facing patio just rimmed with petunias and other colourful annuals. He didn't want anything taller that might potentially block the sun.

I'm glad that he got what he wanted. Unfortunately, what I got was a view of a chubby, very tanned 60 year old guy lounging around in a teeny, tiny red speedo all summer long. My trees need to grow faster...

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:16PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Ink, in fairness, DD said exactly that - the OP didn't deduce it.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:29PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@mad_gallica,I do live in Southeastern VA and I am with you on the pizza. I moved here from New York, and I have yet to find a place that makes a decent pizza. I tend to stay away from it all together.
The patio will be used, and I also want it to look pleasing to the eye. It does get very warm here in the summer, but in the area the patio will be in is very nicely shaded except for the first few hours of the morning, and we have lots of excellent spring, fall and sometimes winter days when the weather is perfect for being outside.

Thank you all for your input, it is greatly appreciated. I thought I would get around to marking off the area yesterday but I did not, so I will be doing that this evening. If anyone has any other thoughts, ideas, sketches etc. please post them. I will definitely be incorporating a whole lot of the ideas that I have received here. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:23AM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

By the way, @adriennemb - Oh the image you have etched in my mind - eeek! I hope you trees grow soon. I will be using the space for sitting around, reading, observing, having my hot chocolate or tea in the morning, and that sort of thing - there will be no tanning in my front yard. Maybe you can sneak a photo of his front yard (just the yard) - would be nice to see another photo one or two of ones that have been done - just a thought . . .

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:44AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Perhaps you could use a planter-bench like ours to make something akin to a seating wall for the edge without having to build an actual wall. There are lots of patterns for it on the internet and it's pretty easy to build. Most of the patterns only have 3' benches but that looked too small and awkwardly proportioned to me, plus I wanted more seating, so I made one bench 6', adding additional bracing and legs under the mid-section of the long side. It looks like this (old picture just after it was made...)

We had cushions made to fit it, but we only put them out when we have visitors who will be sitting out there.

This picture shows part of it in August:

The bench is taken apart and stored in the basement for the winter.

Would that idea work for you?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:11PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@woodyoak,that is perfect! I will be stealing that idea for my low wall.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:07PM
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whitecap2

Come on, Adrien, we have evolved to the realization that "privacy" is an antisocial construct.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:06PM
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yardvaark

@ Adrienne.... LUCKY!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:20PM
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adriennemb2(z3/4)

Hee, I went to catholic school so luckily I know all about "custody of the eyes". It saves us both a lot of embarrassment.

Sorry but I can't get a photo for you of my neighbour's patio, movinginva. We finally had our very first blanketing snow a week ago
and all is buried. What a very odd winter...

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:57PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

movinginva -- It's not called "stealing ideas", it's called "inspired by..."! :-)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:20PM
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oceandweller(8B)

I like woodyoak and movingva idea's. I would take both of them and add a shurb underneath like azaleas, boxwood, or dwarf holly "personally I love dwarf hollies in the front for the nice evergreen color and security around windows.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:41AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Moving, do you remember Cattnap from the Home Decorating forum? She had a small front yard patio at her California home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cattnap's front yard garden

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:55PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

And here's a link to her old photo album on the garden construction.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:46PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@natal, Thanks so much for posting that pic and the links. I hope my project will look even half as nice as @cattnap's does.

I should be starting my project this coming weekend (I am very excited) since we have to at least have the bricks laid down by the end of this month or else i'll have to wait and start the project in May because DH has a crazy work schedule and is off on weekends every other month. I know that it will be a lot of work, but I know that it will be worth it in the end.

I have one question so far. Should the patio pavers start flush with the house, or should there be a gap between the house and the pavers. If I am leaving a gap, should I fill that area with river rocks/pebble, or something similar?

I am sure that I will have questions as the project gets underway.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 1:14PM
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yardvaark

For the most part, I would think that you'd want space to plant shrubs, perennials or annuals between the house and the patio... in which case pavers would not abut the house wall. It depends on your design as there may be places where you want the patio to abut a wall. But there would not be any point where you'd want space between the patio and the house wall that wasn't big enough for planting....like 6" or 18", etc. You'd probably need 2' min. and that's pretty small.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 4:56PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

If it were me I'd want a small area between the house and patio for planting.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 5:14PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

From the school of been there, done that, I'd put the pavers right against the house. *IF* you are willing to dedicate at least two feet to the space, *AND* are willing to baby sit a very difficult plant site, then keep the gap. Otherwise, pave it over.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 5:23PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

So I have picked up my pavers, and based on the ideas I got here, I think I have a good sense of what I will be doing with my patio. Below is a drawing that I did. I am trying to minimize having to cut pavers, but after looking at some of the pics that @natal posted, I decided I wanted to do something a bit more interesting than just a rectangular area or a curve. I have laid it out and it seems to look okay.

- The planter boxes will be made of the same pavers since I have more than enough and I will use @woodyoak's idea of adding a removable seat between the planters. I will put some tall grasses in the middle of the boxes and smaller plants around
- I will do the planter boxes where the rails are now, but that will be done after the patio project is complete.
- I plan on adding some flowers and trees etc. in the stepped areas around the patio.

Thanks for all the help so far. Let me know what you think, and if you think that it looks too busy. Digging will begin next week.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 9:50PM
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Yardviser

For the overall size of the yard, the sawtooth patio edge seems out of scale to me. Instead of being more interesting, I think the edge looks "chewed up". I would back off on making such small notches and keep them 3' length or greater. Also, the areas I circled in green look pinched to me. Usually, it's better to have a little extra space around the furniture as people do tend to move and stand around. I did a little study sketching over your drawing and came up with some alternatives. One of them might inspire you to make a change in the patio edge. Most don't meet your desire for minimal paver cutting, but it's not so difficult to cut pavers even by completely manual methods. I wouldn't let that be such a major design constraint. I quit at 6, but I'm sure there are more alternative patio designs that keep it simple. I think you will find that what you put on and around (outside of) your patio will make the space more interesting. The edge does not need to be "cute."

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 1:08AM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

@yardviser,I like #1 the best. I have not had a chance to do it as yet, but I will mark off the area today and see how it looks and feels. I do get what you are saying with those sharp edges and the potential for the patio to look too busy with the chewed up look. Thanks for the feedback!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 1:20PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

If you are planning on putting a groundcover, or just something small and spreading in the beds, I wouldn't worry about the edge. The plants will cover as much as you let them and soften it that way.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 1:51PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I like #2 or 3, going sideways, so the bigger areas. I think the others will create an awkward leg on the area that you might not quite know what to do with. It's also possible that even the bigger shape would work better with a bistro set (just two chairs) than a full patio set, or that benches alone would be better than anything with a table.

You could always lay it out and see how it feels using #1, and then expand if necessary.

My entire yard is composed of these narrow types of areas (narrow lot, awkward layout) and trust me, if you can make it wider, you will find it more useful.

I gather you are still thinking of taking down the railing... I would be cautious about that from a safety perspective.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 2:41PM
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yardvaark

Oops... I see I accidentally posted under my old moniker. So much for password managers.

Karin's right about the possibility of creating an awkward "leg" (the narrow portion of the patio.) It makes sense now as it's designed around specific furniture (yard swing) but that will limit its adaptability for unforeseen future uses. Deciding on how much flexibility to build into the patio for unforeseen future uses is a call a person has to make. Cost vs. benefits. When she says, "trust me, if you can make it wider, you will find it more useful." I generally agree. It's much easier to adapt to too much space than adapt to not quite enough. Amazingly, if one has too much space, they seem to be able to quickly find a way to use it. Movinginva, glad you are going to lay out and walk through it. It will help a lot to see how well it fits or if it has shortcomings.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 4:43PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

Hello All,

One more question (I hope this is the last time I bug you guys).

I have been thinking about my design, and reviewing the responses that I have received particularly Yardvaark's original suggestion, and was considering an option for the area to the right of the proposed patio. I am wondering if having a planting space (about 18") which I asked about a while back only to the right of the proposed patio rather than the whole back area of the patio.I wonder if that space will work well for growing some vines or other similar plants that would climb up the stair railing, which would eliminate the need for me to make many changes to the existing railing or even building a planter box.

Update - We are now prepping the site, and should begin laying bricks sometime on Sunday/Monday based on my schedule. I will keep you all posted. Thanks again for all of the help - I really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:40PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Thought: If you leave the planting space and conform it to your brick pattern in size and shape, you could always brick it in if it doesn't work out the way you imagine.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:54PM
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yardvaark

For growing tame vines (and maybe a little color below) 18" would work. If you can spare the room, 2' would be better. (For any shrubs I wouldn't go less than 3 feet and 4 or 5 would be better.)

Be certain that the crusher run base is packed down very hard and tight. I presume you'll be doing this manually which would be best as a 2-"man" job.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:58PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

catkim, I will definitely do that just in case I decide to change my mind a few months or years from now.
Yardvaark, We will be renting a tamper to pack the crusher run.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:50PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

My thoughts are exactly along catkim's lines. But I would just leave a very small opening (because it's only hard to pry out the first brick, and then you can always enlarge it).

For a vine, you actually need just a very small opening into the ground. If you leave just two bricks out, let's say, you will be able to enlarge it if you like and the majority of your patio will be well-laid and leveled, plus the space for those two bricks will be pretty exact. Leave a bigger space than that, and it will be tricky to fill it in well.

The thing about leaving a full bed the length of the stairs is everything from mess to weeding/making more mess (and dirt on patio = weed seeds sprouting on patio in the cracks), but also the risk of dropping a chair leg off the edge of the stone into the dirt. This patio is going to feel SMALL for the furniture you have in mind. I don't think you should shrink its effective size.

Also keep in mind that your doorway is recessed and quite dark. A vine will make it feel and look more closed in, in case that matters to you. And these big perennial vines can get pretty overwhelming. I personally love clematis and would probably put one there, but I'm not sure I would put it in the ground. You could leave it in a pot, and always cut it back to the ground (or bottom two buds if a B-type) every year. And once it gets too vigorous (as many do after three or four years), you might like to put in a new one. This is very tricky to do in the ground adjacent to a patio without damaging the patio. Maybe some annual vines would be more fun. Again, way easier in a container. Plus, the container gives you another decor item to have some fun with. On the other hand, it takes up some space.

So I would lay and tamp the whole patio but for two bricks. Undoing it later from there if you want a bigger bed is way easier than filling it in. You can minimize the crush layer in that area if you really feel you will want to open it up.

By the way, is there a basement here? If so, you want your subgrade to tilt away from the house.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:03PM
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yardvaark

"We will be renting a tamper to pack the crusher run."

Good for you as this is really the way to go.... and for the finished pavers, too. Also, make sure the base pitches correctly for drainage, too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 6:25PM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

KarinL, point taken. I am the world's biggest klutz, so I will probably be the one whose chair ends up in the flower bed. Using pots for the same concept may be a better route for me.

We do not have a basement, just a crawl space.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:24AM
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movinginva(Zone 7)

Hello All,

Phase one of my patio is practically done, The only thing I have left to do is to sweep the polysand between the joints. I am pleased with the way it turned out - but I am not an expert, so I will have to get your opinions. I will post photos sometime this weekend.

If I had to do this a second time, it would probably be way easier because I learned a lot along the way, I have no intention of doing anything like this again. I have the utmost respect for the people who do this every day. It is back breaking work.

The next phase is to get the landscaping done, then install my bench.

I will keep you all posted on my progress, and I am sure that I will have a few questions as I go along.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:16AM
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whatif

take some large cardboard boxes , open flat and then put in various configurations as you stand in various spots to get a good view from various angles, also step back to street to view when you thin you have picked the right design. you can then set out chairs tables or whatever to help "see" it in your mind BEFORE the heavy work. You'll know when it's right. best of luck

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:36PM
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