Help with material for small, odd shaped patio

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)May 4, 2011

Hi folks!

I've been away for a while, because my yard was kind of at at a standstill. I was sick most of last spring so my yard basically had to fend for itself. But this year I am healthy and raring to finish fixing it up. I am seeking some ideas and advice for a small patio area.

Below are pictures of the part of the yard up for the redo. (The compost bin is gone, I couldn't keep the mice out of it.)

I have acquired a seat swing and I love to sit out there at night. I have positioned it the way it is because it gives me the best view of the garden with the least distractions from the obviously very close neighbors in this row house 'hood. I'm planning on installing a small fountain with a garden around it which will be the view from the swing. I might get a little bigger swing someday or I might add some more seating options in spots around the garden, but right now I just want to create something attractive to sit the swing on. Initially I had it on grass, but got sick of mowing and trimming around it. My yard is so small I really want to get rid of the grass all together eventually. Right now it is sitting on these red pavers because I had them sitting around from when I tore out the old path to the garage.

One thing I know for sure, I DO NOT want to continue with the ugly grey paver bricks which are a result of my ill advised collaboration with a "landscape designer." They look ugly with my house, but are functional and here to stay. So whatever I do has to blend in with the grey brick and the red brick of the house. Also, the swing is at an angle for the best view, so not sure how to design the shape of the patio to accomodate that angle but jell with the strong defining rectangular shape of this row house yard.

I have a friend who has flagstones mixed with some type of stone/gravel for her patio. It's not pea gravel, at least it doesn't act like pea gravel. The furniture sits on it OK and it doesn't seem to migrate much and isn't uncomfortable to walk on. I want something permeable so concrete is out. I'd really like it to be just some type of grey gravelish kind of thing but maybe that is problematic. I'm not sure what kind of shape either I'm thinking something kind of free form. Eventually I plan on the whole grassy area of the lawn being low plants with pavers for navigating thru the yard for maintenance.

I know nothing about putting in a gravel patio but whatever we do it is going to be a "do it yourself" project. I can't find anyone of quality to work on such a small job. One other idea I had was a low wooden deck, ground level. I saw one once that I liked. BF who is a carpenter says it won't last. Maybe there are some other ideas for materials out there I'm not thinking of. Flagstone mixed with gravel seems hard to pull off, I'd be really interested in some books or Web sites with do it yourself instructions.

Thanks, sorry this is long!

This is an overview shot of the whole yard taken from upstairs, before the trees got so big.

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I agree the grey pavers are a bit stand out and the white scalloped edging makes it worse. So here is an idea take up a few of the grey units (randomly) and replace with brick coloured ones, put the edging on craigs list. Your patio could then be made from a similar mixture with the emphasis on the brick tone. Place a large terracotta where the chairs are.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:27PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Thanks Ink! I like the idea of mixing in terra cotta elements. I already do that with pots, I can never have enough space to grow things, lol! But the whole area is just giving me fits, it's like a geometry problem with the shape.

And I am still unsure about what material to use. I'm leaning against flagstone and gravel now, due to thinking it might be too "busy" and also not barefoot friendly, and I love to walk outside barefoot. So I'm wondering if maybe I should go with grey brick. They make wonderful brick that is a mix of red and grey, mottled, but if it didn't match the red of the garage brick, I'm thinking that would add one more clashing color element.

Also wondering about a pattern for the brick, which will also add another element. I really hate the patio pattern I have, it makes it hard to incorporate the additional patio. I want to make it fit in with the existing hardscaping. I need help from someone with an artistic eye.

Below is a current photo of my yard. As you can see, the white scalloped edging is less glaring now, because it has weathered to grey. It is still just a place holder, but they way I garden I need something to hold back the jungle from the pathway, or I'd be sweeping it every day. But they are just temporary until I get a chance to scrounge thru an old slate slagpile around here for something more organic. Right now I'm focusing on just getting in the patio and the gardens finished.

I'm also posting some shape and color hacking out I have done with MS Paint. The grey seems so oppresive, but maybe not now, considering how overgrown the vegetation is. Another idea BF and I are tossing around is a low deck, made out of treated lumber that would weather to a grey brown. But not only the material, but the shape is giving me fits. I am NO artist!
The yard today:

Some ideas for patio colors, materials and shapes, (yes, poorly done by an amateur!)
Wood deck?

Concrete pavers? Shapes?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 8:23AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I think the shape of the pad you've already laid is pretty good - call it an organic design process! - and I think Ink's idea of patching some red into the grey and vice-versa is brilliant. I'm not clear on why you hate your existing patio or grey brick so much, although I agree a pattern would be nicer. It can be done after the fact! So can altering the patio shape, for that matter. And the pathway shape is nice.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:06PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Maybe I'll just get a big plastic rug with some kind of earthy pattern to lay on the big patio. They have some amazing ones out now.

It's taking so much time and work just to get the viewing garden on the other side ready, we may just live with what we have for now. The biggest issue is that those large square terra cotta pavers don't really fit quite right for the shape, so dirt collects in between the pavers and the worst weeds get in there, they are impossible to pull out! That whole area was a nasty weed patch last year due to my neglecting it. Wild morning glories are creeping up everywhere! I may have to pull out the pavers just to get a handle on the weeds against the garage wall.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 3:54PM
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LPink - Changing out the entire patio to incorporate a new section is not necessary. I also love the idea of adding a few randomly scattered red bricks (or pavers) into the new and old patio to bring in the house. I dont know why, but with the seating area, and the small space, this back yard would be a great tuscan style garden. For privacy between houses you might look into a row of italian cypruss trees (due to the space, they would need to be small). Cool space, hope it turns out well.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 4:22PM
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