Tag Archives: Stairway

Patio Stairs

Once we had our patio and the rock wall completed, we needed, ummmm, stairs.  That first one was a doozy!

We were still working on the edging, so the tile saw and other assorted construction items were our patio accessories.  Pretty, hey?

We used the plate compactor we rented for the patio to also compact the sand base for the stairs.

Then we filled the form up with gravel.  We built the forms in an unusual way.  We “built” a mock step out of patio stones that was the size we wanted, and then we built the form around that.  We repeated that step 5 times and then stacked the forms on top of each other.  Not exactly standard procedure I realize, but, hey, the numbers all worked out with the rise we had, and we were flexible for the run.  The most important parts of the stairs for us were the depth and rise.  We wanted something that could be easily shoveled off in winter and that was easy and natural feeling to walk up and down.

Ah yes, our old friends the hand tamper and shovels.

Then we covered the top of the packed gravel with cement and let that set up (after we let our son draw on the bottom one, of course).  You can see all of the pavers set up below.  It took a lot of them to cover the tops and fronts of the stairs.

Then it was time to put the paver stones on top.  We mixed up a bagged mortar specifically for this and went to work.  You can see it got quite late and we ended up using the truck headlights for a while.

We didn’t even stop to eat.  Except for pie right out of the plate and licorice.  I guess that glass of milk was healthy…

And finally all finished.

Can I just say that I love the front of our house now?  That we worked like mad demons all summer to get it all done and that I am thrilled with the results?  That I am so glad all the heavy lifting is over?

I am off to do some DIY/ crafts around here that involve soft textures and edges.  Ones that don’t require dollies or gloves or weeks and months of backbreaking labour to do.  But I can’t wait for the snow to melt in the spring so I can hang out on the patio and stairs!

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Rock Wall (or moving mountains)

I originally called this post moving mountains.  Because we, literally, moved mountains of stone to get it done.  It basically consumed the last month and a half of our lives and was the biggest project, second only to building our house, that we undertook, and happily, accomplished, together.  We.  Are.  So.  Glad.  It.  Is.  Done.

I don’t know if that was emphatic enough.

We moved into our house a year ago, at the end of September, and didn’t have any time to get any landscaping done.  It looked like this.

And like this.

Hard packed gravel with big boulders.  Rickety fake stairs.  And quite a steep bank was what we had to work with.

We started with laying down landscape fabric to stop weeds and stabilize the slope.

And then we started moving rocks.  See those hanging baskets?  The teeny, tiny ones hanging by the front door?  That was a lesson in scale, my friends.  I have new planter containers for my front door now.  I’ll show them to you later.

Back to moving rocks.  Cause that was what we did.  All summer long.  One wheelbarrow load at a time.

This was about all I could manage in one trip.  Let me tell you, that doesn’t translate into much space covered on that big bank.  But it did help to really clean up the site around the house that had been all torn up from the build.

Or, Shaun would use the dolly and then carry them up the slope.  Some of them were huge!!  I was constantly afraid he was going to get hurt.

We lined up the bottom of the bank with big rocks.  Some we had, and some we had my dad bring up from our gravel pit with the loader.  You can see the pile of them there.  We call it rip rap.  It isn’t fun to move by hand.  But the big ones gave us something for the rest of the smaller rocks to build up against.

These big flat ones were one big stone that we split last winter (we drilled holes, filled them with water and the rock split when the water froze!- so cool) and are going to use to flank our stairs going up to the patio.  We figure the dogs will sit on them…

Eventually, we got the bank covered and the paver stones for the patio down (I’ll do a separate post on that little project later).  The final step was to build some stairs.  Real stairs.  Again, I’ll post a separate tutorial on those, but, for now, I’ll show you the final, wonderful product.  Our patio, stone bank, and stairs FINISHED!!!

See that whiskey barrel on its side?  That’s part of my new, improved plan for planters by my front door.  Scale lesson learned.

The rocks look beautiful.

We even have some really big chunks of petrified wood.

Beautiful bank, patio, and stairs.  We are thrilled with the results of all of our hard work.  It definitely paid off!  The only sad part is that it is probably going to snow in a week or two and cover it all up!!

I am linking up to Sarah’s outdoor project party.  Hope to see you there and I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to in their yards!!



Moving Mountains

This summer, we needed to do a lot of work on the yard.  Having just moved into the new house at the end of last September, we really didn’t have any time to get any landscaping done before the snow flew.

Piles of gravel, tarps, and other random items were sort of…..everywhere.

Here is the “bank” in front of the house.  Full of big rock and weed, mostly.  Very relaxing to sit beside in my lawn chair.

Here are our construction stairs from the inside of the house that we used for outside stairs for the winter…. they match the pallet front door step…

So we had a fairly steep little slope, some very packed gravel, some very slippery loose round rock, and a lot of weeds to work with.  And some fake stairs.

I cannot wait to show you what we did!  I know I have promised about a hundred reveals lately, and I really am getting to it!!  The garage sign, the island cubby fall display, house tour- I’m on it!  But it is this big project outside that is causing the delay.  It was monstrous.  Now you know why.  When it is finished- life can get a little bit more normal.  Right now, we are all about cement and mortar and paving stones….


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