Friday, March 13, 2009

A New Brick Patio Made with Freecycle Bricks

I have been extremely fortunate to be the recipient of many wonderful things for the garden. Last September I posted about Eric and the nearly 400 bricks he kindly gave to me. He was doing a landscaping job for a client and she did not want bricks edging her garden (what was she thinking??), anyhow he gave them to me via Freecycle. I have always wanted a brick patio, but was not entirely sure I could make it work with just 400 bricks, and was not prepared to buy more. I also had no idea where I would put the patio, but knew it should be near Mr. Fix-it's garage since it was to be a gift a for him. After letting the bricks sit on a pallet all winter I have finally chosen the spot, a perfect spot not far from the pool and close enough to a garden and the garage so as to be accessible, yet secret and cozy and private.

Once I chose the spot (next to a wide raised bed with two oak trees and an Eastern Red Cedar growing in it) I dry laid all of the bricks on the grass to make sure my plan would work. This is not as easy as it sounds. While bricks by themselves are rather easy to work with, try laying out 400. Not an easy thing to do. The really bad part was I then had to move them all. Thankfully the Jimster came home from school and took over for me. My body still aches! The rocks show the outline of the new 'Secret Patio Garden'. More on that later.

Now that the bricks were all moved, excavation could start. The area had a very slight slope to it so I had to compensate for this by digging deeper on the upper area of the patio spot. All of the excavated soil and sod was turned over into the garden area surrounding my new patio. What I did was actually turn over the soil in the garden area, then dig the patio area and place that excavated soil on top of the turned soil. This created a raised bed equal to the existing raised bed. I had plenty of rocks to line the new beds around the patio. I had planned for two entries onto the patio. These two entries were
diagonally across from one another with easy access from Mr. Fix-it's garage and the swimming pool. Excavating the site to a good 8" deep on the high side and about 6" on the low side while building the new gardens took about 3 days. Phew!

The next step was to get the #8 drainage fill from a local trucking company. One ton of this fill is enough to do a 10'x 10' square area 4" deep. I knew one ton would be more than enough since my patio was a 10' circle, and not a square. The extra was placed under the roof overhang on Mr. Fix-it's garage. Thank goodness Mr. Fix-it downloaded the gravel for me. He made it all look so darn easy!! I made sure the gravel was fairly level and packed tightly before moving on to the next step. You can see we were working in the dark trying to get the job completed.

The next step involved another trip to town to get 1 ton of sand to cover the gravel to a depth of about 2-3". One ton more than did the job, but I made sure I kept the extra to apply to the top of the bricks after they were laid and to fill in low spots as I laid the bricks. However, before I applied the sand I laid a good quality landscape fabric on top of the gravel. I prefer this separation between the sand and gravel and have had good results in the past. I always overlap the landscape fabric and leave plenty of extra around the patio. I started down the middle of the patio by laying one complete row of bricks. This would be the baseline. It is vital to get it perfectly level.

Once the sand was spread and leveled it was time to lay the bricks. Initially I had desired a circular pattern for the bricks, but there was no way I was going to chip every single brick. Economically and realistically using a basket weave design made much more sense to me, and it was the design I had dry laid earlier. I love the basket weave design and tend to use only that pattern when laying pavers
or bricks. It is simple, attractive and quite functional.
I used both a level and a small 2x4 to ensure the sand was level and packed down. I also checked my brick level ensuring I had about 1/4 of drop per foot in order to allow for drainage of standing water. I did not want water puddling in the patio. You cannot even tell the patio is sloped but it sure helps with drainage and is very important. I built my patio away from my home, but if you build one next to your home drainage is vitally important-always drain away from your home.

Finally I swept extra sand into all the grooves and packed it down as best I could. I let the rain do the rest. I find regular sand works fine and packs down really well over time, but many folks and experts recommend polymeric sand; which is a sand that expands when wet. This is a hard sand to find in my area. I know Cameron said she found some in bags at a store in her neck of the woods in North Carolina, but it is nigh on impossible to find it here in my area. If you can find this sand, it would not be a bad idea to use it and I may add it to my patio at some point. With light traffic and proper building techniques I believe I'll be fine with mine the way it is for now.

This entire patio costed
me a total of $70; which included $15 for the landscape fabric, $25 for the sand, $8 for a composite edging, and $22 for the gravel. A real steal that required only a bit of labor on my part, and the kindness of strangers who are willing to give away products that would otherwise wind up in the dump.

And now the patio is complete! Don't mind the sand. I am letting the rain wash it down to ensure the bricks are very tightly packed. Now all we have to do is sit back and enjoy-yeah right! Seriously, Mr. Fix-it and I have been enjoying this new sitting area tremendously. It is quite comfortable, small and cozy. We do relax here often.
I'll post on the surrounding garden at some later point. Stay tuned for a very BIG addition to this garden and a fellow blogger's signature plant that is so 'squeaky' it just must go....

in the garden....

Can you guess what kind of plant might squeak? Do try to guess prior to checking out the link if you are of a mind. Another tip is that the plant is also known as pigsqueak. You all have a great weekend.


  1. Hi Tina, You are one hard-working lady! I commend you for your stick-to-it-tivness'(??sp??)!. I'm glad you and your hubby can enjoy your efforts;-) It looks terrific!

    RE: The Plant you refer to: To be honest, I do not remember the name--but I DO know (without looking) who the blogger is who claims it as her signature plant! (I read her post earlier!). Can I give her initials? Without getting an answer, I'll just say Cg. hehe!
    BUT, I just can't remember the name of that plant. As I remember, it is a low, ground covering plant--good to fill any area in the garden that needs a bit of green. That's about all I remember;-) Now, I will go to her link so I can remember what it is!!!

  2. Now I know why you have been complaining about your sore back! I did not read the words but did look at the pics. Am headed out and just wanted to see the pics first. Will read once I get a chance but from what I see, it looks terrific!

    Have a good weekend...

  3. That is a lot of work, it will be well worth it though. I love freebies! My neighbor had half of her driveway chipped up and replaced, I asked for all of the broken concrete and viola! I have a couple of walkways in my large flower bed and a raised circular bed for my man's junk is another man's treasure! (the contractor was happy to bring the concrete here, as they had to pay to dump it)

  4. Good Morning Tina,
    What a great little get away for you & Mr Fixit. That was a lot of hard work. Persistence paid off. I too like the basket weave design.
    I have no idea what the plant is but I have heard the word pipsqueak.
    Have a great weekend all.

  5. That a lot of work! Well done, it looks great.
    I can't for the life of me think of a plant that squeaks.

  6. Good posting! Looks like you got quite the deal. yes very hard work too.

    Just yesterday i was at the landfill and they had a 10 foot tall pile of pavers from UNC. These were dumped in the landfill at $47 a ton. We managed to pick up 90 of them before we left. I plan on building a small platform for one of our garden benches overlooking the pond.

  7. Tina, the new patio looks great! My back starting hurting watching your efforts though. That was quite a job, but cool that the 3 of you were involved. You are going to love it later in the spring. If my hands are not digging in dirt---sitting on the patio is my next favorite thing to do!
    Have a great weekend!

  8. Tina ! You have made a wonderful little patio there for next to nothing (your labor would have cost a bundle !) .. the shape of the bricks are the same as mine but I have gray .. I have a BIG problem .. ours retains water after a heavy rain .. so now I'm going to pick up random bricks and do low profile plantings .. hope this works for my soggy patio .. yours is perfect girl !!
    I have had Bergenia (Pig Squeak) since I put the garden in .. it is fabulous .. and what a colour in the Autumn : )

  9. Hi Tina, what a great job you did, but just a little work? I don't think that is what it should be called. Your efforts have paid off however and you did it the right way too, as I am sure all of your projects are done. Thank goodness for the manly help you had with the brick moving and gravel download. Great term, that! And yes, no wonder you are sore! :-) ps, I do know what pigsqueak is, just moved some to a hopefully better location in fact. It does not seem to like our drought of the last two years.

  10. Tina, that's really nice. I like the circle design. I don't have a paved area in my yard and often think it would be nice. Enjoy.

  11. Good Morning,

    Tina I am totally impressed by your patio and the work it took...All the lifting, bending and stooping does make for a sore back! It's a perfect patio near the pool for warming up and sunbathing! I can hear you all planning dinner and drinks by the pool! You are a talented and hard working gardener! Gail

  12. I have no clue what your squeaky plant might be although I bet when you reveal it I'll realize I should have thought of it! The patio looks good. I've been looking all over for bricks on Freecycle but haven't had any luck yet. A secret garden sounds like a neat idea!

  13. What a wonderful new patio Tina! Looks like a lot of work, but worth it. The price was certainly right.

    I love bergenia, haven't tried them here yet. I have one on order for the garden this spring, and hope it will be happy in our shady garden.

  14. Tina, I admire your brick work. It is a job very well done. We edged the gardens and have a brick landing pad at the bottom of both sets of steps off the family room addition. It was a lot harder than one would think...on the back. When we had the bulkhead replaced some of it had to be pulled up as the backhoe was driving over it. It was put back poorly by the guys doing the bulkhead. One of these days maybe we will re-do what was already re-done. To you ma'm I say WELL DONE!

  15. Freecycle rules! I have gotten some great things and given things I no longer need a good home. And the patio looks nice. Genius!

  16. Terrific, Tina. I appreciate seeing all the step-by-steps, too. My neighbor has had a huge pile of bricks in his backyard for a couple of years now. I'm trying to work up the courage to ask him what's going on with them (hint,hint) I got my piano on Freecycle! Very resourceful to look there for lanscape materials too.

  17. Great post!
    You have done a superjobb!
    Its looking soooooo NIIIICE!

  18. Good morning all! No school today due to all the snow, so I am late this morning.

    You all are so darned good with that signature plant! I am so excited as I found several at very discounted price and am ever so happy with them. Anytime you can catch a good deal and save the landfill-jump on it! I was very lucky. Gardening season is coming up so Freecycle will have many landscape things for people to get.

    Jan, Yes! You know her!

    Skeeter, Yes! Lots of ibuprofen!

    Darla, Lucky you! I know that contractor was giddy he did not have to haul it all off!

    Lola, Thanks! We are already using it.

    Dawn, You should know this plant-does well in Maine.

    Randy, Wonderful! Maybe you could go back and get more or make contact with UNC folks and tell them you'll haul off the pavers for FREE!

    Linda, Yes, it was wonderful for the hubby and teenager to be involved. Makes it more special.

    Joy, Good luck keeping that water out, a real pain. Great to hear about the pigsqueak in your garden-I'm looking for some good things here too.

    Frances, It was hard work-so happy it is now done. Yes, I am worried about the bergenia hanging tough here, but it is shade in this area. I hope that helps as I do NOT plan to irrigate this year.

    Marnie, It worked out so well. I even had ONE brick left over. That was too funny for me as when I drylaid it all it was not like that at all.

    Gail, Thanks! It was a work of love. I am quite pleased with it all. We usually eat lunch outside-now we take it down here.

    Dave, Hang tough! I got these bricks in Indiana, the city up there is older so more good old landscape things. Be patient, your city should have some offered. The bergenia is the pigsqueak.

    Linda, Bergenia will do awesomely in your area and shady garden. Carolyn Gail grows it and I was smitten when she posted on it as it seems quite adaptable.

    Janet, Thanks! I remember you mentioning your bricks were torn up. Yup, you know those workers-they just slap it down. I had to redo some my husband pulled up. It is just easier this way I think.

    Monica, Yes! Freecycle has given me so much for the garden. Love it!

    JGH, All your neighbor can say is no-go ask him! I asked my neighbor what he was going to do with his bricks sitting in his front yard, he said he has plans. Now three years later, still they sit. Must tell him about Freecycle. Your neighbor might be ready to get rid of his. Good luck! Lucky you on the piano! I see them on there all the time and thought how cool!

    Linda, Thanks! Those tiger lilies are looking mighty pretty!

  19. Your patio looks great! I admire women who do things like this because I'm so very uncrafty.

  20. Wow Tina! I am very impressed with all your hard work. All the steps to do this made me tired to think about, but at least you know the new patio has been done to last. Great job!

  21. Wow my back would be a bit sore too after moving 400 bricks. You are one hard working woman! The results were worth it though, that is one great looking patio. You wouldn't want to come help me put one in my own yard would you, lol. Just kidding! ;) Look forward to seeing your big project soon...thanks for the hint.

  22. Tina -- That is just awesome! You did a fantastic job and the results are so beautiful! I know you and your family will have so much enjoyment from your new patio.


  23. Well wasn't that wonderful! I need about 1,500 bricks if anyone comes across them...LOL! Nothing like some free stuff to spruce the yard up. Looks GREAT! Have a wonderful weekend :)

  24. Tina~
    I hope you are taking today off to relax your aching bones. The new brick patio looks great! You must feel so proud about everything you have created in your garden( at least I hope you do). Great tutorial too!

  25. WOW!!!!! GREAT JOB!!!! You always were a very hard worker, even as a little kid. You go girl!!!!

  26. Wow Tina- you rock! I cannot believe the amount of stuff you can get done. I am now inspired to make my own secret sitting garden. I hope your husband was thrilled. I am sure he was, heck I am and I don't live anywhere near you:)

  27. Yeap, nice little spot for both of you to laze around (after hard work, I might add). Nice job.
    and that plant is sometimes called elephant ears for they have big rounded beautiful shinny green leaves, right?

  28. Tina, that's so inspirational. The project looks great. My house has huge amounts of outdoor brickwork that came with the place, along with several piles of leftover bricks. I've been looking at them for 20 years thinking I'd do something with them other than doorstops. I'll revisit this post for some motivation to finally get to it!

  29. What a great job! A lot of hard work and a little money and look what you got. You should be very proud of how it turned out. Hope you can sit and relax there now and rest your aching muscles.

  30. Tina this is a wonderful post. The patio turned out beautifully. It's amazing how little area a ton of sand takes up.

    My husband built a stone sidewalk to our house a couple of years ago. At first he tried just laying the stones on masonry sand. That didn't work very well. lol So he put something called layering compound or topping mix on it (a mix of sand and concrete) and that set up from the moisture in the environment and has held up well. It's cheap too. I don't know if your close-set bricks will need anything though.

    Freecycle is a wonderful thing isn't it? I love what you've done with those leftover bricks.

  31. That's backbreaking work!
    But you've done it so well! I hope you have many happy times there. And I'm dying to know more about pigsqueak...
    You have a great weekend too...after all that hard work!

  32. Tina, what a great find girl! I am so jealous. It turned out wonderful as your own secret setting area.It is back breaking work but it was worth all of your hard work.

  33. Great job Tina --you are always up to something and it turned out great! I can't believe no school --the roads are clear by me --we were outside with the scooters this morning:) Now, the kiddos want a trip to Walmart --objective JUNKFOOD, hahahaha. Have a great weekend! Hi Jean --thanks for remembering my Sidekick --I hope to see you one of these days --don't let our snow and ice scare you --it disappears really quick:)

  34. Awesome job, Tina. As they say, hard work pays better and it reflects in your work! I'm sure Mr. Fix-It love it, doesn't he!

  35. Your new patio looks great, Tina, and the best part is recycling those free bricks. But "only a little bit of labor" on your part? I'm exhausted just reading this...I think I may have to take a nap before I read any other posts:)

  36. It must have been a lot of hard work for you both. I bet you were aching afterwards. What a bargain though - to get the bricks for free, you must have been really pleased with the final result.

  37. Hi all,
    Thank you very much for your nice comments. Yes, lots of hard work. I still hurt-most always do:( But work to be done. My naptime is done so to the garden I plant some daffys. Urgh!

    Dot, Beckie, Cameron, Karrita, Kanak, Catherine, and Lona, thanks so much!

    Dirt Princess, I'll keep my eyes open for some bricks and welcome to our blog!

    Racquel, let me think on it-uh oops-no-thinking not:)(

    Chandramouli and Heather, I think Mr. Fix-it likes it-sure hope so! I know I do.

    Mom, I just can't do what I used to, but get a few things done. Glad its done!

    Blossom, No, it is a bergenia, but elephant ears is a very good guess!

    James, Time to get to work-starting is half the battle:)

    Rose, naps are the best!

    Anonymous, Thanks! You should come see the yard soon-let me know if it measures up to the blog or vice versa.

    Sweetbay, I've heard of sandmix and would like to try it for some projects. For these bricks though, close set and sand works pretty well.

    Easy Gardener, Very pleased with the result-but mostly that it is done!

  38. Tina, that's exactly how we made our patio, and a few weeks ago, we have made a stonefloor for our new little barn with recycled bricks too...
    (Only difference: it costed it next to nothing, since the bricks were from the old large barn that had fallen in ruins.

  39. Tina, you are unbelievable! Is there any project you can't tackle?

    Lovely patio; I particularly like the look of brick for a small space patio like yours.

  40. Now that you're a pro at puttin in patios, we need one!

    Great job Ms. Tina!

  41. Anne, Lucky you to have old bricks. They are the very best and my favorite for all things that need a floor in the garden.

    Susan, thank you very much, that is such a nice thing for you to say. I work pretty hard in the garden, but there is actually tons I can't do:(

    TC, Ummm, let me think on that one-nope! Didn't take long did it? But you never know, if I lived close by, I might come help you out-pizza's on you:)

  42. Tina,
    You have skills! I love your patio, and the step by step photos you posted. Even with that, I'm not so sure I could get all that level or shaped right.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you plant in your bed.

  43. Oh my Tina. You are SO ambitious. Planning another big project after just completing this big lovely project!!! I'd have to take some time in-between to recover!! My back totally feels any moving I do so I can empathize with you. 400 bricks is no small feat. The results are wonderful tho and you'll enjoy this patio for years and years. Great job. I need to check into freecycle ~ you can't beat a deal like that! I hope you're planning to relax this weekend????

  44. Hi Sue and Kathleen, I wish I could relax this weekend. Unfortunately gardening season is picking up so I must stay busy. Come late June I'll be doing the garden of course!:) I'll post on the garden next week. It is one of my favorites so far. And yes, do check out Freecycle. I've been so fortunate with good luck in getting things for the garden-even plants!

  45. Can't beat free bricks! Who wants those new ones that look new, anyway? Mine are covered in rain right now. Puddles abound. Might drown in here if it doesn't let up.

  46. Very nice patio! I love anything made with bricks.

  47. Brenda, That's right-free bricks. I shudder to think how much it would've costed me had I had to buy all the bricks. Here's to some sun for you.

    Thanks Connie. I am also a lover of bricks. I wish I could use them for everything in the garden...

  48. Tina, I recommend a nice back rub to work out all your sore spots. Great job there, I know you will spend many happy hours enjoying your new patio.

  49. Fantastic job! I just called my hubby over to look at your handiwork and we were both suitably impressed. What a lovely, cozy corner you've created. :)

  50. Keewee, Thanks. We are surely enjoying all our hard work. It will be so pleasant when summer comes too.

    Nancy, Thanks. I am honored the hubby liked my work too. It is a sweet little corner indeed. Close to all the action and far enough away from the house to be very secret.

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. That is nice looking! I also made a patio with free bricks. I don't know how many I got but it was a LOT!!! I put some pictures here :

  53. Great post! I'm working (*will soon be working) on a brick patio in my backyard with some reclaimed bricks that I was given for free from some demolition near my office. My space is rectangular, and about 20x15, but this was vastly informative, and I thank you for your post! So glad I found your blog!

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