My mother and I are ambitious people. So it’s no surprise that we decided to lay out a cement patio ourselves. The backyard of my mom’s house is beautiful, shaded and where we always get together during the warm months. There are three Adirondack chairs that currently sit on the sidewalk next to the 4’ porch. We’ve longed for an area that we could have a table with an umbrella and chairs and a proper place for the grill.
Well, dog-gone-it, we decided to make one. Me and my mom. Yikes. What have we gotten ourselves into? This is not something we’ve ever done before. I mean, we’ve made small stepping stones before with concrete but not something of this magnitude. So here it goes and I’m documenting our journey. Hopefully our project turns out well and we inspire other women who are too afraid to DIY a project they’ve never done before.
So wish us luck and here is how it started.
First we spray painted a 10’ square where we wanted the patio to be. It’s an incline all the way to the back of the yard so we will be putting in railroad ties for a retaining wall. That’s me looking sexy in my work clothes shoveling the earth away. There is a dogwood tree close by that has an extensive root system we found out. Digging proved to be a hefty chore.
Most of the roots were able to be cut loose with a shovel or hoe. There were a couple pretty big ones that required an axe. Hi-yah!
Digging makes me tired, so Mom and I sat back with our iced teas the rest of the time and made the kids dig. Don’t worry, it was only 85 degrees today and we paid them in popsicles.
They did pretty good building up the dirt pile. We’ll be using that dirt to build raised beds for vegetable gardens. Maybe we’ll let them do that for us too.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! They finally got the square dug out. Ok, so we really didn’t make the kids dig. In reality, they wanted to help even though we kept trying to keep them away. Funny how that works. If I had asked them to do any digging, they would’ve stomped and pouted about how unfair I am. Hm. Kids.
So here we are on day 2. We got the square dug out but we still need to get it somewhat level. We built our mold for the concrete tiles out of 1x4s. Our tiles ended up measuring 18” x 23.5”. In the picture they don’t look like equal rectangles but I assure you they were. The wood however, was a bit cock-eyed but, oh well. We’ll make it work.
We were a bit scared that the cement might stick to the wood so we painted the sides with cooking oil. Turns out, we didn’t need to according to some instructions we found online but I’m kind of glad we did.
Oh, look! A man decided to come help! That’s my beau, and I’m glad he showed up because after carrying up three 60lbs bags of cement, I was tired!
It took one bag of cement per tile, and that was only because once we had the mold down, we packed about 2.5” of dirt in each tile and filled it the rest of the way with dirt. This was probably a backwards way of doing it but it made sense to us.
We gave the tiles about 3 hours to set. They weren’t dry but they were at least formed and solid enough to be able to stand without the mold. We had to use a hammer to tap the sides to gently break away the tiles from the sides and then used a crowbar to pry and lift the corners and edges up. On to the next row.
Because we are thrifty DIYers and not professional landscapers, we used a PVC pipe we had laying around to do the leveling. Then we used the the hoe to tap the top. This was to get the rocks to settle to the bottom.
It can’t be all work and no play!
So this is where we are now. We only bought 6 bags of cement to start with, so it’ll be back to Home Depot for more. Come back to see Part 2 of our tiled patio!