MSL copy chief/articles editor Myles McDonnell, a lifelong Manhattan apartment dweller transplanted to the suburbs, recently tackled a patio project in his backyard, with the assistance of paving stones and advice provided by Pavestone. This is the fourth, and final, installment of his great DIY landscaping adventure, which begins here.
We’d triumphed over the tree roots. We’d survived the confusion of gravel that didn’t look like gravel and sand that didn’t look like sand. Now, we had finally reached the final stages of our project: Placing the paving stones. You know, just the part that’s actually visible when you’re done.
The paving stones we were using, courtesy of the folks at Pavestone, came as part of a Circle Pack, designed just for curved areas like our little mini arc. It comes with a great number of medium-size rectangular and medium-size wedge paving stones, and a smaller number of large wedges, small wedges, small rectangles, and half-hexagons.
Happily, it also comes with a chart that shows you how to go about using these shapes to create your circle or portion thereof.
Even more happily (for me, anyway), my wife, Whitney, is very, very good at arranging things in three-dimensional space. (My talent is two-dimensional space, which isn’t nearly as practical in most everyday situations.) She studied the diagram and almost at once started mapping things out with a few stones…
As you can see, there’s a reason the pallet of stones in the Circle Packs is mostly made up of medium rectangles and medium wedges: You mostly end up alternating between them. It wasn’t until we started to reach the outer edge of our space—not a perfect quarter-circle, as you can see—that Whitney had to start getting creative with other shapes. (If we owned, or wanted to rent, a masonry saw, we could have cut the stones into smaller shapes to fit exactly in the irregular spots, but we didn’t feel that was worth the cost/effort/chance of cutting our hands off.)
And by the time I was done filling the interior spots, Whitney had polished off the last stone-laying.
And voilà: Suddenly it looked rather like a real patio!
We shall ultimately discover, through the coming fall and winter and beyond, how well we did, of course. Those tree roots still lurk underneath, and while our sand application was tested the very first night of the patio’s existence by a huge rainstorm (it passed the test), it’s how it holds up after months and years of storms that will count in the long run.
We’re hoping that moss and/or grass may grow in the spaces between the stones (this is why we didn’t put down any plastic sheeting, which is often done under patios and the like to prevent plant and weed growth), which we think will look pretty nice.
Whatever the future holds for our patio, we know two things: First, even if it starts to get bumpy, it’s a hell of a lot better looking than what was there before. And second, we made it ourselves. Nothing, not even time and entropy, can take that sense of accomplishment away from us.
Thanks once more to Doug Scott at Pavestone, Chad Corley at Quikrete, and everyone else at both companies, for their donation of the paving stones and all their good and helpful advice.