Leveling & Laying Down the Bones
All right, your brick is on its way, but you are still faced with a weedy, lumpy yard filled with all kinds of junk. For our yard in Encinitas, we took a day simply pulling out all the material and ripping out all the weeds. It was like an archeological dig for the DTE crew as they uncovered several different kinds of brick, some flagstone, rocks, stone, you name it. We even came across what looked like meteorites (maybe aliens were trying to put this yard out of its misery)
Tom then drew up a plan of what he wanted the new yard to look like. He then decided which plants he wanted to use and where to put them, keeping in mind their mature size and their purpose. For example, the crew planted some plants on each side of the yard for screening (Heteromeles arbutifolia) and then put in a Juniper (Juniperus scopulorium) that eventually will grow to provide shade for our new patio.
Once the plan was finalized, it was time to outline the yard using stakes and string. Taking careful measurements and using the drawing as a reference, we marked the hard corners with stakes and used the string to simulate the new patio. This is a good time to actually preview your new yard in physical reality, rather than just seeing it on paper.
We actually changed the width of our front entry path after seeing the string outline. We added another foot to convey a more welcome feel.
We decided to add a timber border for our patio, so we cut these babies up and placed them where they needed to go. We could have toe nailed them together, but for better stability we decided to secure them with rebar.
Next, we got to level the area. We moved dirt around the yard and tamped the area to provide a good base for our patio. Now is also a good time to install some "sleeves," which are nothing more than large PVC pipes that run underneath paths, walkways, driveways, whatever, so you can later run things like wires for lighting, pipe for irrigation, etc. at a later time.
Between the brick and the flattened ground we are going to place a two to three inch layer of sand. I know what your saying - sand? Why not mortar them in? Dry laying conveys more of a natural, welcoming look to a patio, whereas mortared in brick is a little too, well, dull. Using sand also allows for good drainage. Bricks over time are also going to get dinged up, so when it's time to replace them it's a snap.
Next: dry laying brick