australia, ocean

Detours off Britta Blvd

www.britta.com

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from boring to nicely curved...
remodeling
brittadotcom
When I moved in over 3 years ago, my house had no walkway across the back or front, only covered back patio space, and a boring straight concrete walkway to the front porch. Brainstorming led to my mom's idea of brick pathways around the house since my brick chimney is so prominent on the front of my house. I've always liked the charm of brick, so that idea developed into a back pathway from my gate opening into a nice open brick patio that was done in 2006, in 2006 & 2007 cracking out concrete to make room for brick stepping stones & vegetable garden along the side yard finally in early 2008, moving lawn sprinklers in the summer to add the front pathway across the house last fall (that I guess I never blogged because of book & Halloween craziness)...

...and now finally the boring straight concrete is replaced with a charming curving brick pathway!




This was a major effort, since this time I did the work ALL by myself! For details click here to keep reading...

Timing was essential, since I didn't want a muddy pathway to my front door for too long, plus having the concrete scrap hauled away for me required me to have it all done before my cpring "crap to the curb" week...but I wanted the pathway still intact for my Mardi Gras party! That left me 3 weekends to get all the concrete cracked out, and one of those weekends was already Stitches Project Weekend 2009! I only got about a foot cracked out away from the porch and where the downspout drainage was installed, so I was pretty much starting from scratch the next weekend. 4 hours on Saturday with sledgehammer, prybar & heavy-duty wire cutters only got from the porch to the corner of the house since I was being very careful not to fling any scraps toward my living room window, plus I was still too close to the newly-paved porch for any leverage. Bashing the concrete with the sledgehammer would only flake, not crack, since the ground below was absorbing the impact too much. I could also tell I was getting tired enough to get sloppy, so rested & continued on Sunday. Thankfully I was far enough to start using my dad's 5-foot solid steel prybar, which helped immensely! I was able to pry up about 3-4 linear feet of concrete at a time with the bar on a scrap concrete chunk as the fulcrum, but since one arm wasn't strong enough, I got scraps ready near the edge, pried up the edge, carefully sat on the prybar to hold it down, then used one foot at a time to scoot the scraps far enough under the slab to keep it propped above the ground. Then I stood up, removed the prybar, gave the slab a good couple satisfying smacks with the sledgehammer, then it cracked into pieces. I still had to pry up the pieces, usually cutting them apart because of the wire mesh stabilizing the concrete, but Sunday went much faster...I was done cracking out all the way to the sidewalk in 5 hours! It was another couple hours hauling the larger pieces to the backyard so the empty pathway was walkable to my porch in the meanwhile. Boy was I tired!



The next weekend I had to visit my parents, so I was only able to haul all the small concrete scrap to the curb with my other junk before leaving town, saving the larger pieces to build a larger back garden wall. The next weekend I marked the sprinklers and tested curves with flour. To fit between the sprinklers there were more curves than I originally hoped, but I liked it, and could still walk through the center in a straight line which was nice. I took a break to replace my downspouts with new copper rain chain cups, just in time for it to storm Saturday night. After planting tomatoes & peppers first thing with new irrigation, Sunday I dug the pathway edges as much as possible, especially the lawn, marking my flour line before it all soaked into the ground!



The following weekend was leveling most of the pathway, using the concrete rubble as gravel where I could, importing gravel from other places in my yard for other spots to rake it level enough for the base, then laying the weedblocker fabric, which took so long I was only able to get 2 hours of actual bricklaying done before dark...but my hands were so sore by then I was barely able to hold the mallet anyway! During the week I was fighting with drainage at the sidewalk edge, digging down a cubic foot or more in two places and filling with gravel. The next weekend saw on Saturday 2 more hours bricklaying after a 2 hour hike, including reworking the other pathway to blend the intersection properly. That Sunday I had to level the rest of the path to the sidewalk, including cutting roots out under the front tree - I had to use my heavy-duty wire cutters! After that I finally blasted through almost to the sidewalk in 4 hours, only stopping because I ran out of sand, and nearly out of brick! I was very surprised I didn't run out of brick before, since this was all leftover brick I'd purchased for the back patio & front pathway.



The final brick weekend was finding out Home Depot had run out of brick too - only 71 so I purchased it all! Saturday was a fun day so no bricklaying then, but Sunday I was able to finish to where the sidewalk ends (haha) while thankfully in the shade, then cut all the bricks using the same dremel & brick chisel technique as the porch during Project Weekend. That technique only works crosswise on these bricks, not any lengthwise angles over 45, so I had to give up on the curve up to the porch and use other scraps. I spent a long time doing my best softshoe dancing getting sand into all the seams...it was much easier on my back to scoot with my shoes than to bend with the broom! I also worked sand into all the porch brick seams, even though those had been mortared in, since the sand on top in the seams helps it blend in. Since I had been waiting to mow until I had a good edge along the lawn so I wouldn't scalp it,
I was racing the fading daylight to get my lawns mowed & swept for a final photo...





concrete haulaway = free
labor = free (exhausting though!)
weedblocker fabric = $5 (didn't use the whole roll so really less)
brick = leftovers from previous purchases + $35
8 bags sand = $32

...so for only $72 cost I have a brand new pathway, but that's not quite fair since I knew I would be doing this project eventually, so it was really prepurchased by buying 3 full 520-brick pallets, two for the back patio, and another one last year for the front pathway (since I was paying a delivery charge for new doors anyway), then saving the leftovers stacked out of the way by my garbage cans. I definitely saved labor cost by doing it all myself, and I can always be proud when showing off my new pathway! :)

I can't tell you how much better I like my front yard now! Still plenty of details to tackle, like filling in with good planting soil along the new path in spots, but it looks so much better now! I still have about 25 ft left from the porch to the gate to meet the first pathway, then I will have pretty brick surrounding my entire house...yay! :)

  • 1
Wow, Britta... very nicely done! I'm very impressed. :)

Great job!!! I feel so lazy in comparison! LOL

good photos

(Anonymous)
I wish you had a photo of you on your back tap dancing the sand into the brick cracks! What I would have given to see that! Sure looks good after so much work!

love, mom

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