A View of My Garden in a Mirror 2010

Monday, September 24, 2012

Creating A Paver and Pebble Mosaic Patio

When I started this "little" project I never imagined it would take me two summers until it was finally finished. Technically it still needs one more coat of sealer, but for the most part it is finally complete. The reason it took so long was because I was only able to work on it in my spare time which over the last two summers was hit or miss.  Here are photos as I made progress................

Going waaaayyyy back, this is what the area looked like 9 years ago, the first week we moved in.

This is probably a better starting point. I originally planned on using some flagstone as you can see, but I decided to go a different route.

After marking the area with spray paint, we used a sod cutter to remove the grass. The area with the board is a drainage ditch that now has drainage tubing installed for run off.

Due to existing planters and tree roots in the soil, I used large retaining wall blocks to raise the patio and create a shape that would work for the area with the existing hardscape.

After playing with several types of pavers and bricks, I decided that I would have to stain them to use the shapes I wanted. I used plastic edging to keep the pavers in place and buried the retaining wall blocks slightly as well as added concrete to the entire outside to hold them in place later.

This is where I started again the second summer. I finished the exposed aggregate between the pavers on the "sun rays" and just started to try to figure out a pattern for the center. I found a metal wagon wheel at a local scrap yard to use as a circle pattern. I tried using plastic edging but it just did not make a great circle. The pattern you see here is not what I ended up completing. I struggled at this point and it took me about a month to come up with a new direction.

This is after I decided to divide the remaining area with plastic edging into 6 sections. Creating smaller sections made the project less daunting and allowed me to work on them when I had time available. If I had it to do over again I would have made the concrete lower on the edges. I ended up with a lip between each section and I didn't like the way it looked. I used muriatic acid to soften the concrete so I could carve the lip down to make the sections look like they were joined. This certainly wasn't ideal since the acid can weaken the concrete, but it looks much better now. 

This is a picture before I carved the lip down. There is approximately 4-6 inches of gravel as a base. And then another 4" of concrete and then 1-1/2" of mortar. I used the in situ method which means I used the concrete and mortar dry pounding the rocks in place and misted slowly with water afterwards until it was wet all the way through. After trying both methods, using wet and dry concrete/mortar, I preferred the dry method because it allowed me more time to move the rocks around to give them a tight fit. Also, this allowed me to start without an "exact" pattern. I just started playing with the rocks until I liked the way they looked.

Three sections down, three to go. By the way, the inside of the wagon wheel is rainbow gravel and clover shaped pavers. I found old pavers at a local salvage yard so I stained them to match the rest of the patio. This left the option open of doing something else later, but for now we need to use this as a place to set our fire pit. Having the moveable gravel allowed me to keep it level. 

This is after all 6 sections were in place. This was a milestone and we were able to start using the patio with the fire pit at this point. 

A summer evening towards the end of the project.

I filled the gaps between the small gray bricks with polymeric sand. This sand contains polymers so that you don't have weeds growing up between the gaps. I love this stuff and highly recommend it. It becomes so stiff it feels like concrete, yet the water can still penetrate to drain off. The large gaps I filled with stone. The arrows are pointing to the bricks I made with concrete. After struggling to break the bricks into the shape I wanted, and not wanting to deal with renting a wet saw, I decided to make them myself with concrete and stain them to match. I used a skinny concrete trowel to make lines so they look like bricks and filled the lines with sand as well.

This edge bordered an existing planter so I just filled it in with rocks and a flower pattern.

A close up of the flower pattern. The falling leaves are already starting to get caught between the rocks, but I am not going to sweat it. Let them add to the rustic look of the patio.

A side view of the edge of the patio bordering the existing planter.

The center rock work after one coat of sealer and the fire pit in place.

The finished patio. If you look close you can see the concrete around the edge. I stained this to match as well. It is much more visible in this photo than is noticeable in person. I used a mortar bag to distribute it in a pattern the same shape as the blocks and then smoothed it down with a trowel.

Dinga taking a break on the patio.

This is a tough area to photograph because it is usually half sun, half shade or all shade so the colors don't always turn out as they actually are in real life.

This is probably the best representation of the colors. This was taken in the early morning. It is such a relief to have this finished. I really dislike having unfinished projects and this one just kept going on and on and on! But......do you see the grass area in the front of the patio? I have a stack of pavers that are waiting to go in next year, as well as a path leading to the patio and the garden and maybe just a little more mosaic pebble work. Less grass to water and maintain is a good thing! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I haven't posted an update since October....2011. Yikes! I could have built a lot more than just a patio by now. After hauling over 1,000 pavers and bricks, along with many wheelbarrows full of rocks and bags of concrete, I hate to say it, but I'm not done! The pathway and pond area are finished, but the patio is still lingering. I am in the final stages and if the Oregon weather will cooperate, I may be done in the next couple of weeks. I am working with dry concrete to inset the pebble rock mosaic and if rain is predicted for the day it won't work. It's hard to schedule my "real job" work hours around the weather, so it is hit or miss. Enough excuses...here is a teaser picture of the fire pit area of the patio and the beginning of a pebble mosaic. I will just have to stall some more by showing pictures of the two weeks we spent in April in Mexico.

This is a small section right after the concrete was misted. In about a month I will be able to clean it with muriatic acid and then seal it. I will also touch up the pointed pavers with a little bit of concrete stain so they stand out.

Onto Mexico......


In case you wondered why I am inspired by pebble mosaics, this is why. Even this trip hazard of a sidewalk looks pretty darn good with a pebble mosaic. They are everywhere in Mexico and adding something similar to my garden will remind us of the rustic paradise we love to visit.

And here is another reason we love Mexico so much, the dogs! There were actually 4 of these little guys on a balcony, but the 4th one didn't want to cooperate. They were so funny. I had to get this shot by sticking the camera through a gated fence and hoping for the best. I think they stopped barking and stood still for a split second because they were trying to figure out what that "camera-arm" thing was before they started up again

This is Elephante who we met when he was a puppy with pink spots on his feet. 
He was still there and all grown up. 

Most of the dogs in Mexico look like a scruffy version of this. 
This is our dog Dinga sitting in the kitchen looking nervous because she doesn't have anything to herd.

But this year we found something totally different on the streets of Mexico.......

Little Designer Dogs! This little guy on the left looks like he should be sitting on a pink silk pillow in some ritzy mansion.  Instead he was on the streets of Mexico begging for food with the rest of them. Is this a Shitzu? And the little one on the right looks like he just jumped out of Paris Hilton's purse! (I left the Shitzu in for scale.) We knew the little designer dog population was a problem in the states, but we had no idea it had also rolled down to the streets of Mexico, this was a surprise.We think someone must have been caring for this group of dogs as they looked in pretty good shape for the circumstances.


We do go to Mexico to see more than just dogs and Rocks. Here are a few other points of interest.

And I thought I sometimes planted a little close, look at this.  I think this is a marriage of "till death do us part". 
These were big trees that seemed to be thriving.

Here is an old Coati that we saw at our favorite restaurant. He had scars like he had been in a few fights. Poor guy. We later saw a pack of 60 or more living on the side of a cliff in rock caves.

A beautiful day in Mexico.

I love this door!

Sorry, I couldn't help it. More rocks! Isn't this cool?

One of many beautiful sunsets we enjoyed.

A garden update will be coming very soon when the patio is finished.