Busting Up the Patio–Post Mortem…

…or should I say post modern?

We are still pinching ourselves as we wander through and around our newly precycled concrete patio.  In doing a little research on the Web, I discovered that reusing concrete for patios, walkways, and even driveways is not all that uncommon.  To be sure, the material requirements for a driveway are substantially different from a patio or a path. Better to leave that to the experts. 

One web site rated a recycled patio project as “moderately easy” in terms of execution. Of course that assumes one knows something about design, layout, and heavy materials handling, not to mention installation. And…there is the small matter of having the right tools, experience, and physical strength.

A frequent question is what to put in the spaces between the new precycled concrete pavers. In our case we opted for wide spaces between each paver so as to permit the use of cobbles in certain places.  The top fill was mulch (to color coordinate with the rest of the area) although we could have opted for decorative pebbles. 

My wife sought the advice of the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino (Petaluma’s famous but fictional Wine Institute) as to whether or not a little color was needed in one of the few straight lines in the new patio. The Instituto agreed that a little splashy color was in order and suggested marbles. 

Unfortunately, the staff and officers of the Instituto had lost their marbles long ago, so we came up with a few of our own…

Busting Up The Patio–Part V

We have completed moving back into our newly remodeled backyard habitat. To be sure, there are small things yet to be done–but that is always the case.

What is amazing to us is the visual change created by “precycling” the old concrete patio.

Two “Before & After” collages may serve to illustrate the transformation…

The original patio had nine sections or concrete slabs…

  • Two were “saved” and the rest were broken up to make the new pavers.
  • Overall, while the patio area was reduced by approximately 15%, the permeability was increased by 50%. Not only will this reduce the amount of water run off into the streets during the rainy season, it opens up the area around the base of a shade tree.
  • By my estimation, concrete equal to at least two and a half of the original sections was removed.

Another benefit of this project is that we finally got rid of the “suicide steps” from the door to the patio.  For years we negotiated them without falling. However, it was only a question of time if we did not do something about them. The next photo collage depicts the solution…

A huge THANK YOU to Susan Garbert for the design and execution of the project. If you are interested in the technical aspects of the project, contact Susan at Cricket Landscapes

In closing, a few more photos are in order…


Busting Up The Patio–Part IV 1/2

Not quite ready for the “final, final” in this series. However, I can provide an interim report in this post! 

As of yesterday afternoon the “official construction” was completed. Of course, there is the usual clean-up and moving back into our new outdoor environment.

Quite a bit of the concrete that was not used has been picked up by someone wanting to build a patio using them as pavers. One load has been taken to recycling and the rest will be gone next week.  It was in the Petaluma tradition of, if you want to get rid of something, just ask or post a “Free” sign on it…

This week I will put together a final report and perhaps a few more photos.

Until next week, I offer a…

Busting Up The Patio–Part IV…

…or should I now say our patio has now been “precycled” and reborn as the new patio?

It is common to refer to this process as recycling; however, there is a trend to calling it “precycling” as existing materials were used on site. A common definition of precycling is to “reduce & reuse” to avoid throwing material away or to reduce the amount discarded. 

To be sure, there are several pieces of the “busted up” patio that were not used in this project. They will be sent to a concrete recyling facility or will be picked up by people wanting to use them as pavers or to build walls in their own landscapes.

But enough words! Here are a few photos that may tell the story better than I can…

Setting the cobbles



Part V will be posted in a week or so and will contain a few final observations… as well as photos.

Busting Up The Patio–Part III…

…or should I now say putting it back together?

This stage involves setting the recycled or “recovered”  concrete pieces as pavers to make the new patio. It takes time and patience to secure the right piece and position, not to mention keeping the level and grade. 

For those wondering what is going to fill in the spaces between each new stone or paver, there are several options.  The sand or base sand fills the first half and then you can top off with decorative pebbles, rocks, or finish sand. The option we have selected is to fill it with mulch with the occasional use of cobbles.  Perhaps this photo will give a better idea of what I am trying to convey…

It may be a few days before the next update…so stay tuned…!

Busting Up The Patio–Part II…

…or, to alter slightly the old Neil Sedaka song, Breaking Up Is NOT Hard To Do.  To which I would add that it is not hard to do if you have the tools, knowledge, skills, experience, and physical ability to carry it out.  Susan and her crew possess these qualities in abundance. They are fanatical about working to ensure proper grades, levels, etc.

Before continuing with the patio narrative, I must first refer back to the reason we initiated the project.  Some people have suggested that the patio as depicted in the “before” photo in the first article looked to be in good shape. Therefore, I offer a collage to better illustrate its condition…

The patio was not only ugly, it was a challenge to pedestrian passage.

Once they revealed the ground underneath, it was obvious that the original installation was quick and dirty…

  • There was no base rock
  • There was no sand
  • There was no rebar
  • There were no reinforcement materials of any kind 

In short, the original patio was poured on the adobe soil.  In retrospect, it was  amazing that it was not in worse shape than it was. On the other hand, the absence of rebar made it easier to break it up into sizes they could work with as the project advances.

Returning now to the narrative…

A good foundation for the new patio requires the proper materials…

Next, they reduced the concrete slabs to more manageable sizes–creating what I called the concrete puzzle…

After a few hours, the picture or design appeared…

Next, they will start working on setting the “new” stones!

Busting Up The Patio–Part I…

…or should I have said recycling the patio?

Over the last few years Susan Garbert of Cricket Landscapes has helped us to  slowly transform our residential landscape from turf to a garden or habitat using low water and native California plants.  (Click Here)

Next we dealt with the problem of the remaining small lawn area in the back which, unfortunately, contained a great deal of Bermuda Grass. Susan suggested that the only way to deal with it was to dig it out and sheet mulch the area. She also advised that there were no guarantees that the Bermuda would not come back.  Fortunately, after a year there have been no signs of the pernicious Bermuda.

That left us with one final challenge–the old concrete slab patio.

Those who live in older homes know the drill…

  • It was cracked
  • We patched
  • It cracked some more
  • We patched again
  • It was heaving
  • We were sighing

A temporary fix for the last few years was to put out heavy mats and outdoor carpets to hide it and make the area visually presentable. However, it was still a challenge for “pedestrian” traffic.

Finally, we decided this was the year to do something about it.  Susan suggested an approach using the old patio concrete to provide the materials for a new patio.  I called it recycling the concrete.  She called it “precycling” as we were simply using our materials instead of bringing in pieces from elsewhere.  As an aside, I have learned that there is quite a business in recycled concrete pieces. But back to the story…

Here is a ” before” photo of the area…

To get the “materials” for the new patio, you break up the old one…

At the end of the first day…we had a miniature replica of Stonehenge or Petaluma’s version of Easter Island…

In the next article in this series, I will report on “making little ones out of big ones” and the evolution of the design.

NOTE: There is nothing wrong with your monitor or my camera. I simply elected to use B & W on some shots.

Primary Election Returns–2010

The primary election is now history…

The campaign signs are coming down…

The votes have been counted…

The political pundits will now ponder, pronounce, pontificate, postulate, and proclaim while picking through the results.

In Petaluma Politics–Campaign 2010 (Posted December 14, 2009), I made the following election pledge to Petaluma’s Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), the Petaluma Animal Shelter, and Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP)…

  • For each candidate mailer received , I will donate $1 to each of these organizations
  • For each party or slate mailer, I will donate $.25 to each of these organizations
  • For each campaign e-mail, I will donate $.05 to each of these organizations
  • For each door hanger, I will donate $1.50 to each of these organizations
  • For each robo call, I will DEDUCT $.50

Here are the final figures for the June Primary… 

EMAILS–39        $1 .95

MAIL-29                $29.00

Slate Cards-4        $1.00

Door Hangers 9   $13.50

Robo Call- 8          ($4.00)

TOTAL–                  $41.45

As we continue to remain mostly solvent, the results have been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (my wife) for processing.

The Web As A Tower of Babel?

Some of the articles in this category (Legal & Personal Dangers–The Internet & New Media World) reflect on the changes in the news media generated by the Internet. 

To briefly recap…

  • News organizations (whether television or print media) are being severely cut back due to the loss of advertising revenue, viewers, or readers. 
  • This, in turn, reduces in-depth information gathering and investigative reporting to the public.

Frankly, much of what now passes for news is merely a reprocessing of pubic relations releases or statements from government or businesses.

IN MY OPINION: The expectation that independent journalists will become the new providers of “real” news is absurd in the extreme. 

  • Oh, to be sure, there are courses (some provided by journalism schools) teaching or preaching the new digital age of journalism to former newspaper or television reporters; however, they had better be prepared to work for next to nothing. 
  • Yahoo recently announced a new consortium with several newspapers to provide online content from over 300,000 independent “content providers” who will work for as little as $2 an article

Locally, several individuals are trying to establish advertising supported online “news” outlets through blogs or by paid subscriptions to local web-based news publications. Of course, there is also the Petaluma 360 model. 

The explosion of information sources  is replacing  traditional central sources of information.

IN MY OPINION: It remains to be seen whether or not the Web is becoming another Tower of Babel where everyone has a voice…and no one is heard.

Lucchesi Turtle(s) Update

In early April, I posted an article that contained a close-up of a turtle on the sidewalk in Petaluma’s Lucchesi Park (See Lucchesi Turtle…Soaking up some rays!)

Knowing absolutely nothing about turtles, I named it BT (Big Turtle).  After searching through a few books, my wife discovered that it was a Western Pond Turtle

As it turns out, BT is not alone.  A few weeks ago I noticed a bump or lump on the pontoon dock in the middle of the lake.  I could not make it out, so I grabbed my camera and zoomed in on the dock.

Voila! There was “my” turtle!

I took a photo.

As I was setting up for another photo, I noticed another turtle coming out of the water. 

Then a third turtle arrived on scene…

It does appear that the third turtle is a different species. Notwithstanding, they were gathering together to soak up some rays!