Yard Renos, Brick walkways and Sod

Our house Renos are moving to the front yard! And Im super stoked about it! Can you tell?!

front of house with one layer of wall in
Front of our house with the first layer of wall in, you can see the neighbours big spruce tree is still in place.
Front flower bed planted with shrubs and perennials

Its not that we haven’t worked on the yard, we have done a lot already with clearing the shrub brush, removing trees and adding gravel for a future brick walk way. However most of the changes have been in the back yard, the garden in the back, the greenhouse, taking out trees, planting grass seed are naming just a few of the things that have kept us busy.

Im super excited to be working on the front of the house because for the past 10 months we have looked at the blank canvas, picturing the way it will look.

Since the first picture we added another layer of retaining wall to the flower bed and enlarged it to join with our neighbours. Together we have worked at planting and dreaming up the space. There are still some bare spots but it is 100% improvement on what was there less than a year ago.

Front of our house the day we put an offer in

Remember this picture from my Renos 101 post? It was an over grown tangle of shrubs, with trees leaning towards the house, ready to fall in the next big wind storm. You couldn’t even look out some of the windows.

Front of house waiting to install the brick sidewalk

This is a picture with the house in dire need of colour and interest. Two things are happening here in the front, the yard part and the house part. This post I will share the yard part. The house painting part will be another post.

The yard part is the gravel waiting for our bricks to get installed and then lawn. The story about the cobbler guy that fixed everyones shoes and his own children had holes in their shoes because he didn’t have time to fix them is real. It isn’t that we are unwilling or unable to do landscaping for ourselves, it’s more a time issue.

We have booked a week off work and plan on putting in our own brick. Did I mention that I was super stoked about it?!

People would ask what colour our house was and I struggled to define that colour. Is it anemic blue? or off white? maybe faded grey? Now I know the colour. It is the same colour our sky was with all the smoke. I call the colour “smoke sky grey”. Kinda depressing. After the brick walkway we plan to paint the house.

For the bricks we choose to use tumbled brick in “Sierra Grey” which is a Barkman product. It is a grey mix and we did a 4 brick pattern, using bricks that are 4×8, 6×8, 10×8 and 12×8. The edge brick is a Holland Paver tumbled, also a Barkman product, in Charcoal grey. By standing the Holland pavers upright and side by side, in a Soldier pattern, it gives the edge a crisp and defined look.

The bricks are now delivered and ready to install. We are grateful to have them as supply is getting limited at this stage of the season.

Bricks take a lot of prep work to get the site level yet once that part is correct the brick laying goes quicker.

I did not get any pictures of the gravel and sand being levelled and installed. essentially we used a laser level on boards to make sure the site was level with the correct water run off. We put down around 4-6 inches of road crush gravel, topped with 1/2 inch sand. This gets watered and tamped to do the final check. Once we are confident of the grade we can start to install brick.

The middle pictures shows the pattern and the bricks being installed. Like I said, once your grade is correct the laying of brick isn’t to complicated. Its like any construction project, if the base or foundation is good, the project goes well.

Now that the brick is installed the cutting begins. Last summer we bought a new brick saw that makes the cutting straight and square, also making the final result professional. But hey, this is what we do for a living so it should be professional! Cutting can take timer, but better to be exact and save grief down the line.

Activated polymer sand
Activated Polymere sand

Once the bricks are installed and all the pieces cut, we add a polymer type sand. It gets swept into the cracks and then tamped in to level both the bricks and sand. We sweep away all the extra sand leaving the surface as clean as possible. With a light water mist from the hose the polymer sand gets activated becoming a gel concrete mix. This dries and hardens in a short while but best to leave for 24 hours or so.

Major tip on the polymer sand installation, only do on dry brick. If any moisture is present the polymer will activate and you will get this unpleasant grit on the finished brick. You would hate to have that happen after all the hard work of installation!

Looking out of the finished breeze way

The breeze way turned out even better than I had hoped for! This is the view looking out to the back yard. Before this area was all patched concrete blocks with gravel between. Having it all brick opens up the space which is what we have been looking forward to for ages.

top soil installed ready for sod

The drive way edge brick is installed which compliments the flower shrub bed side. This brick is a wall brick that comes with a cap stone. I didn’t really mention it in the post, but it is also layer on a gravel crush base that is levelled similar to the brick work.

Top soil is all in and levelled. We watered in preparation for the sod tomorrow. It has been so dry this seems to help the outcome.

Of course it is smoky again making the picture fuzzy but you get the general idea. The sod is in and the front of the house is painted, the flower bed is in and planted, still needs some cedar mulch to top it up. And the driveway has a retainer wall in place.

Ill do my next Reno post on the house painting starting with colour choice, technique and also how we are going to paint the existing eaves. On this picture though you are getting sneak peeks at upcoming posts. Stay tuned.

Until then we are pleased with the finished product of brick, sod and house. It looks so clean and fresh, like a different house!

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