Last year, Jenny taught a course on using recycled materials in your home/farm/building project for the Hubbell House class series. And sometime after that, one of the folks who had taken that class contacted us to ask if we wanted a patio’s worth of used bricks. She had taken up the old brick patio around her house, and stacked the bricks to one side thinking to use them for something else later, and years had gone by, and she realized she was never going to use them, so she decided to pass them on. Of course we immediately came up with a use for them, and got a team of people and the trailer together and went into town to load up the bricks.
Not wanting to create a long-term brick storage sitaution for ourselves, we then set about designing & building what turns out to be the first of three parts of the Mahazda patio, in front of the french doors. Jenny, Tristan & Rev designed the patio as three quarter-circles, one in each of the house’s large corners (the house is sort of lightning-bolt shaped, with two corners facing the street, each of which has an exterior door – and therefore a mud/mulch/sand entry point for housekeeping). Ultimately, these will be connected by a third partial-circle arc, making a mud-free exterior pathway from kitchen to office.
This batch of bricks enabled us to make the first arc of the patio, by the high-traffic kitchen doors. This is the main entrance to the community house, so plenty of sand and mud gets tracked in here. We’re hoping a cleanable patio will help us mitigate that, as well as reducing the overall amount of mud immediately adjacent to the house, and being beautiful.
The first step was to dig out the area, and lay a few inches of crusher fines (thanks to Fe & Justin, we have a lot of those on hand!), spread a layer of sand over that, and then level the sand. Much grading and careful slanting of sand went into this part, to ensure water will drain away from the house and not into it during storms, but without creating too much of a slope. Then we could start laying bricks!
Jenny had selected a herringbone pattern for laying the individual bricks, which creates a lovely visual effect. The group got into the rhythm of it fairly smoothly, and the most challenging part was the edge, which required cutting many pieces quite precisely to make the curve.
Once we accomplished the edge, we put in a layer of vertical metal landscape edging, to hold it in place, so that the bricks won’t begin spreading out as the years go on. This product didn’t come with quite as many stakes as we needed, so we repurposed another material – a stack of old dull sawzall blades that hadn’t quite made it to the recycling yet!
The last stage of the project was to shovel sand over the whole patio and sweep it in, sweeping the sand back and forth until it filled all the cracks between the bricks like grout. We will continue to do this off and on for the next month or so, until it has all had time to settle in and each crack is fully sanded. Meanwhile, we are enjoying living with the beautiful new patio!
Since we don’t have enough bricks to do the second arc of the patio, by the office door, just yet, Jenny and our wwoof intern Garol put in a paver path from the office door to the patio, so it is possible for a person to get from one door to the other in socks. When we install the next arc of the patio, we’ll pull up the pavers as needed. These pavers were originally in our greenhouse, where they were a bit too permeable to weeds and elm trees and such, and we pulled up the floor in there earlier this year and replaced it with several layers of heavy-duty landscape fabric and 3″ of crusher fines, which should both reduce the weeds and be easier to remove weeds from when they do make it through.