Pouring concrete on the 4th of July - Fireworks of a "different" kind

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Two years ago this week, my yard looked like this.  We were in the process of disassembling and renovating our then six year old patio due to the fact that the staircase had "settled" because it had no footings under it when it was built.  So, during the week immediately preceding our annual 4th of July party, I decided to start to correct the issue because I love to work under pressure and when I have a few minutes before a party, I like to start major projects. Just ask my friends, they'll tell you. In case you were wondering, we had the party indoors that year.

As long as we were going to make a huge mess anyway, I redesigned the patio, changed the staircase design, added an enlarged lower patio with a fire pit and stone stairs to the lower yard. I also changed the landscaping. I mean, why not?! Everything else was a mess, why not add a little mud and transplant huge trees when it's nearly 100 degrees, right!?

We disassembled the stairs, removed the gravel fill, drilled and concreted pins to the existing foundation and then, two years ago tomorrow, in the morning, on the 4th of July, our family of four (my sons were then 18 and 15) made 11 trips to Home Depot to pick up bags of concrete mix. We hand mixed and poured 3,800 pounds of concrete to form footings for a staircase and  a new corner for the upper patio. Needless to say, there were a few "fireworks" since it was over 90 degrees that morning and no one (except me) wanted to be pouring concrete on the 4th of July. We survived and I took a vow that I'd never make any of the men in my life do that again! (at least not on the 4th of July *wink*)

I learned how to apply veneer wall stone, build a fire pit, and stone stairs on this project. We had already laid a blue stone patio and built seat walls at out last home.  We hired landscapers for the grading of the lower patio and re-laying of about 1/2 of the lower patio. We hired a contractor to build the pergola. I did all of the design work for the project and, by carefully planning, we were able to re-use 98% of the original material for the new patio which saved us more than half of the cost of doing this project. The rest of the work was done by our family over the next six weeks because I  had a surprise 50th birthday party for my girlfriend scheduled to be in the yard in the middle of August.

 Which brings us to how it looks today. Literally, today! I took these this afternoon.

 It also leads us to how incredibly happy my family is that they will be sitting on this patio this year instead of building it!
Of course, there IS  a 12 foot tall birch being delivered this afternoon that we need to plant tomorrow...I haven't told them that, yet.

UPDATE: JULY 4TH - with the temperature registering 96 degrees, you'll be happy (and not at all surprised to know that our family of four spent the morning putting parking stripes on the lot at my husband's business. Nope, not a joke...not kidding at all...I'm COMPLETELY serious. At least this time it wasn't MY idea!

Have a safe and Happy 4th!
Happy Birthday America!



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