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My husband and I are buying a portion of our neighbor's property. Currently, our back yard has this ugly brick wall right by the back, which we are going to tear out. I also want to pull up all the stones in the patio and lay them back down, because they are warped and crooked from years of settling.

Here's a picture.

http://tiptail.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/IMG_4750.jpg

The problem is there's a concrete border around the stones. I'm assuming that we're going to have to hire a landscaping company to tear down the brick wall, and the concrete border that goes with it. I don't know, however, if that concrete edging is part of the house foundation. I don't know how to tell.

Should we have the concrete border torn out? If so, what should I use for a border? I have never put in a stone patio or deck, so it'll be a first project for me. I want to add some area to the stone patio, too.

If we don't tear out the concrete border, what can I do to make it look better? Our yard is a complete mess because everything is torn up while we buy the property, build fencing, etc.

Oh, and I'm in Utah, where it gets quite cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer.

Thanks!

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. You should have enough rep now to add a picture, which would be very useful. (As a new user, if you upload a picture to a photo sharing site like imgur.com, flickr.com, etc. and post a link, an established user can edit it into your post.) – Niall C. Jun 4 '13 at 20:33
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I'm guessing that the patio is quite old ( > 10 years). A concrete border is an effective way of preventing patio stones from drifting away from each other. Other techniques are used by interlock companies today. Some of these are:

  • it's all in the base. With cold winters you can get frost heave which warp the alignment of the bricks that you have. To build an interlock area which will last a long time a base of at least 12" (30 cm) of crushed 5/8" gravel without any stone dust or "fines" is required. This base should be laid in layers and compacted with the heaviest equipment you can get into the yard.
  • the next trick is to extend the base at least 6 " (15 cm) out from the perimeter of the patio area. This reduces the likelihood of drift.
  • some contractors like to use a retaining edge as seen in the link
  • another more subtle solution is to use larger size stones on the perimeter. The larger and heavier the piece the less likely it is to shift.
  • good drainage is essential. Do not drain gutters onto your patio!
  • with a good diamond tipped circular saw blade you should be able to cut portions of the border away that you do not want. If the border is too high rent a contractors cutting saw.

Edit: Now I have seen a picture this looks like more of a rebuild than a rip-and-replace. Here is what I would do:

  • remove the brick wall. A sledgehammer and determination should do the job. Leave the concrete base but cut it down to an appropriate size using a a concrete saw with a diamond tipped blade. (This will probably require some excavation to get room to work)
  • Now is the time to consider running any electrical lines if you want power for water features or other outdoor electrical appliances. Check with qualified contractors for the regulations regarding underground electrical.
  • This is also the time to ask if you need shade in the summer. An arbor or similar structure can provide shade and shelter from winds.
  • You have a natural stone patio. Just lift the stone, verify you have a good base of gravel, add more gravel as required. Rent a compactor and run it over the base. Add some stone dust (~ 1/2 inch (1.5 cm)). Relay the stone. You will have to buy some more and this will be a challenge to get a matching type. Take a sample with you to possible suppliers.

@Itsmatt is right to mention safety equipment. When using a concrete saw I use hearing protection, a helmet with a mesh to protect from flying chips and a dust mask. Hot work but the right thing to do.

Edit: Cynthia asks if she could build over the concrete foundation of the wall. Yes, it is certainly possible if you can cut the wall/foundation at least three or four inches (~9 cm) below the level of the new patio. You need room to lay some stone dust to level the flagstones. As with every project caution is advised as until you get digging you just don't know what you will find. The brick wall will have a foundation and it maybe reinforced with steel rebar making cutting or removal challenging.

  • Good points all the way around. +1 for the diamond blade - that makes pretty quick work of cutting concrete in a neat, clean way. Definitely want to wear a mask for this because there will be some dust even if the concrete is damp. I use a face shield too though that might be overkill. Eye protection is key. You've only got one set of them! :) – itsmatt Jun 5 '13 at 12:32
  • Thanks for the reply.... I was thinking I could get my frustrations out on the brick.. :) But, it might be quite a bit of work! I can cut the concrete down... but, I'd like to actually make the deck a bit bigger than the wall provides on that side... so not sure if I could buy additional stone, and lay it over the concrete, and make a new boarder? – Cynthia Jun 5 '13 at 22:04
  • If you are looking to veneer the concrete with the stone you are in for a bit of work... It is possible though, and with a little bit of effort could look quite nice. – Phlume Mar 19 '14 at 4:10

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