Advisory: this post begins with a picture of a old women standing outside in her pajamas holding a birthday banner.


If you can look past the (embarrassed) PJ-clad birthday lady, I’d like to point out the hodge podge cement/asphalt patio that she (read: I’m) standing on. Yikes! In the rear, a 12 x 10 asphalt pad leads to where a garage once stood, but now ends abruptly in the grass.

This is the inherited state of the backyard that we finally decided to address this spring; not least of all because the sunken pad was allowing water to slowly drain into our basement every time it rained.

remove sq

On a whim, Jeff posted the cement patio stones on Kijiji on evening in April. 30 minutes later, they were gone. Hooraw, but also, oh no! The project had officially started whether we were ready or not. (We opted to keep four stones as a temporary entry for the back door).

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Removing the patio stones still left us a pretty nasty mess of sand, gravel, patched cement and asphalt.

more concrete

Where the asphalt was thin (2″) a bit of pitchfork leverage and a few smacks with the breaking bar broke it into pieces. It was A LOT of grunt work that revealed two more layers of concrete. Ack! The joys of a century home. Case in point, can you guess where the former stairs were in the photo below? #Doortonowhere


We bought a diamond blade for the circular saw to cut the newly exposed concrete and score straight lines along the driveway pad that we planned to keep. Then… more smashing… a lot more smashing.. piling.. and sore backs.


But, even in this state, things were starting to look a little better; sort of. After having lifted each piece of debris out of the ground and then shifting each piece into a pile, we moved onto hauling each friggin’ piece into the back of the truck.

full truck

Poor truck. That’s 4000lbs (2 tonnes) of concrete taking a pit stop before hitting the dump, where we unloaded each, friggin’ piece. If you’re keeping track, because I certainly did, we moved 4000lbs of debris four times, by hand. Ugh.

As an aside, before we started demo I, naively, thought we could just slowly put the concrete out with our regular garbage, week by week. Ha! Talk about an underestimate.


But look! Look at that clean slate. We dug out the grass a little further into the yard to allow us to grade about 10 feet away from the house. Savvy folks would have noticed the blue tarp sitting in the driveway (above). The tarp was, of course, covering 5 yards of screened topsoil. So, out came the rusty wheelbarrow to haul load after load of dirt into place.


It was a lot of work, way more than I thought actually, but it felt great to get it cleaned up and ready for some grass seed. Spoiler: it’s been a few weeks since we finished and the grass has come up really nicely thanks to all of the rain we got in May and early June.

We eventually want to install a new patio, but for now, the grading issue has been addressed (so far, no water in the house!) and we’re happy to take it slow while the weather is nice. Bring on the mojitos!


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