We have long pined for a front porch. We just love a walkable, friendly neighborhood, and the best way to take advantage of it is a wonderful front porch, and we don’t have it and frankly, obtaining one is not in the budget. Instead, this was the front of our house:
Some previous owner really, really loved asphalt. It’s on all four sides of our house: the driveway, a big ol’ slab of asphalt directly behind the house, an asphalt sidewalk up against the side of our house on the left, and this diagonal asphalt walkway to the front step. I was looking for a better image of the front steps, because you can’t see it well here, but there were two concrete steps here, and they were crumbling away at the corners. The bottom doorsill was also rotting away (which you can see in the picture above if you squint). And we had some hand-me-down furniture in the front that was cute but not particularly comfortable.
So this was the summer to replace the front steps and create a more inviting patio space while getting rid of the asphalt that we’ve never liked. We got a couple of estimates, and it was approximately a crapton-thousand dollars to have someone do it for us, so Cute W decided it would be a DIY project. A huge DIY project.
First, Cute W had to jackhammer out the concrete steps. As an added fun twist, he saw that the wood against the old steps was rotting. So he ended up pulling that out, replacing it, and covering it with flashing. Then it was on to jackhammering the asphalt. Turned out that there were multiple layers of asphalt. But eventually, he got all of the front sidewalk out.
Meanwhile, we had gone to Dagostino Building Blocks to order materials. There were a lot of materials.
That’s just what got delivered in the back. Meanwhile, we had been clearing out all the vegetation in the front, including a huge bunch of pachysandra, which is a reliable shady ground cover, yes, but it is not native and it has crazy vines that seem perfectly designed to defeat your rototiller. Cute W was going to start with the font steps, so those blocks were dropped nearby for less carrying (they are very heavy).
Cute W fixed that rotting wood, replaced the old siding, leveled out the ground in front, and put the steps in order — looking good!
Then it was time to measure out the patio space. We wanted enough room for a sofa as well as space for people to walk past the sofa to get to the front door. We were ditching the diagonal sidewalk altogether in favor of a sidewalk that would be perpendicular to our driveway. At this point there was a ton of clearing roots and digging to make it all as level as possible.
Once we’d leveled it out, we laid a barrier to try to keep the weeds down.
Then it was time for some gravel and raking that to make it as level as possible.
And finally, time to lay down the pavers! Cut W did the wider main patio area first, then the sidewalk toward the front steps, and at this point he’s about to add the sidewalk toward our driveway.
. . . And. . . done!
Here’s the view from just in front of our front door and looking toward the patio and driveway. We’d already ordered a set of patio furniture; at this point only a few of the pieces had arrived.
Here’s a better view of the “after.”
And here’s the same view a little zoomed out so that you can see two things. First, right in line with the tree you’ll see the lamp that’s been in our front yard since before we bought it. Cute W has never liked this light, and so we can count it as good fortune that whoever installed it didn’t bury the electrical wire nearly deep enough, and for even more good fortune, Cute W didn’t zap himself into oblivion when he rototilled the electrical cord. But that lamp is gone now. Second, in the foreground you can see a few of the wildflowers from the strip I described with our first attempt to go native. Next time I post about the front yard re-vamp, you’ll see the new plantings and the new lighting concept.
This was a long project. It took about eight of Cute W’s weekends, and he was working hard. If you recall me saying that we were exhausted for some of my recent posts because we had Covid and we were traveling and there was a prom, all of those were happening at the same time that Cute W was working on this, too. And while I helped with the more “unskilled” labor — some rototilling, digging, and raking, as well as assembling the patio furniture — most of this was all Cute W. All the neighbors would walk by and comment on his progress. One neighbor came over to ask him if he was a mason. Ha! We are very happy with our lovely hang-out space.