I’m going a little out-of-order, but let me tell you about the final project I hired a professional for. I swear I did 95% of the yard myself! I did have to hire out tree removal, demo of the asphalt road, paving the new asphalt driveway, and installing a stamped concrete porch and apron in front of the garage. But, I’m telling you, there was so much left to do after this! If you’ll recall, this is what the property looked like when we bought it. I always hated the way it was all chopped up. The concrete in front of the garage hit the concrete porch step at one point, leaving a square void of dirt. What the?? I also hated that people (read “my parents”) would pull their cars up and park on the asphalt directly in front of the stairs. Come on — we’ve got all this flippin asphalt and you need to park right there? Every time.
This was the layout I envisioned in my head. No more chopped up concrete, dirt, asphalt. No more people parking their cars right at my front door. But most importantly, the curve of the asphalt would now be (almost perfectly) symmetrical. The horseshoe is certainly symmetrical enough to fool the eye. I really like the look and practicality of stamped concrete. This job would have cost much more and would not have lasted as long if it had been done it in pavers. And yes, I totally contemplated doing it myself. In the end, I love how it turned out. We can still drive on the concrete, but it also looks really nice, at least I think so. And hey, I’m the one who lives here. I don’t usually drive on it too much since there’s so much crap in our garage our cars never go inside it. But on days like today, when I’m unloading a million Girl Scout cookies from my trunk, it’s super nice to back my car right up to the step.
This is how we lived with it for a few years. This is before we did any major construction. You’ll notice I filled in those dirt areas with stone. The same stone I’ve moved all over the property a million times.The kids would play out front and I’d draw my dream driveway in chalk. After we had the driveway and concrete removed, we lived with it like this for a year before we got the stamped concrete done. You can see another one of my chalk lines marking where I wanted the asphalt cut.And then it was time to finish things up. Originally, we weren’t planning to totally redo the porch, but I quickly learned that adding a layer of concrete on top of the existing porch was not a good idea. I hemmed and hawed for months about how I could fix up the porch to tie in with the new stamped area below, but in the end I had the porch torn out and it all stamped the same way. You can see one of the guys making a saw cut along my chalked out line. Using a straight blade to make a curved line is not so easy. I was glad I wasn’t doing it. The install didn’t go as smoothly, unfortunately. The contractor had never done an overhang on a porch before. He tried to pour all the concrete in one day, which obviously was cheaper, but was not the proper way to handle this situation. If you have an overhang, you need to leave the forms (pieces of wood held in place with metal rods) on the sides of the porch until the concrete sets up. However, when you are stamping concrete, you need to do the stamping while the concrete is still wet. He tried to work around this by stamping up to, but not under, the forms. I was horrified with the results. After a month of me repeatedly calling the contractor, he did come back and fix it as best he could without tearing the whole thing up. He did tear out the step (there’s only one) and put in a new one that was about two feet wider. The added width covered up some of the unsightly area. The first step he did looked horrible where it met the porch. There was a 2″ scar where the forms had been. The new step was much better. You can still see the scars on either side of the step, but I usually have a planter there anyway. The contractor blamed the overhang, I blamed him. But he handled the whole thing professionally, and tried to fix it. I ended up paying half the estimate and we called it even.
To complete the makeover, I painted the front doors black. Note the sawdust in front of the garage. I think I was building the partition in the laundry room at the time.And a few shots to remind us all that it will get warm again. Eventually.