A section of the garden was too sandy and dry for grass to grow on, so I thought i would have a go at creating some raised flower beds with slabs around them to square-off the lawn.
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Step 1: Painting/Treating the Wood
First of all the box sections needed painting. This is with pretty standard fence paint/stain, so I know its weatherproof. I painted the parts that fit together first so i knew it was fully covered and protected. Then i put them together before painting the rest.
Step 2: Measurements and Calculations
Using pretty rough mathematics i tried out different slab sizes in the area to see which would fit well and balance the cost of how many slabs would be need, as well as adding a few extra for any that might break.
The sand was also calculated roughly, the area by the thickness wanted. Then looking at sand density for figure it out roughly by weight.
Step 3: Plotting and Preparing the Ground
I cut the grass in a line and stripped it back to reveal the dirt underneath. There was a couple bricks deep of wall that was buried just under the lawn that had to be dug out, as well as a few patches of cement.
Step 4: Making Sure the Soil Is Level
The only level i had was no where near long enough to measure the ground with, so i bolted it to a straight piece of wood.
Skimming the soil by eye and putting the excess on a tarp so it could be put into the flowerbeds easily later. Then measuring with the level and adding or digging where needed. This is still rough since there would be sand that went on top.
Step 5: Compacting the Soil
I used water to compact the soil since its good at washing the peaks away and draining the water into the dips, depositing the soil the water was carrying. Then as the water drains through the soil to it pull together.
I was hoping for a bit of a liquefaction effect to happen too but i would have needed to put in serious vibrations in order for it to level out like that, and I didn't want to modify a lawnmower to do so.
Step 6: Ordering the Materials
After the rough calculations there was a waiting time to prep the ground before the materials got here, roughly a ton of each slabs and sand. So that was two tons to be moved, by hand, from the front of the house to the back.
Step 7: Making Sand-Castles
I had to use buckets to get the sand from the front of the house to the back, so thought i may as well make a few castles as i did so.
Once i had all the sand on top of the soil, i raked it around so it was roughly even.
Step 8: Making Sure the Sand Is Level
Then the same as i did with the soil, using the level i made sure it was all fairly level and moved sand around as needed.
Step 9: Compacting the Sand
Once i was happy with how even it was, i once again used water to compact the sand like i did with the soil.
Step 10: Laying the Slabs, Badly
The sand wasn't compact enough, when laying the slabs i also walked on the sand which really didn't help. I still laid them all and after a while they didn't settle very well, I reset one row but decided it would be easier if instead i took up all the slabs again, reflatten the sand and reset the slabs.
Step 11: Making Tools
I made a tool out of some spare wood to help flatten the sand, i can use to both rake it across and also to pound the sand down.
Step 12: Making Sure the Sand Is Level and More Compact
After getting the sand really compact and level using the tool i made and also watering it, then repeating a few times to get it to a point where i was happy.
Step 13: Cutting Slabs to Custom Sizes
After laying the slabs, without stepping on the sand, i had one more to go that had to fit around the washing line.
I marked out on the slab in pencil both the center point of the pole and the width of it on each side. Then drew lines from each of those to get a cross point on the tile itself. Then using a compass and the known thickness of the pole i had marked on the slab, i made a circle and filled it in with a dark marker. That way its the most visible it can be when it gets covered by dust.
Once everything is marked out i cut the slab in half, dividing it using the most equal division through the marked out pole to reduce any chance of cracks in the slab. I also cut the slab on grass to try to reduce vibrations that might case cracking.
Step 14: Cutting Slabs to Custom Shapes
To cut out the circle i used a step, but placed down pieces of rubber sheet to reduce vibrations that might case cracks in the slab as i cut.
First i cut in slits to describe the circle, then cut at a slight angle to cut out large chunks. Once the bulk is out of the shape i want i dress the circle carefully with the tool until im happy with the shape.
Step 15: Using Sand to Fill the Gaps
Once all the slabs are down i used dirt and sand to brush into the small gaps between each slab. After that i washed it down so more would settle into the gaps.
Step 16: Complete
As a final touch stones where added around the edges, large stones where chosen as they are better for drainage without getting washed away, but also less likely to be dug into by our pet and neighbouring cats.
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