Hints for the yard
After smoothing all the edges, between the flagstone (with whatever tool you
prefer), there are three tricks (they will tell you) to making the finished
product look good.
Make that Flagstone Patio or Walkway Look Great
After trips to the "Home-Depot" experts of every store around (and hearing
each of them say, "Gee, I never tried it for that"), I've found something
that works for cement work.
Okay, several books have hints on making a flagstone patio or walk. They
talk about the gravel and sand foundation, and dropping shovel fulls of
concrete onto the sand, and leveling the mixture to about 2 inches thick,
and finally laying the flagstone down. But few books talk about "clean up"
-- without which, this patio or walk will look sick.
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- Use a GOOD paintbrush (never to be used to painting) to
smooth out the edges -- cheap brushes leave parts of themselves in the
concrete. This is not hard to do, and produces an impressive finish.
- Use a sponge to get left over bits of concrete off the
flagstones themselves -- and keep cleaning the water dish, or with each dip,
you'll bring more concrete back from the dish onto the stone. This is a
pain to do, but has good results.
- Use Muriatic Acid and a special acid brush (like a scrub
brush with a broom handle), and brush off the film. This is dangerous,
since the acid is bad stuff. You also need gloves and other protective
gear, and this stuff rinses off into the grass near the patio or walk --
which it then kills.
The trick they DON'T tell you, is simply wait until it's dried (but not
totally cured -- about 2-4 days). Get a small rotary wire brush (the kind
designed for removing rust from metal -- use coarse or fine), and use your
simple hand drill. The film left on the stone blows away. The edges (made
smooth with the paint brush) blend into the stones. And the surface of the
flagstone is not marred or scratched in any way by the brush.
The difference is night and day. We built a 5' wide, 36' long flagstone on
concrete walk, over 3 weeks (with about 24 man-hrs of build a row, let it
dry, build the next, etc.) A few days later, I used the brush on my drill,
and in under 3 hrs, the walk went from okay (nice but messy), to
spectacular. I thought nothing of it, until two professionals visited, saw
it, and asked the secret.
Hope this helps.
Thanks to Steve Calderone for this hint.. posted 7/26/99
Landscaping and Grading
To protect the foundation and prevent leaky basements:
- Keep water ditches (swales) clear of leaves and debris. Don't change the grade.
- Maintain slope of earth away from your home.
- Refill areas that may settle around foundation walls.
- Plant shrubbery two or three feet from the foundation to allow for root system.
- Don't allow sprinklers to wet the house or cause puddles to form alongside the foundation.
- Keep watering of foundation plantings at a minimum.
To protect erosion:
- Plant ground cover and/or shrubbery on hills and banks. Keep lawns in good shape.
- Direct water run-off to avoid washouts.
- If you move your splash blocks, be certain to replace them.
Keep your tools clean
Keep a bucket of dry sand in the tool shed and before you hang up the shovel or hoe drive it into the sand several times and it will remove most of the loose soil from the blade
Our thanks to Roger Ruth for this tip!