masonry phase of the Tuscan Veranda Project
started out as some brick and paving
stone borders around the north side of the house so
that I could start planting stuff.
Eventually I had intended for the border to morph into a larger paving stone patio but I
have so many project
priorities that the patio
phase isn't even on the construction
project started in February
2010 when I
paving stone border around
the north side of the
villa. Because the roof
had two drainspouts in this
area, I also had to
build a couple of
concrete drain dams.
forward three and a half years and you
can see how the creeping fig that I planted in this
spot has taken over.
Back to February 2010, the north side is
completed and back-filled with gravel.
One mistake that I made here was believing that
landscape fabric would deter weed growth. After more than three years of constantly
pulling weeds from this section, I have concluded that the landscape
fabric is completely useless
for that purpose. The next photo also shows
one of the trellises that I built for the star
jasmine to climb.
The next photo
shows the west-facing part of the project,
also featured in the Tuscan
Veranda: Grapes project, as well as another
trellis. One note about this picture:
the plant next to the trellis is a
Lady Banskia Rose.
What I didn't realize at the time
was that at full height, it can grow
15-20 feet tall. After the second
year, it was pushing 15 feet and had
completely taken over this area.
Unfortunately, I was forced to
uproot it and replace it with
something less aggressive.
part of the project, I didn't do any masonry for about three years until November 2012.
Because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with
the north and west sides of the villa, I moved to the
south side and just started building. The next picture is BEFORE work begins.
The project starts with a lot of
Then I poured concrete footings, partially to support the
weight of the bricks but also to provide a baseline for
I finally begin laying bricks in December 2012. I learned all of my masonry skills from
YouTube videos but even so, I made a lot of mistakes. My
maiden voyage into masonry is
documented in the Crisis Garden project, which
looks OK from a distance but you
can tell I didn't really know what I was doing if
you look closely. Part of my reason
for resuming the masonry project on
the south side of the house is that it is the least
visible and that I could work out all (or most) of
By January, I had completed the entire south side and
began wrapping around to the west side. Part of the
engineering in this project includes a wash trench at the
base of the wall where water from storms
There was a lot of ground to cover on the
west-facing side. This is the BEFORE picture.
The AFTER picture, four
In May 2013, I finally reached my
stopping point for Phase 1 at the patio.
I'm not quite sure yet what I will
build for Phase 2 but I do know that I wanted some
simple stairs from the BBQ area down to the trail.
The next photo is a dry mock-up so
I know the size of the footing to build.
Finally in June 2013,
Phase 1 is complete. I
had intended to build round planters to flank the
stairs, which would have involved a
lot of brick trimming so I took the easy route and
made the planters rectangular. I
also bought a couple of brick-sized,
low-voltage step lights, which I probably won't
hook up to a landscape
transformer until Phase 2.