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Reclaimed Slate Patio in a Fort Greene, New York City Back Yard


Reclaimed Slate Patio, Ft. Greene, NY

I do not do many of these projects, but enjoy the stone work. Where frost heave is less of an issue, I think I enjoy it much more! That is the case for this Brooklyn, New York City project. It hardly freezes deeply there, and by heave season, there's isn't typically any frozen ground at all. This project recycled all the slate found sitting under a few inches of soil. These covered over slates are more common in NYC backyards than you may think!


Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder with moss and gardens
Fourteen months after building a client's reclaimed slate patio, the garden looks lush and so does the moss growing between the stones. 



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder excavation
The Fort Greene, Brooklyn backyard looked like this when I arrived. The owner had begun taking garden plants out to create space for the larger slate patio.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder excavation and retaining wall fill
The first task was to gather up all the available slate, removing it to an out of the way corner. Afterward, I excavated soil from the roughly 240 square foot area, distributing it throughout the garden. The perimeter of the new patio was excavated four inches deeper than the subgrade to accommodate the height of the large stones available for the retaining wall.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder proper foundation layers
Bagged gravel and sand had to be hauled through the residence because there was no service passage to the backyard.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder proper foundation layers
Although a Brooklyn backyard is unlikely to freeze deeply, I prefer the practice of preparing a tamped subgrade, gravel subbase, and course sand base to give the slate a sound foundation



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder setting stones to fit is fun
The dry laid wall required me to mate random, uncut stones.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder setting stones to fit is fun
When working only with available on site materials, we can respect our achievements all the more.



eclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder setting stones to customers wishes
The client insisted on the placement of one large stone on the perimeter independent of the wall. 



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder paver base layer
After the free-standing stone was set, the paver base was spread and readied for the slate.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder laying out slate for proper fitment
Dry laid stonework is more art than science. It takes patience and a willingness to rearrange what had already fit in place in order to achieve the whole. This is the essence of gestalt.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder laying out slate complete
Leveling irregular stones is also an art where stones must be constantly lifted, crusher fines added or removed, tamped and tamped again with a rubber mallet.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder laying out slate complete with loose dry "grout"
Once the arrangement has arrived at its best conclusion, crusher fines are added, in the manner of mortar, between the stones. The fines are hosed down a few times to force settlement, bring the grains tightly together, and clean up the dust left on the slate.



Reclaimed slate backyard patio Artist and Builder before and after
Before and after the slate.