Earlier this year I had a plan, born of desperation, to expand the planting space available in the garden. In the process I hope to make the garden more attractive. The first stage was to change the line of the path, that was done a month or two back. The next stage was to create a new seating area. Actually this was a means to an end, the real next stage was to create some new borders, but I needed a credible reason to do so first. There are those in my house that don’t see “cos more plants, innit” as sufficient. Weird.

I wanted a circular patio as I thought that would look less formal. I initially planned to just buy a circular paving kit, but those are quite expensive. After a bit of research on the interweb I decided to just use regular house bricks and arrange in a suitable pattern.

I removed a circular patch of grass about 6′ across and levelled it out, which involved digging out quite a bit of sandy topsoil. As it turned out, I did not do a very good job of levelling.

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I compacted the ground just using the head of the sledgehammer, then added an inch or two of concrete.

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Once that was dry I experimented with a few different brick arrangements. Quickly realising that the bricks were too big to make a nice tight circle nearer the centre, I split some of the bricks into thirds. After some discussion, I settled on a design then got busy mixing up the mortar.

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This is where I came a little unstuck. It became apparent that the base wasn’t as level as I thought which meant a lot of mucking about with different depths of mortar to achieve a more-or-less flat finish. A very hot afternoon later, I had finished setting the bricks in the desired pattern. It ended up pretty circular, and pretty level, a minor miracle considering I did it all by eye.

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Next I made up a sandy mortar mix for the pointing which was simply brished into the gaps between the bricks.

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The theory is that the moisture in the air is sufficient to set the mortar, but it has been so dry recently that I have taken to giving it an occasional spray with the hose. A couple of weeks later and it still doesn’t seem to have set completely hard – I’m beginning to wonder if I didn’t use enough cement in the mix. I’ll keep spraying and hope it’ll be ok. Worst case, I’ll have to re-do the pointing, annoying but not a big deal.

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Now finally to the end-game, the digging of the new borders. I opted for a fairly organic curve, partly following the line of the new path. I removed the turf, stacking it out of the way, then mulching with good layer of home-made compost. As I was building this and tweeting nonsense about it, it became known as the Eye of Sauron. Blame a long flight and an umpteenth viewing of one of the LOTR movies.

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I haven’t planted it out yet, that will come soon. To start with, it will be a motley collection of whatever plants I have left knocking about. I have several salvia, some hollyhocks, some dahlia, a few shrubs, some other bits and pieces. I can adjust as needed next spring when I enter my next growing frenzy. My intention is to surround the seating area with plants so that it feels like sitting in the border. I also need to buy a suitable bistro set, and I probably need a stepping stone from the path to the circle, a way across the border and through the planting.

So what next? I originally thought I might dig up the whole of the left side of the lawn, but that is possibly taking it too far. The next stage then will be to create some more planting space along the line of the path. I’m thinking some nice bright geraniums and possibly an arch with rose and clematis clambering up. That will have to wait till later in the year, I think.

I’ll be back in a couple of months with an update.

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