When house projects fail…Build a $5 bike crate!

This post was never supposed to happen…Instead the plan was to reveal our DIY concrete planters. (Sort of like these)

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What I thought would be a brilliant idea for cheap and light weight planter boxes, turned into a cracked mess of gravel and concrete. (Which of course I spent the afternoon cleaning up)

Shortly after, I was scratching my head and wondering what am I going to do with 12 sets of wooden handles, and 6 plastic garbage cans?

How about use the wooden handles for a wine crate? What if the wine crate was attached to a bike?

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See the hubs has a vintage bike, used mainly for cruising around town with the guys. Yet his bike has been sorely lacking in storage and beer hauling capabilities.

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Alas when searching the web for instructions, there weren’t any for “easily” removable bike wine crates. So here is our how-to for the $5 bike wine crate:

You’ll need…
2 wooden 1×1 inch dowels (cut to the width of your bike rack)
2.5 inch screws and accompanying nuts (4 total)
Some wood stain
A wooden wine crate
1 inch screws and accompanying nuts (2 total)
An empty paint quart (or empty vegetable can with no sharp edges may work)

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First I stained the wine crate and dowels (since I had already drilled the holes in the dowels)

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After we let the stain dry overnight, we added the 2.5 inch screws to the dowels. We also darkened the tips of the screws with a sharpie so we could mark the wine crate for drilling holes.

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We then drilled holes in the bottom of each crate.

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And secured the crate with a wrench and nuts.

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(You can see how the crate is secured to the dowels from the bottom)

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Finally we drilled holes through the paint can and bottom of box.

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Then secured the can with the 1 inch screws and nuts.

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The bike is now ready for picnics, commuting with coffee and “booze” cruisin with the guys.

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Not bad for $5 and 15 minutes to install right? Happy Sunday everyone!

Did you miss us? Where are we today…

Summer is nearly over! Hopefully you’re all out doing something amazing this Labor Day weekend! We’ve spent the last couple Sundays trying to squeeze in as little diy labor and as much summer fun with the pups as possible. (Sorry folks we’ll be back to tackling fall house projects soon enough) Today we’re hiding out over at Studiogblog.com a website all about beautifully designed gardens and fabulous backyard inspiration.

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We were thrilled when they asked to feature our (nearly) dog proof backyard makeover! The website is just gorgeous, filled with gardening inspiration, and is an absolutely addicting website. Send LHBD some love, leave a comment or like us on FB, while you’re checking out studiogblog.com In the meantime the pups and us wish you all a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend! Happy Sunday everyone!

Happy Dogs, Vintage Trailers and Chicken Soup

What do they all have in common?

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Give up yet? We did not lift a diy finger at all this weekend. Instead we spent time with the pups, laying on couches, and eating chicken soup while we tried to get over our summer colds. I also spent way too much time on Pinterest. (The best way to mindlessly waste a Sunday afternoon when sick) Our few ventures out of the house this weekend were to pick up a craigslist shell for the truck…

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( Wait did she just say truck?! Aren’t they little car people?) Yes, finally after 6 long years, we pulled the trigger and bought a used truck. You’d think after a couple fixer homes and monstrous dogs, a truck would’ve been very practical.

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Now both us and especially the pups are in love. The world of camping and adventures has been opened up to us. Including the dream of owning and restoring a vintage trailer.

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I’ve been blog stalking Kristiana of Silvertrailer.com ever since she’s been featured in Sac Magazine 4 years ago. Her air streams are just gorgeous!

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However renovating these beauties are a bit pricey, and towing them even more so. Considering we’re tent campers by experience, I’ve turned my interest towards the idea of renovating a tent trailer. Compact, light weight, and inexpensive (used), renovating a tent trailer seems like a great baby step towards an actual airstream someday. Especially when there are so many cute ideas floating about on Pinterest…

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(Via Pinterest)

If you follow us on Pinterest you’ll see our outdoor adventure board filling up with all these wonderful sources of inspiration. The idea of renovating another little home “on wheels” is such motivation to save our pennies, and break out the tool box…I think once I’m over this cold the DIY sickness will strike again…Happy Sunday everyone!

Big Dogs Best Travel Gear

No DIY this weekend! No house projects or crafts! Just good ol’ relaxing and quality time spent with pups. We realized the summer is speeding past us and we can count only two weekends away with the dogs.

Speaking of which, if you aren’t yet following us on Pinterest, we have an inspiration board devoted to dog friendly travel. However traveling with two large dogs in tow is not always the easiest…At least without the right gear. Therefore we rounded up our favorite dog gear for easy camping, and travel with the pups.

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1. Natures Miracle Port-A-Crate

These crates have been crucial for stress free, dog friendly travel. The crates are durable, light weight and easily fold flat to fit into car trunks. Here is our crate after 5 years of wear and tear, and it still looks fabulous.NATURES-MIRACLE-Port-A-Crate-Dog-Crate-.jpg

When the dogs see the crates getting packed in the car they know it’s vacation time!

2. Armarkat Pet Bed w Waterproof Lining, Non Skid Base

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We think we finally found the perfect dog beds to fit inside the crates. Supposedly waterproof, washable, and durable orthopedic dog beds. We’ve used egg crate mattress toppers and pillows to make due over the last few years but as the dogs are now “middle aged” we figured we’d invest in some age appropriate beds for them.

3.Easy walk dog harnesses

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These front lead dog harnesses are perfect for long hikes. The dogs pull less than the traditional back lead harnesses and less strain on their backs/necks for tireless hiking.

4. OllyDog Mt Tam Hands-Free Dog Leash and Running Belt System

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Believe it or not these were on our wedding gift registry at REI. Perfect for runs on the beach with fido, we added carabiners to the leash ends for easier clipping in and out of the harness. The pack has just enough room for an iphone, hotel key and plastic baggies for poop duty.

5. Precision Pet Eight Panel Silver Wire Pen

 

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This is another new product for us. The verdict is still out for whether these wire pens can stand-up to our two huge dogs . However when camping these seem to beat long tethers that they can get tangled in. (We’re going to try staking them to the ground for added support)

6. Musher’s Secret

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This wax is amazing! Cracked paws begone! It saves our pups paws on the trail and general protection from long distance walks. Since our dogs won’t wear booties, this is the most economical and best option for paw protection.

7. OllyDog Dog Pack – Large – 2014 Overstock

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These were another favorite from our wedding registry, that allow for easy hiking. The pups can carry they’re water and kibble in comfort. Maybe even a beer can or two. (hey the dogs need to earn their keep once in a while)

8. Remedy+Recovery Liquid Bandage For Dogs

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This stuff is essential for travel first aid. I can’t tell you how many times our dogs cut a leg or paw on rocks, tree branches, etc. The liquid bandage is a quick remedy and dries fast. (We never leave on trips without it)

9 . Ruffwear The Beacon Pet Light

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Finally the last of our favorite travel gear is the beacon light. Why? Ever try to see your black dog at night? Well our dobes have the perfect night camouflage so these are essential for safety and night time walks.

Hope our little list has helped all you dog parents out there. We are always on the search for great gear and ways to travel stress free with your dogs. Happy Sunday everyone!

Be Careful of What You Promise Husbands…

Hubbs (Eric) had but one request when we first moved into our home…He asked that the living room “doesn’t look girly.” It’s taken a year to understand what that means to me (no floral prints, salmon colored anything, white furniture, etc) Luckily this is a style request we both agree on and find marital bliss with “masculine”. To this point our “style” has been more like “hand-me-down-chic”. We’re only now realizing we’re in our thirties and the house needs to look less like a college dorm and attempt to decorate.

My biggest decorating quandary had been the living room…(specifically the walls)

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(I snapped this pic on a morning running out the door to work, no staging, no cleaning.) As you can see a guy lives here. However this is still the first room upon entering the house so something needed to be done.

Except I ignored the room for two more years, until one fateful day this spring and found something ridiculously amazing…

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Four original blue prints of our 1948 home rolled up and hidden in a cabinet!

I’ve been in love with blue prints as art for years!

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OK how ridiculously cute dogs even look as blue prints! (Imagine a high pitched squeal of delight)framed-blue-print-of-dog.jpg

 

It must have been kismet to find these blue prints and finally a solution for “masculine” looking art work. Michaels coupons in hand I was able to score four beautiful frames and matting for $60.  Then up on the wall they went!

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Now another Before…

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And After…

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I think we can all agree the room looks a bit more “mature”, less hand me down chic, and definitely that a guy lives here. Someday there will be a perfectly staged photo that belongs in Sunset magazine or House beautiful, but for now I’m just happy I have decorated walls and it’s clean! Happy Sunday everyone!

 

Even Guys Need Roses…Or Rather Mancave Storage

How to show a guy you love and appreciate him?diamond-plate-truck-storage-box-diy-project-turned-garage-storage.jpg

By bringing home a $15 truck tool box from a garage sale! Com’on what self respecting man doesn’t like diamond plate? It’s practically on every tractor, fire engine, and monster truck!

Luckily hubby knew this was a man cave project for him and not going to be some random piece of junk about to collect dust. He loved the idea even more when I told him what it was going to replace in the garage…

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These disgustingly old, spider harboring, rubbermaids. The truck box was going to be storage for the camp chairs, extra golf clubs and other Mancave randomness.

I did have to make some modifications to the truck storage box, before cramming it full of boy junk. First I marked the bottom corners of the storage box with a sharpie, where the cart wheels were going to be placed.truck-storage-diamondplate-turned-garage-storage-diy-ideas.jpg

Next I drilled holes at each sharpie point.

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Since the flecks of metal and remnants were sharp I cleaned up with a handheld vacuum after each set of holes (to prevent metal splinters finding their way into the pups paws)

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Then using washers, screws, and nuts, we added the four cart wheels, then securing them on the inside of the box.

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This turned out to be one of the easiest DIY man cave projects year to date! (I also got a few wife points in the process.) It’s not everyday that I bring home garage sale junk that is hubby approved. Now the before and newly improved garage storage…

Before

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After

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Who knew diamond plate was the man equivalent of “roses”, and not just for monster trucks anymore?

Happy Sunday everyone!

Small California Backyard Transformation: Water wise and Dog Proof!

It all started with a stressful day, one fed up dog “mama” and a shovel…small-backyard-water-wise-and-dog-friendly-makeover-before-pic-.jpg

What should’ve been a quick project, or rather a band aid, for our lawn destroyed by two huge pups…Turned into a week long project of; a few broken toes, half dozen trips to the Home Depot, two bottles of wine and several expletives.

However the end result has been amazing! We now have a  beautiful, water wise, (nearly) dog proof backyard…That we will never have to mow again!

Before we reveal some final pics, we have another great Ikea hack and our new pergola to share.

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We originally wanted to build a pergola from redwood, but reigned our DIY dreams in and realized this project was big enough. We then started hunting for a prefab steel pergola (that was budget friendly). Sears seemed to have the best option for our dimensions…It was also free delivery and on sale! SCORE! (FYI-Last time I looked these pergolas are still available at the same price)

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It comes in a box and was super easy to assemble with 3-4 people…We had only 2, a ladder, and several bungee cords. Without going into the gory details, just take our advice and bribe a few friends with beer and pizza before you attempt to assemble one of these on your own.

However we managed to get the steel beast up with only minor injuries…

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The next part of the project was to “sew” a custom pergola canopy…And when I mean “sew” that’s code for hacking something from Ikea. In this case we found the Ikea Dyning balcony wind barriers. These are meant to line your balcony or deck railing, but because of their dimensions, and crisp white outdoor fabric they were perfect as a draped canopy. Also at only $12 each on summer clearance, they are cost effective compared to other ready made pergola canopies.

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Super easy to install and drape, we will probably take them down at the end of each summer.

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Now we finally have a cabana-esque, pergola ready for cocktails and summer BBQs… Our before and after pics…

BEFORE…

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AFTER…

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There are still several more backyard projects to do and little plants to grow, before we have those  “perfect” After pictures. However we couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made and money saved by putting in the labor now. We’re so excited to finally enjoy our low maintenance, dog proof yard. We also hope we inspired a few people to consider a lawn-free, water wise backyard. Cheers! enjoying-the-new-backyard-with-a-glass-of-red-wine-california-small-dog-friendly-water-wise-backyard-make-over.jpg

To a Happy Summer and Happy Sunday everyone!

 

 

 

 

THIS DROUGHT IS FOR REAL!…Beautiful and Water-wise Backyards

Fourth of July Weekend was a bit of a reality check (and even a little scary) for us…

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This is a massive tree branch that fell from our front yard tree, due to “summer drop” an event that can commonly occur in hot and drought conditions. We are regulated by the city to water only twice a week, which can cause stress to trees during the hot summer months…Next was this…wild-fires-in-california.jpg
A nasty little wildfire that came a bit too close to home, and if the wind had been blowing a different direction, could have easily jumped the river in the 100+ degree heat.

If we had any doubts of losing the lawn in the backyard, they are completely gone now. In fact these events only solidified our love for drought tolerant, water wise gardens. Yet many people equate “water-wise” with dry, cacti, or desert. Yet drought tolerant can be lush and beautiful…

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elegant lush drought tolerant backyard

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We also love lush and tropical gardens. Luckily you can have both beauty and the tropics with water wise gardens. By planting with palms, grasses, succulents, etc you can find plants that can mimic tropical foliage and flowers. Now let me introduce you to our newest garden editions…

 

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Meet “Juan”, (our Queen Ann palm which was bought for a steal of a deal at $50) and these little cuties…

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They were part of the Smart Planet plant line at Home Depot, plants specifically tailored for water wise gardens. Now here they are happy in their new home…

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We also deviated a bit by adding a Bird of paradise, (closest to the palm for the extra water run off), Canas, hardy Agapanthas and Fortnight lilies. cana-tropicana-in-drought-tolerant-full-sun-garden.jpg
The Canas, and Kangaroo paw really help bring a unique and the tropical look to the yard. Another great trick to achieving a lush yard, and prevent water loss, is by laying large stones and boulders. In our case we used 2 cubic yards of 6 to 12 inch river cobbles and boulders called Feather rock. (A volcanic rock that looks heavy but is actually very light)

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We chose larger rocks and boulders, rather than mulch or smaller stones because it makes for easier yard clean up in the fall. (literally the leaves are so crazy that we use a snow shovel not a rake) Also boulders and rocks are fabulous for deterring pups from napping on the new plants. (Sutter thinks my flax plants make great pillows)
All in all, we hope we inspired you to go water-wise and will be sharing some of the final project pics soon. Happy Sunday everyone!

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The Dogs Will Be Alright…Tips for Losing the Back Lawn

Disclaimer: This blog post contains “potty talk”…

We were asked by a neighbor, “if the dogs will be alright with losing their lawn?” Which is actually a legitimate question considering the back yard is where many dogs spend the majority of their lives, and also dogs can be picky about their…ahem…potty routines. beginning-the-drought-tolerant-garden.jpg

As you can see in the picture, (photo bombed by Sutter marking the trumpet vines) our dogs have no shame about their routines, especially after their morning kibble kicks in.  Last year we installed privacy screens in order to hide telephone poles but also set aside area for the pups to patrol and do their business. Unfortunately they liked the lawn more and proceeded to destroy it.

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Yet with the flagstone installed, most of our backyard is now hardscape, forcing our two pups to actually use the raised garden bed behind the privacy screens…Yay for less mess!

We think the biggest quandary and concern for many dog owners when deciding on losing the back lawn is where will the dogs either roll around, play or drop a deux. Yet we’ve found as long as there is some non-hardscape space set aside, the dogs will be ok.

However some dogs are really picky, so we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to losing the lawn.

TIP #1 TRICK THEM BY LAYING GROUND COVER

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There are several great options of tough ground cover that can stand up to dog wear and tear. By planting ground cover around stepping stones this can trick your dog into thinking its lawn. The best place to find suitable ground cover is start with your local nursery. Drought tolerant options include; woolly thyme, silver carpet, miniature sedum, and snow in summer. If your dog is prone to eating plants and ground cover check with the ASPCA’s toxic plant list for details on each of the plants listed.

TIP #2 GIVE THEM GRASS

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Some dogs eat grass to aid in their digestion, which is why homeowners may feel the need for lawn. This is a trick I’ve recently learned, but many apartment dwellers are familiar with…If your dog is a grass eater, grow grass in a  pot. However the size of the pot matters, large, heavy, stable and wide diameter pots are the best for grass grazing pooches. Keep the pot in a sunny spot and where it will least likely to be knocked over.

TIP #3 MAKE IT AN INTERESTING PLAY SPACE

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If you’re worried losing the lawn will mean less play space and less potty space, fear not. Based on your breed type, dogs don’t necessarily need lawn to have a good time or go potty. Our Dobermans are natural guard dogs, and love to run around patrolling the fence perimeter, which is why we built privacy screens and left the back garden beds for potty space. Also you may find lawn isn’t really necessary to make a backyard fun for dogs . Water dogs may just need a kiddie pool, diggers might need a sandbox and other breeds just want to sunbathe. The main point is to keep the backyard interesting and tailored to the needs of your dogs.

TIP #4 GRAVEL MAKES A GREAT LITTER BOX

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Other alternatives to lawn are pea gravel and DG (decomposed granite) which can act like big huge litter boxes for dogs. One of the reasons many dog parks are made entirely of gravel is due to good absorption and the drainage it provides. Also many dogs love to lay in gravel, and sun bathe in it. A couple downsides are that it can get a little messy when kicked up, dusty and invite the neighborhood cats into your backyard.

All in all our dogs have been alright since we’ve lost the backyard lawn. The trade off has been; ensure there is plenty of shade, and areas to sun themselves, enough space to play and potty, fresh water sources, and tough, drought tolerant plants that can withstand our bruisers. We hope our tips have helped a few homeowners out there. We’ll be showing more pics of the back yard make-over as the summer progresses. In the meantime HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE!

 

Gator Done!… (Laying a Flagstone Patio)

Disclaimer: Corny jokes and awful word puns reside at this blog. Especially after laying a flagstone patio, and the celebratory wine kicks in…

Here is where we left off…removing-weeds-and-sod-in-backyard.jpg
A barren wasteland of dirt that was once weed infested grass…There were two options, resod and start fresh, or get creative and drought “appropriate”…We went with option número dos.

If you haven’t heard, Northern California is under extreme drought conditions and even though there is talk of El Niño (freakish storm systems that finally bring rain every five years). We knew we’d be back to drought conditions again.

Also there are still these two hams to consider…floppy-ear-dobermans-begging-for-a-treat.jpg
 

Who were responsible for this…

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In our previous home we knew flagstone works for both us and the two bruisers. They like to sunbathe, we like less dust and dirt. However with this go- around we’d change it up a bit. Instead of real flagstone and piles of DG (decomposed granite) we’d opt for the faux flagstone and a product called Gator dust.

Why? Well, to be honest as we’re getting older we appreciate the easier and less expensive approach to projects. Plus Gator dust is a polymeric stone dust that hardens to a mortar-like joint when in contact with water. YAY FOR LESS DUST!

Heres how the project started…It began with multiple trips to Home Depot in (tiny cars) for many loads of Canyon oak faux flagstone, bender board, all purpose sand, and weed block. (This is when I sing, “some day my truck will come” and hubby rolls eyes…We’re saving up for one as we speak)

Followed by laying down said bender board, weed block, leveling sand, and the flagstone.

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Once the flagstone is squared away, and you’re happy with the layout…(For any other uber-analytical, perfectionists out there, setting the flagstone was the worst part) “Honey wait I need to rotate that one 36 degrees!”

Then follow the instructions on the gator dust bag. Dump a bag on the flagstone, sweep, and repeat. Making sure all joints, cracks and crevices are filled and level with the stones. (Just remember if your flagstone joints are up to 4inches, use the “large joint” gator dust)

Then spray the stones, by carefully following the water schedule explained in the directions. Once done with the water, using a powered blower, blow the remaining puddles away.
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Let the patio cure for 24-48 hours, keeping the pups off it (if it’s even possible). Then sit back and enjoy with a glass of well deserved vino. Cheers and Happy Sunday everyone!

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