Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

outdoor diy Archive



August 2016

Dry Lay Stone Bench, Patio Edition, Part 1

Written by , Posted in Gardening

If you’ve been following along, earlier this Spring, Wes built the most beautiful DIY dry lay stone bench by one of the large trees in our yard. You can see the progress here and here, and now, he’s working on another stone bench, this time by our patio.

the beginnings of a dry lay stone bench

When he suggested the idea, I was all for it. Wes and I both love the old European, timeless feel of a dry lay stacked stone bench. There’s something so captivating about the ancient art of dry laying stones. Wes has a real talent in this area, and I can’t wait to show you the finished product.

marking the outline of our dry lay stone bench

Since we already had a pile of stones by the patio, Wes took some time to reconsolidate the collection according to their shape (and use) and prepare the foundation. He kept the larger, more flat rocks on the bottom to support the overall bench (like a float).

selecting stones for the dry lay bench

The art of dry lay stone stacking involves using smaller wedge-shaped (pins) stones to pin up the larger boulders. If you’re planning to try a DIY project like this in your own yard, best practice is to always prep your foundation first (level out dirt, add smaller gravel, pebbles, and then test which stones will work best in the system).

selecting stones for our dry lay bench

A good rule of thumb to remember when building a dry lay stone bench is that every rock or stone has its place. In the photo above, to the right of Wes’s hand, is a long stone called a through. Throughs stabilize the wall by tying the exterior weight to the interior weight of the stone system. (The longer the better.)

dry lay stone bench before the cap is poured

When he’s building a dry lay stone structure, Wes puts emphasis on the positive slope of the stones leaning in to one another towards the centre of the wall (or in this case, bench). This way, the bench or wall is always leaning into itself. Walls created from a dry lay or “drystone” lay have stood for hundreds of years in Europe and are still standing today. You just require the right foundation on which to build.

dry lay stone bench with cement cap

How you complete your DIY dry lay stone wall or bench is personal preference. Because of the location of proximity to the sitting area on our patio, we thought it wise to complete our dry stack stone bench with a cement cap. Bonus: Extra seating when company comes over! If you are planning to pour a concrete cap, be sure to “hoard” materials between the top stones on your wall that are round. This will prevent any concrete from running and will preserve a clean edge for your cap.



July 2016

5 Inspiring Outdoor Fire Pits to Add to Your Back Yard

Written by , Posted in Gardening

With Summer in full swing, we’re spending as much time outdoors as possible. One thing on the horizon is a fire pit, if ever we can find the time! We’re big fans of natural stone, so planning our fire pit does not involve any kind of pre-fab “kit”. Rather, we’re considering a dry lay, similar to the dry lay stone bench that Wes has been working on. Check out my Outdoor Living board on Pinterest for more fire pit inspiration, and in the meantime, these are 5 amazing fire pits that have really got me feeling inspired!

1. Fire Pit by the water. I’m not a huge fan of pea gravel, but I do love the set up of this fire pit. The sectioned-off area creates definite separation from the grass, and I absolutely love the dry lay of the actual fire pit. Accented with some fantastic colonial red chairs and log side tables, this fire pit is sure to be a spot for making memories.

fire pit

img via Fieldstone Hill Design Darlene Weir

2. Fire pit and bench. Outdoor seating doesn’t always have to be done with chairs, so it makes complete sense that this fire pit has a complementary surround in the same style. Again, I’m not a huge fan of gravel, but in this situation it works.

fire pit

img via indulgy.com

3. Dry lay fire pit. This fire pit is amazing! Check out the intricate details that went into this fire pit. It features some detailed arches and bottom vents to keep air flowing and fire glowing. Absolutely love this set up, and I think it would look great with a flagstone surround.

fire pit

img via Jessica Little House Big Heart

4. Flat and flush fire pit. While I’m more a fan of a fire pit that really stands out, I also appreciate the simplicity of this fire pit, which lays almost flush with the interlocking stone surround. There’s something to be said of this circular set-up, and I especially like that it’s at the end of a walk out with one stone step. Complementary landscaping around finishes the look and adds privacy.

fire pit

img via sunlitspaces.com

5. Built in fire pit. Speaking of privacy, this fire pit is actually built into a stone wall surround with some serious foliage behind. For a property on the road or bordering another home, this set up would be ideal. The stone wall surround means extra seating, and the open front of this fire pit provides plenty of heat.

fire pit

img via Better Homes and Gardens