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Summer Interns: Earth Shelter Limestone Patio

Sky Pisarski

Sky Pisarski

Summer Intern 2019

Work resumed early this morning on the Earth Shelter’s limestone patio. Installing the patio is somewhat similar to the installation of tiles- it requires level ground to place the stones upon, and once arranged, mortar will fill in the gaps. However, unlike the symmetry that can be expected from traditional square tiles, the limestones are eclectic in shape, size and texture. Some of the limestone rocks were artfully arranged by builder Hassan Hall in 2013, the work was continued by former summer interns. A small percentage of the patio, nearest to the shelter, were also previously mortared in place.

The first step was to remove tall weeds that had made themselves at home around the perimeter of the patio, as well as in-between unmortared stones. The patio was then cleared of long-standing supplies and swept of debris. After admiring both the progress and potential of the project, Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture led the group in creating a simple grid system of strings, strung taught lengthwise and widthwise. This system is a low-tech way to assure stones are seated level to each other, and at a slight downward slope which will allow water to flow off. 

Finally, we began to assess each stone. Most needed gravel underneath to raise and level it, and a mix of larger gravel rocks and sifted grit were used. Some stones were tamped down, and some took several attempts to achieve a satisfactory result. The work became more efficient and pleasurable as we gained experience. The results were checked against the grid system and adjustments were made. After several hours, about a third of the area was leveled and ready to be mortared. We finished up for the day as the temperature climbed into the 90’s. Personally, I felt grateful to reach a stopping point, but also for the budding new skills and visible progress to enjoy. Work on the patio is projected to continue with the additional help of summer work-traders. Stay tune