Backyard Part Four: Laying Pavers

Finally for the installment to show it all come together! We left off here  with our filled, compacted, and prepped patio base. The purpose of the compacted gravel is to give a nice, solid base so that (hopefully) we won’t see any settling or sinking in the near future. The layer of sand on top is thinner and its real purpose is to give a softer surface for each individual paver to “set”, and to level out on a more local level. So, we spread the sand evenly with the knowledge that we might be moving it around a little as we went.

We chose simple 8″x16″x2″ rectangular poured concrete pavers from Home Depot. Mainly, and I’ll be honest, because this was outright the cheapest option we could find. We’re coming to the end of our “Year 1” budget and looking to do this simply. If you can’t afford to do something REALLY nicely (stamped concrete, flagstone, etc), you might as well go the opposite end of the spectrum and save up for when you can do it. Back in our backyard design post we showed that we were imagining a basketweave pattern, and thats what we ended up sticking with. It gives a nice pattern, but not too crazy. Plus, the best bonus is no cutting of pavers!

Throughout the weekend we  stocked up on pavers a few car-loads at a time (80-90 is about how many fit in the back of either of our cars); we needed 272 total. Then, the best most grueling part of the whole weekend was carrying these from the driveway, up a level of uneven concrete stairs, to the backyard.

And then: began laying. We did the first long row, and the first short row, in order to make sure we had a nice square edge, and worked inward from there.

The three most crucial tools for us during this project were a short level (this we could level each individual paver but also across seams), leather gloves for handling pavers, and a rubber mallet to gently tap each piece to level. Installing the pavers actually went relatively quickly, it took about 6 hours total, but on a sunny summer day it was nice to be out in the back yard about that long.

One suggestion that came from D’s dad was to avoid the plastic and aluminum edgers that hardware stores sell to DIY Patio Installers such as ourselves. These cost about $8 for each 6′ length, which would have ending up costing us about $75. Plus, these have to go in first which is restricting and they don’t last forever. Instead, he suggested we buy a cheap back of quikrete and pour into a trench on all sides. This creates a concrete curb of sorts, but you can leave it low enough so that you can put soil and grass over top. Its a little hard to see in the photo below (the dark gray is concrete and light gray beyond is excess sand), but it was super easy and quick (we left it a little dry and just placed in with our hands instead of truly doing a concrete “pour”. And I have to say, so far its pretty terrific. The edges of the patio are locked in place, nothing is moving, and it cost. . . $3. SWEET DEAL.

Here are all the pavers in place for the first time! While the level of soil is at or actually above the level of pavers on two sides, you can see here that the grade drops away from the pavers on the west side of the patio. We left the board in as a sort of form work while the concrete cured, and then swept soil overtop and planted grass seed so now it looks like its inset all around.

The last step is to sweep playground sand in the cracks to keep everything more or less locked in place. We are thinking that eventually we will install some polymer modified sand, which creates a rubbery sandy seal that won’t wash out, but its a meticulous process and we just haven’t had time. So, for now, just plain sand which does have a tendency to wash out in the drizzle so thats a little bit of a drag.

Woohoo! A completed patio. Its obviously not 100% perfect, but for the price and level of effort we are pretty – darn – thrilled with the result. There is some level difference between individual pavers, but it is overall level and sturdy and thats what we want!

Before we show you the dramatic before and after, this is the point where we need to pause a moment to give a HUGE cyber THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us out with ALL of our house projects in the form of labor, Home Depot/Lowe’s/Ace gift cards, and moral support.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

– we really can’t thank you enough. All of your gifts have been so thoughtful and generous, its beyond words.

But now, we can just grill and drink and relax. Come on over any time!

So now for a fun game we like to call Before and After (ha! creative name, right?) From Jungle to Oasis. . .

. . . and hopefully NEVER back again! Now we can concentrate on the final bits of landscaping and finishing some projects on the house itself.

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7 thoughts on “Backyard Part Four: Laying Pavers

  1. Incredible! You guys are amazing! I’d forgotten what it looked like the first time we saw it…it looks fabulous. And thanks for dinner Sunday, we really enjoyed it.

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