Backyard Transformation: DIY Paver Patio

Our house continues to become a home, one project at a time. Since buying the Apple House in October 2018, we have demolished walls, refloored the entire upstairs, gutted the bathroom, changed windows, and painted every wall and ceiling. With warmer weather and COVID keeping us home, Spring 2020 was the perfect excuse to complete another project as well: designing and constructing our own backyard paver patio.

If you’ve been following Uncorking Peonies for awhile, you may remember the jungle that was our backyard when we moved into our Apple House. Bushes and trees shaded the entire space, our fencing was so molded you didn’t even know it was there, and we had more hostas in the ground than grass. Actually, the yard itself had scared a few potential buyers prior to or viewing. So over the course of the last year and a half, G and I have been busily eradicating the backyard from its over-growth. With each root pulled and stump removed, the yard became more and more picturesque, allowing us to imagine it as a beautiful little social space. See its transformation from our first week as homeowners to the week before building the patio:

The only survivor of our Battle of the Hostas was an old magnolia tree. I absolutely love magnolias, and our old girl not only blooms in the Spring, but also in the Fall. In addition to removing the majority of the foliage in the backyard, we also changed out the basement windows and door, fixed any cracks in the foundation, and repainted the entire exterior. Our vinyl fence was in pristine condition following a thorough power-washing and we built a small stone fire pit to be used late in the season of 2019.

The next stage of our backyard was to build a paver patio. G and I weighed our options and decided to go with a 12′ x 24′ patio with a retaining wall, and do the labor ourselves. So we bought our blocks Fall 2019 on sale (12″ x 12″ gray pavers) and waited until the weather warmed enough to begin breaking ground.

G was a powerhouse when it came time to finally begin our project. Here was our recipe for success:

  • We squared off the patio space and G got to work digging. Cart load after cart load of ground was moved to drop the 12′ x 24′ area 4″ inches.
  • G then built the retaining wall (we used 11″ red retainer blocks) the extent of the 12′ side of the patio. This retaining wall specifically butted-up against our drainage field which we completed Fall 2018.
  • We did not rent a plate compacter. G opted to tamp the ground himself.
  • About 2″ worth of crushed concrete filled the patio space, followed by an inch or less worth of sand. G placed each patio block on top of the sand, adding more or less sand in order to level the pad. He developed a smart plan to lay PVC piping on top of the concrete to roll and level the area. He was meticulous in making sure the patio slanted downward to drain well and no water would come into our basement.

  • Laying out all 288 pavers took the majority of a day.
  • Once all the pavers were in place, G and I distributed polymeric sand (gray colored) across the entire space, paying special attention to the edges. Instructions are included with the sand, and it was simple enough. G poured the sand along every side and corner of the patio and I followed with a tamper. Tamping each brick, I not only leveled the pavers for one final time but also “shook” the sand particles into place.
  • We then swept the sand from the surface of the patio. Pushing the majority into each seam, we did not care how much sand we pushed to the patio’s edges as this only meant the outer bricks would be held tightly as well.
  • Then G took a leaf blower and blew any excess sand from the surface.
  • Following the sand’s instructions, I then showered the patio in 200 square foot sections for 30 seconds at a time. G provided great entertainment during this time — singing some of my favorite country songs off-key and causing Copper to zoom around. It was a great family night working side-by-side.
  • When finished, we remained off the patio for the next two days in order for the sand to set.

All in all, we built our patio in little over a week’s time: we began on Friday the 1st and the patio was completely set by Tuesday the 12th. We’ve enjoyed every evening on the patio since finishing it.

The patio took a lot of sweat and hardwork, but it was well worth the price to be able to have this perfect little slice of heaven to better fall in love with our home. Our backyard faces West so we can watch the sun set every day. It has been great for hosting friends for fires, grilling out, and playing with Copper.

A BIG thank you to my husband for his back-breaking craftsmanship. You are a rock star, G!

The backyard is still not complete though. We plan to rototill the yard and reseed grass. Our shed needs to be moved from our driveway and into the fenced yard as well. I want to build a privacy fence between the patio and air conditioner to diminish the sound and also provide a “herb wall” for my cooking needs. We’ll also be adding a swing looking to the sunset, a few planter boxes and patio light strings to make the space more romantic.

However, for 2020, our beautifully constructed DIY paver patio is the perfect addition to our little home.

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