An Unexpected Patio – Day 1

Garden Patio Before

Saturday morning was glorious.  Bright, warm sunshine beckoning Spring out of hiding and all I wanted to do was spend the day soaking it up. Plus, we were scheduled to plant the garden about 3 weeks ago but with this crazy roller coaster weather we’ve been putting it off.  So last Saturday we decided we would at least prep the garden for planting which meant pulling out the plant graveyard that was out there and laying down mulch.  We haven’t mulched out there yet and the grass gets so tall and the spiders get so bold and brazen that I end up refusing to go out there.  This year we’re mulching to try to keep the spiders at bay so that I will hopefully not have an excuse to avoid pulling weeds.

So we headed off to Lowe’s to get a baseline price for mulch.  Little did we know what would happen next.

Patio Pavers

We ended up with patio pavers.  What happened you ask?  We’re not really sure.  The mulch was not on sale so we called a guy from Craigslist who said he could be there by 3:00pm with 5 cubic yards of much for $80 (a lot better than $120 at Lowes) and we thought well what do we do until 3:00pm?  Why don’t we just put in a quick little patio, we’ll be done by 3 and we can mulch then.

Patios are not quick or easy.

Drainage Rock

After 7 trips to Lowe’s we made several friends of the staff.  We had to pick up 150 pavers, 28 bags of drainage rock and 28 bags of paver sand.

Patio Paver Sand

When we started our patio was only going to be 5 feet x 5 feet.  It grew to be a little over 7 feet x 7 feet which is why we ended up taking so many trips to Lowe’s.

Patio Mark Center

First thing we did was mark the center of the little square that is created by the raised garden beds with some leftover lime spray paint from the citrus juicer.

Patio Dig the Square

Then we marked out our square (adding another foot out or so) and started digging up the top 6 inches or so of earth.

Patio Hole

Here is our beautiful little hole in the ground.  In hindsight, we dug it a little too far down but hey, it’s our first patio!

Patio Tamp

That’s when the tamping began.  This, my friends, is a tamper and it is not your friend.  Three days later and my arms are still crying but it does the trick and is definitely a good workout.  You just slam it into the ground to compact the dirt, pretty self-explanatory.

Patio Leftover Dirt

Wonder what we did with all that dirt?  Filled some holes we have in the yard where trees were pulled out and the ground settled.

Patio Little Snake

Eric found this little guy in one of the dirt piles as he was about to start tamping.  He’s now happily slithering around in the woods somewhere.  I have to say, Eric has seriously gotten over his fear of snakes much better than I have over my fear of spiders.  But spiders are way creepier.

Patio Drainage Rock

Next we started filling our square back up starting with the drainage rock.  We actually bought the wrong stuff it turns out, you should really use paver rock but they didn’t have any at Lowe’s and we were in a frenzy to get started.  The only difference is the paver stone also has a finer rock dust with it which probably allows it to compact better.  Our patio will probably sink in a year but we’re risking it.

Level the Rock

Next we needed to level all those piles of rock.  First we raked it all out until it was pretty level, then Eric took that board and shimmied it across the surface until there weren’t any low spots and it was level.  Rooster is making sure he doesn’t cut any corners.  Then we tamped that down too.

Patio PVC

Here is where I started slacking on the photography. But we tamped down the rock and put down those two pieces of PVC.  Next we laid out the sand and used those pipes as a way to level the sand out.  You just take a board and shimmy it down those two pipes and it smooths out the sand so it is nice and level.

Patio Level Sand

Then you pop those pipes out and fill the gaps with sand and smooth it all out again.  (thank you This Old House!)  This is our neighbor Mike who you might have met before.  He and his wife are DIYers like us and we love having him help out on projects like this since he usually has some tool we’ve never heard of that makes the job 50x easier.

Patio Mulch

Meanwhile the mulch finally arrived at about 6:00pm that night.  It’s a good thing we didn’t sit around and wait for it all day!  Granted, we also didn’t get our patio finished before it arrived either.

Patio Wet Sand

As the sun was setting, we sprayed the sand down.  (That’s as far as our hose will go so I’m getting good at the whole arching the water spray to hit the back of the garden thing).

Patio Tamp Sand

Finally we gave the sand a little tamp just as the sun fell behind the tree line.  We debated setting up some flood lights but with aching arms, we headed inside to pass out.

And that was our Day One of our Paver Patio Installation.  We didn’t get any work done on the bathroom, we didn’t touch the garden beds or the mulch and we started another major project… sounds about right for a Saturday.  Stay tuned to see how Sunday went!

Author: Jamie Forbes

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