A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Building a patio with friends

August 15, 2015
Emilie Phillips

Late this summer, I didn’t post much because all of our weekends and part of the week were taken over with building a patio. We built it with help and guidance from some friends of ours, rented equipment, and some finishing help from my parents. It took us about a month to complete the patio itself, and I am still digging the blueberry bushes back out in December.

Phase 1 replace the deck: We did this last year. When we first built the house, Tyson and I couldn’t agree on the deck we wanted, so we told our contractor to build the minimal deck that would fit a hot tub and a grill. Before we could build the patio, we needed our final deck so the patio could nicely meet up with it. By now we knew a lot more about how we used the deck and traffic patterns. So we had a local contractor build a right sized deck with access just the way we wanted it.

Building the patio itself had lots of little steps, none of which seemed that hard, but it added up.

Paint lines

Paint lines

First we drew out the proposed patio on the lawn with spray paint. We redesigned it significantly between paper and the actual lines in the yard.

Carefully digging up as little as possible.

Carefully digging up as little as possible.

Then we dug up the yard.

Bedding of crushed stone

Bedding of crushed stone

We laid down crushed stone, and then compacted it.

Leveling out the stone dust

Leveling out the stone dust

Then came the stone dust. We carefully leveled reference rods. We filled in between them with stone dust, compacted it, and filled again until the stone dust was level and had cemented the crushed stone in place. This was where we ran into our biggest problem. We had filled maybe a third of the patio, but had used over half our pile of stone dust. And then it rained. We scrambled to cover everything with tarps. It was a Saturday evening, so no place was open to deliver more. And no place with wholesale prices would be open Sunday either. We tried skimping and using more crushed stone than stone dust.

Laying pavers

Laying pavers

We managed to spread the stone dust out in one layer over the whole patio, covered it with paving stones, and then covered the whole project with tarps until we could get more stone dust delivered during the week. Last fall, when we were starting the project, we bought remnant pallets with mismatched pavers. This made laying out the pavers harder because you had to find pavers that fit and made a pleasing random pattern. The end result is very nice.

Tarps over everything

Tarps over everything

That first weekend, we worked until we were exhausted both days — from the work, and from 90+F temperatures. We were booked part of the next weekend, so to get it done, our friends came back during the week. We all spent the evenings working on it, peeling back part of the tarps at a time. It was kind of brutal sustaining the physical work, and a real job.

Border ready to cut

Border ready to cut

Josh cutting pavers

Josh cutting pavers

The next step was to cut the border pavers. We first placed the border pavers on top of the others and traced a line along the pavers so we would have a nice uniform cut.

20150822-174639-119-Patio

Covered in stone dust

The last step for the patio proper was to cover it in stone dust, and then compact the stone dust down through the spaces between the pavers. This cemented the pavers in place.

We kept the tarps in place for another week as I slowly backfilled around the patio with dirt.

Form for bench concrete pad

Form for bench concrete pad

I wanted a granite bench. Initially I’d thought we could just put it on the patio pavers, but apparently the construction we used isn’t strong enough for that. So my parents poured a concrete pad for the bench.

Bench delivery

Bench delivery

Finally in late September the bench was delivered, thus making the patio fully functional, over a month after we started.

However, that hasn’t been the end of the work for me. When we dug up the yard, we dumped much of the dirt off to the side, and the dirt from right around the firepit we pushed up onto the blueberry bushes behind the fire pit. So since then I have been trying to flatten the yard back out from the Bobcat tracks, and dig my blueberries out. As of early December I have had to halt my work because the ground is freezing.

All the photos: