Monday, May 12, 2014

Simple patio plans for under $100.

I've been wanting some sort of front-yard patio for ages now. I love my backyard deck, but I also really like watching the neighborhood roll by from the front stoop. We rented a lovely holiday flat in the Stockbridge Colonies for my work/vacation last month in Scotland, and there I found the inspiration for our latest DIY project -- a simple patio made of paving stones and gravel. No concrete mixing or hired hands required.

The garden in Scotland:

Front yard: Edinburgh, Scotland

Our front yard BEFORE:

Before: Our front yard, Louisville, Kentucky

My front yard had been a vegetable garden for eight years. Last year it was mainly herbs (we built a raised bed on the other side of the sidewalk for our veggies), and I admit to having let my mint run wild. I adore fresh mint, particularly how it makes my yard smell when the wind blows. Still, there's plenty of mint left to make for good smells while sitting on our new patio.

Step one: We mostly used a good old-fashioned hoe to dig out as much mint and as many weeds as possible. After a while, we borrowed a neighbor's rototiller to make the job a little faster and more thorough. David then dug out a lot of extra dirt that had accumulated through years of adding compost and moved it to another bed. We smoothed out the dirt with a rake.

Step two (not pictured): We put down weedblocker -- some regular old black weedblocker fabric that we found in the shed, plus several layers of old newspaper.

Step three: We got 1600 pounds of gravel from a place on River Road -- all for $20. This required both the borrowing of a truck and the purchase of a wheelbarrow. Here's David smoothing out the gravel he poured on top of the weedblocker.

Here's also where David and I disagree. I, for one, still think it would have been a lot easier if we had laid the paving stones first rather than than having to dig out space for them around the gravel. He keeps saying something about the gravel needing to be level first, but having laid half the stones myself, I contend he's just not admitting that I was right about this tiny little detail.

Step four: Lay the paving stones. We purchased 24 paving stones (almost 5x5, but minus one corner -- on purpose, I know it seems weird, but it looks nice) from a hardware store. They were $2.35 each, so about $57. Basically all you do is move some gravel around, lay the stone, then fill the gravel back in around it. David used a straight piece of wood to make sure they were all level -- using small bits of gravel as shims to raise stones that were lower than they need to be. It was all a fairly quick and easy process.

Here's our final project, total cost around $77. Now we just need some Adirondack chairs or a bistro set (anyone out there make Adirondack chairs and want to trade for some piano/guitar lessons?):

Simple patio with gravel and paving stones.

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