Outdoor Challenge Part 2: Brick Paver Patio

Only nine short weeks ago I vowed (a little dramatically) to finally do something about the brick pavers I had stacked in my garage for many years. I talked about goal setting and my lack of following through on previous projects. You can read more about it here.


Just to recap, I began this project almost four years ago. I was all set up to do things on my own and just became overwhelmed with the task and quit. The top picture is from four years ago. The bottom picture was how the area looked until very recently. I pulled most of the weeds and had to re-level the rocky base. I’m actually glad that I didn’t create the paver patio earlier because we had a deck built on the back of the house and now I have created a patio design that fits in perfectly with the deck!


Using a ruler, I attempted to mock up my patio plan to scale. I believe I used 5/8″ = 1′. I found an awesome large paver to use a a border stone around the perimeter of the patio and to surround the stairs, and then I had eight pallets of key-shaped used pavers given to me by a friend to fill in the middle. I drew in two planter beds (I only kept one) for interest and along the right-hand side-wall, I imagined a privacy screen made from cedar fence boards– which will be created at a later date (hopefully).



After I sketched everything out, I was able to come up with a possible budget.

  • Paver base– $3.49 for .5 cu. ft. (They each weight 50 lbs!)
  • Leveling sand– $3.49 for .5 cu. ft. (They each weigh 47 lbs!)
  • Key shaped pavers- FREE (given to me)
  • Border pavers $4.59 each 12″ x 18″ (They each weight 43 lbs!)

I purchased individual bags of rock and sand this time because they were easier to handle than one bulk shipment that I would have dropped off in my driveway and have to shovel into a wheel barrow and drag to the back yard. It was however, more expensive.

I noted the weight of each item above because the car I was schlepping everything home in had a cargo maximum weight of 900 lbs.. Definitely something to be aware of when you’re not driving heavy duty truck. You can find the cargo information on a sticker by your driver’s side door.

DAY 1:

This all went down the Friday before Memorial Day. My lovely parents are both retired and they came over to work with me on this project. I know I would have never finished patio without their help and encouragement. I am eternally grateful for all the support they give to me.

The above picture shows what we were able to accomplish by the end of day one all the while keeping my daughter from digging in the sand. She made imprints in the sand with all her toys; she couldn’t stay away.

We purchased 44 bags of rock over three separate trips to the store. We rented a vibratory plate compactor to flatten out the paver base. We also bought ten border pavers, paver edging, and sixteen bags of leveling sand. Basically, we worked and then used trips to the store as opportunity to rest and recoup. By then end of the day the three of us were exhausted and quickly followed my two-year-old to bed around 9:00pm.

DAY 2:

On day two, we were so motivated. My husband was home, so we had four workers. It’s amazing how much faster things go when you work with a group of people. We got most of the pavers laid, except the places where pavers had to be cut. Make sure you have a rubber mallet handy to level and maneuver each paver. We only had one mallet, so a neighbor lent us one more. and that’s when we really got moving.

That night I sat on the couch for three hours with a heating pad on my back, trying to ease my muscles. I think it helped, but this is seriously one of the most labor intensive activities I’ve ever done.

DAY 3: 

On day three, I bought the last fourteen border pavers and six bags of sand to finish the project. Woot-woot! I was really focused on leveling sand surrounding the stairway when I looked up and was startled to see this family of swans walking right past me. These two swans are really aggressive and territorial. They’re constantly chasing off geese and other birds from near their nest. When I saw them grouped with their five cygnets I knew I could be in trouble. Slowly, I stepped backward and ascended the stairs to put some distance between myself and the adult swans. Then I grabbed my phone snapped a couple pictures! The babies are so adorable!

Eventually, I got back to work and set up this paver saw. It’s just like a tile saw; pretty easy to use. Each cut was really crisp and neat. It took me a couple tries to get placement for each cut down, but eventually I felt confident.

I had to stop everything when a thunderstorm hit and lightning and pouring rain made it dangerous to continue working outside. I was a little bummed, but I had until 10:00am on my paver saw rental the following day, so I took the opportunity to rest and enjoy the comfort of my family and my couch.

DAY 4:

All together I only used three and a half of the eight paver pallets in my garage. Decluttering my garage so my husband and I can both park indoors has been a huge goal of mine. I guess I’m halfway there. The void where the four pallets once sat opened up a ton of room.

One of my coworkers posted on social media that this long Memorial Day weekend was going to change her life, she was so looking forward to the break and the chance to get things done that she hadn’t had the time for. Well, I feel like my life is changed for the better after putting in so many long hours and ending up with a finished project that I can be truly proud of. My motivation to create this space came from my daughter who absolutely loves the outdoors. We have a gravel driveway, so I imagine Sloane riding her bike or shooting some hoops on this back patio in the near future. It’s a big open space. It’s going to be a perfect hangout spot.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice that I have some finishing touches to do, but I’m still in planning stages for how to bring the grass up to the patio’s edge.

Now for some plants, a wooden privacy wall, and possibly a DIY deck swing. Two more weeks with students and then I’m off for summer break! Things are looking up.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to go more in-depth with my explanations.

Keep in touch…




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