Remember when I hinted that a patio might be in our future? Well this past week, I broke ground.

Oh, did I say ground?

I meant rock.

Here’s a little tip for all you house hunters: consider the landscaping. Having bought a new construction, we did not have a single tree or shrub in the beginning. We had hydro-seed and straw for the first few months. But none of the time planting or creating flower beds compares to the work involved in digging out this patio. I kid you not when I say they must have filled our yard with all the construction rubble from building the house. What I was hopelessly stabbing my shovel into was a unique mix of Carolina Red Clay (yes, that deserves capitalization), rocks large and small, broken tile, roofing paper, and various other items like tic-tac containers.

I also found out that my yard was not as level as I thought it was. There is roughly a foot drop over the 23ish feet I wanted to cover. But, since the front yard is really the only place to put a patio, I decided to try and work it out. There are plenty of you tube videos and online articles to teach you how to install a patio, and I probably consulted about 80% of them in my quest. Here are some of the highlights:

1. For drainage away from the house, I calculated a 1″ drop for every 6 feet of patio, which for us worked out to about 4″ total.

2. I used twine and garden stakes to mark my patio, using the string height as the finished patio paver height. However because of the existing huge drop off, I had to actually do some digging and move dirt around before I could get the twine to be level.

3. I used diagonal lengths of twine to make the 4″ drop, going from the highest point (level with the stoop in front of the porch stairs) to the lowest point (the far end of the patio). This became the guide for digging- 7″ below the string.

4. Make sure you know where your utilities are buried, most companies will come out and mark them for free.

I’ll cover more details as I complete this project, but this was enough information to get me started. I had a brief moment of panic when I first started digging, convinced that something would go wrong and I’d end up regretting the fact that I dug up our entire front yard. It took a lot of work for me to get that crappy grass.

After the first day, I had moved quite a bit from the area closest to the house to the area furthest from the house (that actually needed filling to reach the 7″ depth).

It was a little hard to believe at this point that I would ever get a flat-ish surface. But I pressed on…

It’s starting to take shape, here you can see the diagonal lines I laid out which are telling me how deep to dig to maintain my 4″ drainage drop. By the end of day two, we had finished leveling the area and laid down weed cloth, tacked down by large staples called “crampons”…whoever named these was having an interesting day.

Let me be the first to point out that due to the extreme non-levelness we started with and the difficult soil, we did not end up with a perfect flat base. But the plan is to lay 4″ of gravel on top, which will be easier to level and remove any of the unevenness under the weed barrier. This is where we ended up this weekend, so now we are waiting on the gravel.

Stay tuned as the quest for patio awesomeness continues!

5 Responses

  1. Ashley @

    We too just did a little paver patio… wow! So much more work than I imagined. YHL just did their patio too. It’s an amazing feeling when you finally get all done, but the work that goes into it is nuts! Good luck and can’t wait to see the final results!!!

    • Lovely Crafty Home

      At least I’m not the only crazy one LOL 🙂 I can’t wait till it’s done!! Did you post about yours? I’m off to check….

  2. Erin Elizabeth Platt

    i just completed a paver project for my parents – what an ordeal! and frightfully expensive. once i began excavating, i had that sick gut feeling like, what the heck am i getting myself into?! but, in for a penny, in for a pound.

    i enjoyed your article! you remind me of ME!


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