Building the Paver Patio

 

Hi everybody! This is Ryan and today I’m taking over the blog with Part 5 of the Backyard DIY series Ashley and I started last Spring. Today I’m outlining how we built our backyard patio and foot path using stepping stones and gravel. This proved to be an easy way to transform our back yard and, one year later, we’re still in love with the space!

  1. If you haven’t already, get caught up with the Introduction from Part 1 (you don’t want to miss the before and afters).
  2. We built a wooden deck patio to compliment this paver patio – if you are deciding which is best, check it out!

How to build a Gravel and Paver Patio

I took the majority of these photos on my iPhone, but did not capture every step. (sorry!) If you end up with questions about a particular step, definitely comment below and I’ll do my best to help! 

Materials

The materials for this project are surprisingly basic. Aside from basic garage tools (shovels, wide sweeper broom, wheel barrow), you’ll just need the following:

 

Our Porch Furniture

I do not recommend pea gravel only as surface for a porch or any area seeing foot traffic. It has a tendency to move underfoot and may detract from your enjoyment that area over time. I used it for the surface of the flower bed, but on the porch and foot path used large stepping stones.

 

1. Design your Space

This is always the most important step. It’s easy to get an idea in your head and proceed right to the building, but taking a minute to sketch it out will help you visualize what you need to do even better. It will also bring things to your attention that you might have missed and help avoid expensive mistakes. You don’t have to be a great artist to do this as my little sketch illustrates below.

The second part of this is to use spray paint or chalk to mark where you will be digging. 

 Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

2. Clear the Area of Debris

This will be different depending on the space that you’re renovating. For parts of our project I had to demolish a cement & brick flower bed and dig through some heavily rooted (nearby Oak) soil. For the side yard, I had carried out about 2 tons of large river rock the summer before and the area was overtaken by weeds. I sprayed them with weed killer the week before. Once everything was nice and brown it was just a matter of digging it all out.

 

Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

3. Install Any Edging

Now is a great time to dig a trench along the areas where you want to install the edging. As you’re installing, be careful to make sure the lines keeps straight and that your edging remains level.

 

4. Dig to Depth

With your edging installed you need to dig to the right depth. If you are laying pea gravel and pavers, you will want to dig 2-3 inches deep. I chose to dig about 2 inches below the surface. Keep a tape measure with you through this process and make sure to check all sides of your area to ensure you’re depth is consistent.

*My project required me to move or cap off multiple sprinkler heads. If you have questions about that, feel free to leave them in the comments!

 

5. Resurface or Compact Soil

Now that you’ve reached the right depth, you’ll want to compact the soil using a hand tamper or, if you’re working on a large space, by renting plate compactor (you can easily rent on from Lowes or Home Depot). This is a really important step as it will provide extra surface stability for your large pavers and even keep your pea gravel from moving around as much. 

*Side note – Some people would recommend that you lay down a paver base or leveling sand before tamping down the soil. While I’m sure that can only help, I didn’t feel like it was a necessary step for my project. It has been installed over a year and I still stand by that. But it’s up to you!

 

6. Install Weed Mat

I opted for the cheapest yet still contractor grade weed mat I could find. The main thing is that do not want weeds growing through your rocks constantly, so don’t skip this step. 

If you are laying multiple strips down, make sure each line overlaps the previous one by about 12 inches. And use these landscape staple stakes — lots of them.

 Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

7. Place the large Pavers

There are basically three parts to this step.

Ask a friend to help:  We installed 45 large 24×24 inch pavers weighing 70lb. each. If you’re working with anything remotely close to that size, think about having help. 

Laying the pavers in a straight line: Lay a chalk line if you have one, or you can simply tie any rope or line to 2-3 stakes. Stretch them along the path where you want the pavers and hammer them into the ground.

Spacing the pavers: For the side yard I used a scrap 2×4 laid flat to make sure the pavers were 4″ apart horizontally and 2″apart vertically. On the foot path we cut a 10″ long 2×4 and used that to space the stepping stones.

 

Laying a stepping stone and gravel path - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

8. Lay Pea Gravel

With the heavy lifting of the pavers done, you’re almost home free. Transport and dump the gravel using a wheel barrow and use a shovel to spread it out at first, then switch to a floor sweeper and push the rocks where they need to be. Fill in between the pavers. Continue the process until you have filled your area without covering over the pavers. You may need to inspect the pavers and move gravel underneath them if they’re not level. Use your sweeper or a blower to clean off the dust that comes with the gravel. You’re done!

 

Installing a pea gravel flower bed - Ashley Brooke Designs
Beautiful Stepping Stone and Gravel Patio - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

 

Enjoy your new porch!

That’s it! Now you can really relax and enjoy your new backyard. 

Just for fun here are a few images of the yard after everything was completed! More before & afters are over here. Again, if you have questions, please ask!

 

Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

Details:

Patio furniture from Joss & Main // 9′ Patio Umbrella from Pottery Barn // Pillows & Pots from Pottery Barn

 

Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

 

 

Follow Our Backyard DIY Series:

Part 1 – An Introduction (before & after pics included!)

Part 2 – How to hang String Lights

Part 3 – Backyard Entertaining (three best Summer cocktails!) 

Part 4 – How to Build a Cedar Wood Planter 

Part 5 – How We Installed the Pavers & Gravel

Part 6 – How to Build a Simple Wood Deck

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59 Comments

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      March 26, 2018 / 10:52 am

      Thanks Angela!! He really did transform it!

      xo – AB

  1. Lesa
    March 14, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    Love this backyard edition… you worked so hard on it and it shows!

  2. Sierra
    March 19, 2018 / 8:32 am

    Looks so good! Definitely planning on doing this at my new house ☺️

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      March 26, 2018 / 10:51 am

      YAY! Send us the photos when you finish!! 🙂
      xo – Ashley Brooke

  3. Jeniffee
    April 5, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Where did you buy the pavers? We are looking to do something similar but don’t want to have to pour concrete for each square.

    • April 8, 2018 / 10:12 pm

      Hi Jennifer, great question! I bought them from a local landscape stone supplier called Pebble Junction. I’m sure you could get them through most landscape supply companies. Also, I believe Home Depot and Lowes have similar ones, but maybe not as many style/size/color options.

      • Pryanka Arora
        June 11, 2019 / 1:29 am

        How much was each paver, if you don’t mind me asking? We have a narrow bit of unused side yard that I want to do this project on but I’m trying to get an idea of even the DIY patio is in my budget.

        • June 17, 2019 / 11:14 am

          Hi Pryanka! They were around $15 a piece! xx

  4. Nicole
    April 24, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    Hey there, what is the width between the concrete stones for the patio? I’m looking to do a similar thing to expand my current patio and not really sure yet what width looks good!

    • April 24, 2018 / 9:26 pm

      Hi Nicole, Great question! I laid a 2×4 flat to space in between the each paver in the three columns….So it’s closer to 4″. Spacing between columns is a bit narrower and I just turned the 2×4 on its side to get them 1.5-1.75″ apart.

  5. mahura
    May 31, 2018 / 11:30 pm

    I love it! I am working on my back yard I want to redesign the whole thing ( large space) but my problem is I don’t know what to do with the excess dirt. before I bought the house the previous owners put in a pool leaving behind lots of extra dirt in the back. do you know or anyone what I can do with it

    • June 1, 2018 / 2:48 pm

      Hi Mahura, Regarding the dirt, I would check Homeadvisor.com to find someone in your area that does waste disposal. I had a giant pile of extra dirt after this project and I think it cost me $250 to have them come shovel it into their truck and haul it away. Well worth the price. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your back yard project!

  6. Susan Kenneally
    August 10, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    I’m using the string light segment for a backyard wedding. The bride wants tons of lights! Wish us luck.

    • August 12, 2018 / 2:56 pm

      You’ve got this, Susan! Let us know how it goes!

  7. December 10, 2018 / 12:03 am

    It’s very beautiful…Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      December 10, 2018 / 6:24 pm

      Thank you!

  8. February 22, 2019 / 9:57 pm

    Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors
    would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me
    an e-mail.

  9. Daniel Backman
    March 19, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    Hello- beautiful patio. I am happy I found this page because my wife and I are going to a very similar patio project this spring. I have a couple of questions.

    1) We have similarly heavy 24×24 concrete pavers. Do you find that they move at all, since they aren’t set or bonded to anything? I wasn’t sure how to secure them in place.

    2) We are doing metal edging, but are having a hard time deciding which brand and metal to use. How did you decide on the aluminum edging? And looking back, would you still pick that same product? We are between your choice and Col-Met steel edging.

    3) Does it drain okay?

    Thank you!

    • March 19, 2019 / 7:19 pm

      Hi Daniel, Thank you for your comment.
      1. Ours move VERY little, which has been great. I went back and forth on the question to secure or not. If you do secure them, you will want to make sure your property is graded properly and alignment is very accurate. You could always secure them in place with some kind of shallow landscape edging that would then be covered over by the gravel. It all depends on your expertise as well.
      2. I would absolutely pick the same product. We’ve loved the metal edging. It has not rusted or moved at all. I simply find it by researching online. I just new I didn’t want anything plastic that would wear down over time. I looked at Col-Met after I read your comment, and I don’t think you can go wrong there either! If you use it, I would love to know how you like it!
      3. Yes, it drains great. I do have one section of my yard that slopes into a portion of the gravel area and it collects water briefly, but it’s more a function of the grade and not the gravel. The gravel is awesome in that respect.

      Hope this is helpful!

  10. Paula Ehlers
    March 19, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    how does the pea gravel stand up over time? Do you find it’s messy, i.e. does it stay in place with weather issues, (rain, snow)?
    What is your opinion of making the area smaller between the pavers – thinner rows of gravel? Thanks

    • March 19, 2019 / 7:09 pm

      Hi Paula, Thank you for the question. The Pea Gravel stands up well to the test of time. We live in Florida and experience a lot of rain, but not snow, so I can’t speak to that. It’s less functional than something more solid, but the large format pavers helped alleviate that issue. All that said, I have been amazed at how our friends’ children head straight for the gravel and love tossing it around. That is something to consider as it may not be ideal with small children. There is about 2″ between my pavers down the side of my house, and they could definitely be made closer if that’s your preference. Along our garage where we used 15″ pavers as a footpath. I believe there is 8″ between and I would move them closer if I did it again.

  11. Wale
    June 10, 2019 / 6:43 am

    Lovely design

  12. June 21, 2019 / 8:42 am

    Thanks for the useful information. Before Driveways, paver installation needs a good base & also measure the thickness level of concrete pavers.

    • June 21, 2019 / 11:06 am

      Charli! Thank you, great feedback! xx- AB

  13. July 10, 2019 / 12:59 pm

    Very well done! You really did a great job getting the most out of the space you have at your disposal. It’s a lovely backyard and a lovely patio !

  14. Avril Kon
    July 11, 2019 / 3:37 am

    Hi, your patio looks really nice and inviting, can you give me an idea of cost?

    • July 15, 2019 / 3:12 pm

      Thank Avril, means so much! Around $1,500!

  15. July 24, 2019 / 12:02 pm

    This turned out great! It seems like anyone can become their own patio builder. It turned out quite impressive, congratulations.

  16. Kimberly
    September 28, 2019 / 9:42 am

    Beautiful! Can you tell me the color of gravel you used.? It looks like a warmer color than standard pea gravel.

    • September 28, 2019 / 7:30 pm

      Hi Kimberly! I believe it’s “white river rock” (the smallest size). It’s primarily white with some tan and gray stones.

  17. Andrea
    October 12, 2019 / 10:53 pm

    Followed your advice on stringing my backyard lights, and they turned out awesome. I found what was called clothesline wire at Lowe’s, and it worked really well if you don’t mind that it is green. It was about $10 for a 100 foot roll and I used needle nose pliers to twist it around itself at the eye hooks. Worked like a charm! Thank you for the tutorial!

    • October 14, 2019 / 12:19 pm

      Andrea! We LOVE hearing this!! I’m so glad the tutorial worked so well for you! Hope you enjoy sitting out under the lights!

      xo – Ashley Brooke

  18. Chelsea
    January 28, 2020 / 10:37 pm

    How long did this process take?

    • January 29, 2020 / 7:37 am

      Hi Chelsea, all in it took a day and a half (say 15 work hours total) for two people. That doesn’t include all the preliminary researching and planning though ; )

  19. Julie Hencke
    April 13, 2020 / 3:50 pm

    Hi Ashley,
    My husband and I are planning on doing this project. We do see that the area we’re doing has sprinkler heads. How did y’all handle the moving and capping off the sprinklers? We are brand new at home DIY renovations! Thank you in advance!

    • April 13, 2020 / 5:22 pm

      Hi Julie,
      This is Ryan – Thank you for the comment and question. I’m excited you’re renovating your space! They has paid for itself many times over and we would do it again in a heartbeat. As for sprinklers, I actually attached flexible sprinkler line and capped them off just above the surface. With the flexible line I don’t have to worry about them snapping. And because I didn’t burry them I can easily access them for things like drip lines when I need them. They are barely noticeable.

      Here are a couple of images.
      Sprinker Beside Ashley Brooke's DIY Paver Patio
      Sprinked Beside Ashley Brooke's DIY Paver Patio

  20. Julie Hencke
    April 17, 2020 / 3:22 pm

    Ok great thank you Ryan!

  21. Samantha
    May 5, 2020 / 5:18 pm

    We are about to tackle a pavered path around the house like you did next week. What is the width of your path? Is it a comfortable width to walk along as time has passed?

    • May 6, 2020 / 4:12 pm

      Hi Samantha,
      For the path along the garage (single file), those pavers are 18×18 and spaced 10 inches apart. They are pretty comfortable to walk on, though I might space them 8″ if I did it over again. Width wide, with a few buffer inches of pea gravel on each side, it’s plenty of walking space.
      Hope that helps!
      Ryan

  22. Kevin
    May 6, 2020 / 6:10 pm

    My wife and I are on step 5. I am having trouble compacting the soil with a hand tamper because it’s dry and sandy (we live on the Space Coast of FL). I’m also unsure how to properly level the surface. Any tips? I was thinking of following the same steps someone would use with leveling sand (using conduit and 2×4). The area is about 14’ x 24’.

    I’m also curious if you have any concerns with bugs since the area isn’t screened in. Like I said, we’re right around the corner from you and deal with the gnats and lovebugs as the sun goes down. It doesn’t help that we have an artificial lake behind our house either. Appreciate any tips!

    • May 7, 2020 / 9:05 am

      Hi Kevin – thanks for the comment and extra info! Sounds like you are well on your way, but I hear where you’re coming from. I’ll start with the easy one for me – bugs. We don’t have too much of an issue. Occasionally mosquitos become a problem, but our neighborhood sprays for them so it’s not too bad. We do often put a citronella candle out when we have dinner on the patio. Also, perhaps consider planting citronella plants nearby – it’s something we’ve just started looking in to. And, thankfully, we don’t have gnats this far inland!

      Regarding leveling of the soil, I would rent a plate compactor for the area you described. I actually used one for the large area (but found the hand tamper easier to work with for the other sections). My area isn’t perfectly level, and I can live with it. But if you can swing adding leveling sand, that’s probably the only thing I would do different if I did it over again.

      I don’t know if this is all that helpful of a response, but let me know how it goes and if I can answer any other questions along the way.

      • Kevin
        May 7, 2020 / 11:56 am

        Thank you for the quick reply! Very helpful. I think I’ll go with the compactor and just do my best with the leveling. The 20×20 pavers we’re looking at are 56 pounds each so I’m not too worried about movement. On another note, I’m building a raised garden box for my wife (similar to what’s in your photos above). She’d like it to be somewhere around 32″ high. Instead of filling the box with a huge amount of soil, I thought adding a shelf in the middle. What would be your recommendation for how much room she would need to grow flowers? I was thinking 12″.

        • May 15, 2020 / 8:46 am

          Hi Kevin -glad that was helpful! Yes, I would recommend a middle shelf for the planter. No need to fill that thing whole thing with dirt! Added a middle shelf at 18″ but I had no particular rationale for that number. 12″ is probably just fine for flowers.

  23. Gerardo Marquez
    May 13, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Hi, what color were you pavers?

    • May 15, 2020 / 8:42 am

      Hi Gerardo, I believe they were just considered white/light. I don’t specifically recall though.

      • Gerardo Marquez
        May 15, 2020 / 11:27 pm

        Thanks for the reply. Also, I can’t for the life of me find white river rock gravel in Los Angeles County. Do you think I can recreate it some how by mixing similar blends of smooth pebbles?

  24. Dee
    May 14, 2020 / 12:57 pm

    Beautiful! I love all of it! We are doing this exact project off our patio for our smoker/BBQ pit and adding a few extra pavers to continue as a walkway around the side of the house. We just picked up our 24×24 inch pavers last night and they are looking very gray with a blue-ish undertone, which is concerning now that I seen them in my yard. Hoping once we add the river rock it’ll all tone down and come together. What color are the pavers you purchased? Thanks in advance!

  25. May 15, 2020 / 8:49 am

    Hi Dee – your project sounds amazing! That’s so interesting about the color of your pavers. Without seeing them it’s hard to know, but mine were definitely white/light and I believe titled as such where I bought them. I would call the place you bought them from and ask a few questions if it’s a big concern.

  26. Frank
    May 27, 2020 / 3:25 am

    Hi Gerardo,
    Have experienced and weeds growing up through your pathway pavers?
    A few years ago, I constructed a pathway similar to your and I now have weeds popping up.
    Like you, I laid out the weed barrier and covered it decorator stone (about 1/2 inch in size) to a depth of 1/2 inch.
    What do you think caused the weeds to appear>

  27. Roxy
    July 4, 2020 / 2:04 am

    I tried reading the comments to see if this question had been asked, but could not tell. Where did you get your pretty terracotta pots that have that old feel

    • July 6, 2020 / 9:28 am

      Hi Roxy! Most of them we found at Old World Pottery!! So inexpensive!

  28. Emily
    July 24, 2020 / 8:59 am

    Hi Ashley

    I love your designit is beautiful. Pls send me other ideas I wish to do my backyard. It is miserable.

  29. July 28, 2020 / 1:16 am

    This is an explosive idea; this is most probably the best and most successful thing about building backyard paver patio. I love this blog and really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing!!

  30. August 24, 2020 / 3:14 pm

    Love this blog! and the way you wrote about this project. Thank you for sharing and especially for sharing the pictures as that helps bring it more into focus!

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