Skip to main content

back yard park

This is the second part of my five-part series on the transformation of a backyard into a very nice park-like atmosphere, consisting of paver walkways and patios, a water feature, and sod and plantings. The home belongs to my son and his wife (hereafter known as s/w). Take a look at Part I to see how we got started. Part I finished with the completion of the fence pad demolition.

Peruse the gallery, to see where we're going, and let's proceed.

Build Your Own Patio - Laying the First Row(click thumbnails to view gallery)

This is how it looked just after we finished the fence pad excavation.Getting started with the pavers.An early look at the layout ...The soil composition.Fortunately for us ...

See Part I for the tools and materials; not much in the way of safety concerns at this point, except maybe for staying out of the dogs' way at meal time -- you dog owners know what I mean.

The process

One of our initial tasks was to visualize the pitch, or "fall," from the upper end of the yard, at the fence, to the lower end, at the patio.

We accomplished this with a string line, attached to nails at both ends and pulled tight. We wanted to be sure that we kept the pavers flat, without "waves" in them, and we wanted to see how the water runoff would move through the yard. We knew that it would go from fence to patio, but we were now able to ensure that there were no areas where the rain would puddle.

Additionally, we wanted to set the proper altitude of the pavers, such that the tops would be even with the string line after the final compaction. We did so by setting them 1/2" below the line at the fence end, given that we had a requirement to keep the tops of the pavers at the same height as the edge of the remaining portion of the concrete pad.

We then did a preliminary layout of the paver walkways and patios, to see if any immediate issues were evident; lucky for us, there were no problems at this point.

We knew from prior experience that there was no need to purchase sand for the paver base or top dressing, as it was right under our feet; the big unknown was how deep the sand was, given the need to have a stable base for the pavers.

Fortunately, the layers of topsoil and sand were only about 8-10" deep, and under that, there was a shale base -- thank you very much! Very happy: now we could proceed without fear of costly and time-consuming base construction.

We began the paver installation at the patio, and worked our way uphill toward the fence. We dug down to the shale level, tamped the soil with the vibrating plate tamp, laid in our two-inch base of on-site sand (normally, we would use a four-inch amount, but the shale was very hard and provided a stable foundation), ensuring that the pavers would be set at the correct altitude after final compaction.

We moved uphill from the patio, keeping the tops of the pavers coincident (your word of the day -- look it up) with the string line. For the sake of appearance and structural integrity, we staggered the first row of pavers, so that ensuing rows had "broken" joints. Later, we would cut half-bricks to place against the patio riser.
We leveled the pavers front to rear, keeping them against the string line, and side-to-side using a level. We pitched the pavers a bit toward the fence, so that ensuing rains would tend to stay away from the house and migrate toward the property line. Subsequent rains validated our technical work.

That's where we were at about the end of the second day. The next task was to lay in the pavers for the rest of the two patios and the connecting walkways. Join us next week, if you will, for Part III.



    If you are looking for garden parties

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

Follow Us

  • No features currently available.

  • More Hot Topics The Daily Fix  •  DIY Warrior  •  Home Ec  •  Handmade
    DIY Disaster Doctor  •  In the Workshop  •  Product Picks

    Home Improvement Videos