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Patio Makeover (Part 1)- Prepping an Area for Concrete Pavers

Patio Makeover (Part 1)- Prepping an Area for Concrete Pavers

One of my favorite things about our condo, and a major factor in purchasing this condo over a townhouse, which is what we were originally looking for,  was that it actually has a patio and small yard space! 

You can see what out outdoor area looked like when we first bought our home back in April....It had a nice little mulch flower bed area and the rest of it was filled with white marble chip rocks, with a few flagstone pavers leading to the gate.   It wasn't my favorite outdoor space, but at least it was one, and I figured it would look better once I got some plants out there.

There's a substantial concrete patio  (which is in dire need of repainting and that's another project for another day) and about a 15' x 7' "yard"....I use the term yard loosely, because right now is's just a giant mud pit....

The patio was at the bottom of the list, we painted everything inside, tackled our DIY Kitchen Backsplash, and worked on decorating.  But then spring and summer rains started to come down, and what seemed like overnight, our clean, modern rock garden started to look like this:

ugh. Little patches of grass sprouting through everywhere, but mostly it was just weeds. So, as soon as I got out of school for summer break, I knew that outside would be my next area to tackle.  Seeing as though both my husband and I have zero landscaping experience, I wanted something that would be fairly easy to accomplish and easy to keep up with.  The original plan was to dig up everything and lay sod....but once we started digging we realized our soil is full of clay and rocks,so it seemed like a much bigger project that I was ready to take on, especially considering I wasn't sure if the sod would even do well in that soil.

I started scouring Pinterest, and came up with this mood board with some ideas of what to do with it- 

Patio Inspiration Board- sources via Pintrest

Patio Inspiration Board- sources via Pintrest

I like the idea to lay a grid (of some sort) of concrete pavers and fill the spaces between with rocks, similar to the ideas on my mood board.

Our first course of action was figuring out what to do with the ton of existing rocks and mulch that had been laid out by the previous owner. They really did the landscaping in quite a hurry,  we came to realize that they'd basically just dumped bags and bags of topsoil and rocks out there. No weed barrier fabric (except some stupid green deer netting, which I don't think is supposed to be used as a weed barrier and was absolutely ineffective), and no real plan; just something to look nice quickly. Which worked for nicely for a few months until we closed on the house, moved in, and it became a weed garden.

We decided that the easiest way to "get rid" of the rocks would be to just move most of them into the mulch flower bed area. I'd already decided that I wasn't going to plant anything in the ground and would just stick with container gardening- I'm not known for my green thumb.  I've killed succulents before people. succulents! 

We painstakingly got rid of some of the mulch, put out a nice even new layer underneath, dumped a ton of weed killer into the area, then started shoveling rocks over and weeding at the same time...It was looking better already! The mulch really blended in with the color of the fence, but once the white rocks were there, there is a nice contrast between them and the brownish-red painted fence.

It was at this point we realized that it was going to be a pain in the you-know-what to lay sod. there were too many rocks still in the clay filled soil, and we just don't have the right tools (or time/money to invest in them). That's where the concrete paver idea came in.

We decided we should dig up as much as we can and start leveling it out flat to prepare it for pavers.  

We used one of those hand, garden tillers to break up the soil. It was really packed tight, but super uneven and not conducive to laying any pavers if we wanted it to last. And I most definitely don't want to go through this again!

At this point, it was nearing the end of the day and we were starting to waver, so we just made a pile of dirt in the middle and left it.  It kind of looked like we'd buried something in the backyard, but thankfully no neighbors called the cops on us.

Then came the rain. A lot of it. Which turned our little dirt pile into a giant mud pit.

So, today I am working on getting rid of the excess soil, and using a tamper to level it out as best I can. 

I ordered this Quikrete Walkmaker concrete mold from Amazon and came up with a plan....

The plan (at least for now) is to level out the soil, put out some weed killer and plastic landscaping fabric, leveling sand, and start pouring concrete.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be a step-by-step on the process of laying the concrete pavers! 

Patio Makeover (Part 2): Laying Concrete Pavers Tutorial

Patio Makeover (Part 2): Laying Concrete Pavers Tutorial

DIY Kitchen Backsplash Tutorial

DIY Kitchen Backsplash Tutorial