The backyard of a home is where its inhabitants go to relax, whether it’s to enjoy the peace of nature or host a barbecue for friends and family. With a little bit of creativity and hard work, a great patio is well within reach.
Prepare the Area
Just like painting a room, the easiest way to approach a back patio is to make the area as clear and ready for work as possible. This means clearing out all equipment that’s stored back there, like patio furniture, barbecues, lawn mower, garden equipment, and anything else that’s moveable.
After you do that, it’s time to mark out the area and then dig down a few inches, leveling the area so it’s even and smooth to lay the ground on. It’s also a good idea to eliminate as many weeds as possible so you don’t have any stray heads poking up between patio stones; while the job isn’t fun, it’s a lot easier to do it when the surface is bare than to pour hot water over them and work in a half-inch space.
A 2” layer of sand is the next step in prepping the area, and make sure to tamp it down nice and even. This will form the basis of your patio, so you get one shot to make it right, or risk a bunch of headaches later on in the process.
Lay the Materials
The most common choices for backyard patios are brick and stone, and they sit on top of a layer of landscape fabric to stabilize the soil (plus the sand, dirt and gravel that’s already underneath). It’s not a must to choose brick or stone—some homeowners elevate their patios and build them out of wood—but there’s usually brick or stone somewhere to support the foundation.
When laying down the pavers or brick, be as careful as possible to make sure they’re well-placed and even. It might not seem like a big deal, but imagine what it’d be like to sit down for a barbecue and find out half the chairs rock back and forth. And if it happens to the barbecue itself, it can just be plain dangerous.
Once you’re sure the materials are laid down even and well tamped down, pour a layer of patio sand, sweep it across evenly with a broom, and then hose down the surface until all the sand is wet and even. This causes the sand to dry like concrete, but you’ll need to repeated the process a few times until all the cracks and seams have been filled (usually takes about a week).
After the base is laid, set and dry, it’s time to move back all your equipment and make it look like an outdoor oasis. Remember to keep size and perspective in mind by not putting patio furniture that’s too large or small for the space, as it can easily undo the hours you’ve spent perfecting the area.
Your backyard should be a place you relax in, so design it that way. If you like bucolic green spaces, consider a grape vine or landscaped plants. But if it’s modern or tech you’re after, try putting in a fire pit/fireplace with a big screen TV above it. However you decide to finish it off, you’re only limited by your imagination.