I love how this little alcove turned out. One of Elsie's major strengths is having a vision for making something beautiful most others wouldn't even consider as an option. As you can see, this space was perfect for a great hang spot. The first thing I did with the space is lay down some paving stones. I'm going to tell you briefly how I did it and share some tips I picked up on the way; it was my first time doing it! Since this was my first time, it may be more about what NOT to do. Let's see.
-leveling paver sand
Step One: The first thing I did was prepare the ground. It had some bigger rocks and junk that I removed. I probably could have just poured the sand on top of the grass and went from there, but that would have been way too easy! I took my shovel and hacked all the grass off, then laid a tarp down since I didn't want grass or weeds growing back up through cracks. This is a good time to measure your space so you'll know how much material to purchase.
Step Two: This is where I really got my workout. I initially just laid out all of the stones right on top of the tarp. I thought I had leveled the ground enough and it would be fine. I was wrong. The tiles were all disheveled and wonky. I almost just left it, but it was so bad I couldn't stop thinking about it. Plus with the tarp, they probably wouldn't have settled much more, so it would have been eternally terrible. I went and got several bags of leveling sand, removed all of the tiles, and started over. Above is how I laid out the tiles, but before I used sand.
Step Three: Lay down leveling sand, preferably before you put down the tiles, unless you really like putting down and picking up heavy things.The amount of bags you use depends on your space. You want around half an inch of coverage. There is info on how many bags you'll need on the bags, so just give those a gander when you're out buying supplies. The great thing about the leveling sand is that it anchors the tiles in place, which makes for a stable walking surface, which is always nice!
To lay out the sand, I just threw the bags in a couple of general areas, broke them open with the shovel, then raked it out as level as I could. Once the sand was nice and level, I laid the stones down, again. I just tried to keep the first row as straight as possible (the stones nice and snuggled close together), and the rest of the rows stayed pretty straight. Of course since I did the right thing and laid down the leveling sand, the stones were 87% more straight and stable. To top it off, I poured some pea stone around the perimeter.
I'm so happy that I redid the stone with the sand. It really didn't take much time to remove them and put them back, and it was worth it. One more no-brainer hint: the kind people at Lowe's (or wherever you go to buy your supplies) will help you carry and load this many stones, probably with a forklift. I had a cart filled with close to 70 12" paving stones, and boy, did I feel a bit ridiculous as I struggled to get them to the register. Oh well, I got a workout out of the deal.
Leave your questions, tips, hints, or landscaping stories in the comment section below!
Happy building, and remember to lift with your legs. -Josh
Credits // Authors: Josh Rhodes. Photography: Josh Rhodes and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Piper from the Signature Collection.
Hi Alex! They are from Target 🙂 – Jacki
Looks great. Where are the string lights from? Thanks
I love this project so much! Showed it to my man and he’s quite enthusiastically on board to fix a dingy little area of our yard that our baby is always trying to play in. I can’t wait! Thank you so much! And may I ask, where did you find that fabulous rug?
thanks for some great ideas! i am going to “upgrade” my small balcony this weekend and I got some great tips from this!
Where is that rug from? I’ve been obsessing over it since I first read this article!
great post! thanks josh + sarah– you two are the dream team
I actually work part-time at a garden center that sells landscaping paving stones and such, so I have the list on the supplies they recommend down pretty solid by now! So here’s what I usually tell people to do if they want to put down a patio area:
-about 3-4″ of crushed stone, tamped down to make it level. (The type they sell here is called crusher run, and it’s basically a cheap grey stone with a lot of dust in it.)
-About 1″ on top of either sand or stone dust–the stone dust is a little cheaper, and easier to camouflage if it comes up through the cracks for grey stones!
-Paving stones on top of that.
Hope that helps!
STUNNING!!! great job guys as always!!!
Wow, I love how you’ve created a whole party patio from a seemingly useless little corner of the yard! Fantastic job on the pavers, Josh! Will you be writing a tutorial on how to build those bench seats? They look so great, but possibly very difficult for a DIY beginner (me) to do.
Good question Kate, and funny you should ask, because I just called the city development office today for a future project I am super excited about. As far as I know we don’t have to get a permit for something this small scale. In regards to my future, secret project, it had to be over 100 square feet to get a permit. The alcove was only like 50, or something. It’s always good to check your city regs though!
GAH! Ya’ll make this look really easy. The hubby and I just bought some pavers and have yet to put them down anywhere.
This new outdoor space looks so cozy and welcoming! I love the wrap around seating, it leaves the center space super open and easy to move around in.
I’m curious to know about your experience with permits while building this? It’s possible that where you live it might not have been necessary. However, every place that I’ve lived tends to get high rainfall. Because of this its usually required to get a permit whenever you change the penetration of water in any particular area on the land. What was the “legal process” like for you, if you chose to follow it..?
Thanks for any advice and experiences you can share 🙂
I’m hoping your next tutorial will be how to make the bench seats! 🙂
It’s amazing to see you do so many renovations by yourself! Thanks for sharing how you do it, it’s really helpful! 🙂
The tile turned out fantastic! I love seeing these awesome diys that you guys are doing!!
haha! 🙂 -Sarah
Elizabeth, fortunately the stones fit great without having to cut it. But yea, for this space, I probably would have just filled in spaces.
Tara, thanks! cutoffs are my summer uniform.
Sarah, that’s one of those great, why didn’t I think of that?! tips. Awesome. thanks!
Lols get a room guys.