Our backyard has sat untouched for the last two years while we tackled the more important projects within our house. Because of this, we didn’t really go back there. There wasn’t much reason to do so! With all of our furniture sitting on the grass, we found that as soon as we sat down we would be swarmed by the Ottawa grass flies (something we never had to deal with back home). This year though, our neighbours gifted us a gorgeous little gazebo, which inspired us to finally put some effort into making the space more useful.
The problem though was that every single option we considered seemed to cost more than we wanted to invest. We are fairly confident that we will only be in this house for a few more years, and are also unsure of how often we will actually use the backyard. So, knowing those two things we were hoping to spend as little as possible. In our minds, $1000 all in was as much as we would go for. That was our budget for building the patio, building a set of stairs from our patio doors down to the patio, and furnishing the space. It would be tight!
We started our planning by first considering various options, the pros and cons of each choice, and what each would cost. We looked at Quickrite concrete molds first, the pea gravel, wood, and ready made pavers. Each option ended up costing way more than we first speculated though, as there are many other expenses associated with properly excavating the space. In order to properly level your area and ensure good drainage, you have to dig out a significant amount of dirt and fill the hole back with either gravel and crushed stone or just crushed stone – depending on the dirt in your area. That alone would cost between $150-$400, and there was no way to know which end of that spectrum you would be on until you began digging. Great.
So basically, we resigned to grass and a carpet. Defeated, I decided to give my best friend Kijiji a chance, since we have been so lucky in the past. And, yay!, we managed to find an unreal deal! Someone in our area was getting rid of 40 2X2 patio pavers for just $40!! SOLD! Tom ran over to lowes to rent a truck ($20), and then proceeded to haul 4000 lbs of cement out of the sellers backyard and into ours. WOOT WOOT – we had supplies!
As Tom began to dig, we were happily surprised to find that our soil was more clay than sand, which meant we would only need to lay a thin layer of crushed stone down. We needed about 2″, which worked out to $35 from a landscaping depot (or $150 if we got it from Home Depot). Again, yay!
Tom began by placing pieces of quarter round at the corners of our yard in the space we wanted the patio to occupy. Then he tied string around the perimeter, and moved things around until we had a perfectly square square that lined up with our house and patio. Then he used spray paint to mark the spot, which was easier than worrying about the string getting misplaced.
The whole process took us about three hours, with Tom digging and me heaving the dirt into the open lot behind our fence (on of the perks of having no rear neighbours). Tom then used a thatching rake to level out the area, and a tamper to pack everything tight.
Chloe helped too, of course!
Next we laid down a layer of weed barrier, which we got from the dollar store. We weren’t as concerned about weed growth – we mostly just wanted a way to separate the crushed rock from the soil. Having it separated made it much easier to work with. I didn’t catch a photo of this part, since Eva was napping on me by this point, but this is where we were at by the time she woke up:
More than halfway done! Tom said that it was fairly easy to place and level the stones, so things went a lot faster than planned. A lot of that was because he is such a brute though. I couldn’t even lift a single stone, let alone move it around enough to level it. This is definitely a job that requires some serious strength, since each paver weighs about 100lbs.
To level them, Tom would first place them, then check their levelness (how do you say that??) and then adjust by either placing more crushed rock under the paver or removing some. Not an exact science at all, ahah.
After it was level, he would do a massing jump and stomp to ensure it was packed on there really well. This ended up causing him to burst a ligament!!! His entire thigh turned purple – but he said it didn’t really hurt that much (again, he’s a brute). Poor guy ❤
And then it was done – we had a patio!!!
We decided to also lay down Ikea’s RUNNEN tiles, both to give the space a more finished look and to add some bounce to the ground. We initially chose the dark grey colour, but it got SOOOO dirty that we took them back. We contemplated switching them out for the lighter grey, but we didn’t like the colour nearly as much. Especially not for $350… But then we found nearly new ones in the as is section, and we scooped them up for 70% off!! WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! Tom and I both love a deal, so getting them for only about a third of the price made the lighter grey seem pretty ok.
Here he is, laying them in the rain. Don’t they look amazing? We love them.
I will share some more photos and info on the furniture we’ve acquired for the space once I get things all set up back here. I’m currently in the middle of DIYing some cushions, so I’ll get back to you when their done 😉