Update: The second part of this article can now be found at Patio Upgrade: Part 2.
While thinking about the backyard today I realized that there’s been a project that I’ve wanted to do for a while yet it always seems to slip my mind when I have time for it. Before we get to the project itself, let me give some background.
Behind my house there’s a concrete patio which is 20′ by 12′ and is fairly good shape. Since it’s so well shaded by trees and the house, there is of course some algae growing on it but nothing a pressure washer wouldn’t fix. Nevertheless it is concrete and therefore built much more for function than aesthetics. I want to fix that!
To make it more attractive is surprisingly easy, since you can almost image that the concrete slab is nothing more than the underlayment for a stone-paver patio. If you look over at the (highly technical) diagram you’ll see that below the pavers is a “setting bed” which is also known as sand. And beneath that is a “compacted base”, aka gravel. The gravel provides a rigid support and base for the sand and pavers; the ladder two of which do all the work in being a patio. Therefore for my project, I’m using the concrete slab as the compacted base and then along with a layer of sand I can set the pavers.
The edges of the patio, also called the border, are traditionally the blocks that actually lock the whole patio together, otherwise over time the pavers can pull apart (especially important in cold, northern climates). For my application I’ll actually just glue the border blocks to the slab directly since A) The slab is in good condition and B) there will be plenty of expansion room if you place the pavers correctly. Drainage wont be much of a problem either if the existing patio is sloped appropriately (important) and you plan accordingly.
This afternoon I went out after the thunderstorms passed and picked up a few pavers and border blocks. The border blocks have to be around 1 inch taller than the pavers since the border is glued to the slab and the pavers have to be placed on a bed of sand. On top of this, I also picked up a roll of landscape fabric which will be used to keep the sand inside the patio area and to ensure proper drainage (think tea bag).
Today’s goal was to test out how the pieces looked and if any alterations or improvements could be made. While I’ll continue to think about the options, so far everything looks pretty good here. Soon my backyard will be as I planned it.
I also have dreams of building a pergola, but that will have to wait…