Last year, after a long and never-ending battle with gophers eating my lawn in the backyard, I decided to rip it out and install modern, low maintenance landscaping. I also felt it would add value to the property by creating an outdoor living space.
So I hired a landscape architect to draw up a plan for me. The main component of the plan was the installation of 24″ x 24″ concrete pavers with gravel in between.
Architectural drawing for modern backyard design using 24″ concrete pavers
Backyard landscape drawing with concrete pavers
Those little squares are the pavers. They create a path from my back porch (bottom right of the drawing) to three patio areas (toward the middle).
This is what $500 got me, but I’m passing it along to you for nothing, so if you can use it, you’re welcome.
How to install 24″ concrete pavers
Step by step photos and instructions
Being the DIYer that I am, I really wanted to save a ton of money and do all the labor myself. The project started off well with me tearing out all the grass. Then I wanted to learn exactly how to install the concrete pavers.
My landscape architect was not forthcoming at all about the process. Extensive searching on the internet yielded nothing in the way of step by step instructions. But I did learn that each 24″ paver might weigh about 100 lb, so I caved in and hired someone to do it for me to the tune of $7,200, OUCH! This would have been much cheaper if the whole thing had been done with poured concrete, but the pavers give it a modern and unique look.
Adding to the cost was my choice to use the highest grade of concrete paver (who knew they came in different grades?). I think it’s called Stepstone and they’re supposed to be a lot more durable. They also had to be special ordered.
I ended up taking photos to share with you in case you’re brave enough to attempt this on your own. The plan was modified a little by eliminating the space between pavers on the three patio sections. All the other stones have 6″ between them.
Step 1: Mark out the design
Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of just this, but what they did is use wooden stakes and string to outline the area. (You can see a few of them in the picture below.) This included the pavers plus a 6″ border on all sides. The rest of the yard I would do myself later.
Step 2: Level the ground
Digging out and leveling ground
They removed 4″ of soil and leveled it as they went along.
Step 3: Cover the area with weed blocking fabric
Cover the ground with weed block fabric
Be sure to use a commercial grade weed block for this step.
They also threw some sand on top of it which I believe served to hold the fabric in place.
Step 4: Add a layer of aggregate and compress
Add aggregate on top of weed fabric
This photo shows aggregate being placed on top of the weed fabric. Aggregate is primarily coarsely crushed stone. It adds a stable base for the pavers to sit on. Eventually it becomes almost as hard as concrete.
Aggregate smoothed out
Machine used to compact aggregate
Then the aggregate was smoothed out and compacted with this gas-powered piece of equipment. I don’t know what it’s called, but this is what it looks like.
I’m guessing this layer was about 2″ thick. They had to leave room for sand and the pavers which are about 1½” thick.
Step 5: Add a layer of sand and level
Add sand on top of aggregate
The sand is meant to fill in all the gaps to make a smooth surface for the patio stones.
The sand was leveled by laying two parallel metal rods on the ground and dragging a piece of wood over the rods.
Sand leveled over aggregate
This photo shows most of the sand after being leveled.
Step 6: Lay pavers
Install pavers on top of sand
Lay the pavers on top of the sand.
Keep pavers in a straight line
To keep the pavers going in a straight line, rows were marked with string and stakes, with pieces of wood to act as spacers in between.
Step 7: Fill in cracks with sand
Fill in cracks with sand
Sand goes in between the blocks that are pushed together. It gets laid on top of the cracks and then a broom is used to sweep it into the cracks and sweep away the excess.
Step 8: Fill in spaces with gravel
Put gravel in between concrete pavers
Gravel was used to fill in the 6″ gaps in between pavers.
See the before and after
This is what the backyard looked like before starting this project:
Backyard before grass was removed
And this is what it looks like after installing the concrete pavers:
Patio pavers installed
And there’s lots more to come
So what did you think about this project? Do you think this is something you could do yourself? I’m just really glad I hired someone to do it for me. They did a fantastic job. And since then I’ve been busy working on the rest of it.
Wait ’til you see what else has been done! You won’t believe the transformation! Check back later for updates.
The next installment is here.
If you want to see the completed backyard makeover, please click here.