We were cleaning up the yard recently and as I admired how nice the yard looks with the patio we put in, I remembered that the post I wrote about it was one of two that were only up for fifteen minutes before they disappeared with the hacking a couple of months ago. Since this was a really nice project, I want to share what we did with you!
As some of you remember, we decided to make our own brick patio. There are two ways to lay a patio – one is set in cement, the other is set on a gravel/sand base. We decided to do it with a gravel/sand base, since it’s more forgiving to work with – you can pull something up if you’re not happy with it and do it again; it’s easier, and if you decide to one day use the space differently, then it’s not a very big deal.
I can’t deny that making a patio is a lot of physical work – we hauled 14,000 pounds of bricks and 8000 pounds of gravel, both of which we got free on Craig’s List. Do you have any concept of how much shlepping that is?!? Trust me, alot! And then there the ground had to be dug up, which amounted to 10,000 pounds of dirt. And 10,000 pounds of sand from where it was dumped behind our house to where we needed it in the garden….yes, lots of physical work!
Because we started this project when the baby was six weeks old, the kids did most of the heavy hauling. I found the supplies, did the driving, organizing, and my share of physical stuff, too, though I tried to do work I could stay in one place for. Like chipping the mortar off of the reclaimed bricks that we used. But the kids really get almost all of the credit, particularly my ds16, who took the project from the idea in my mind to reality. He did the bulk of the heavy work, while also getting his younger siblings involved; they enjoy doing things with him. Dh didn’t have the time to be involved, though once or twice he came home when we were working and lent a hand.
We now have a lovely brick patio that is about twenty feet by 15 feet (about 320 square feet), that cost us under $400. My inlaws had a patio and walkway done a year or two ago, which together were a bit under the size of our patio. And you know how much it cost? $4000. Even though their patio looks more professional than ours, it doesn’t look ten times more profesional!
Here’s how the cost broke down: sand – $220 – I ordered 4.5 tons and had it delivered, which was the main expense. I got a half ton more than we needed to be on the safe side. But it turns out that we needed another ton, and we ended up having to buy that the expensive way, in forty pound bags from Home Depot. The additional sand cost us almost $80, whereas it would have been just another $30 if we had ordered more in the first place. We also ran short of bricks, so I had to buy contrasting pavers. That was another $60 or so. We could have made the patio a couple of feet narrower, but the kids really wanted it to be the size they were planning on, so I was fine with it the extra expense and shopping. We also had to buy a few tools, like a brick set, and a couple of diamond blades for our saw to cut the bricks on the end down to size. For the frame that the bricks were set in we used lumber from the deck we took apart. (The rest of the suitably sized lumber became raised garden boxes.)
So all in all, under $400! If I could have waited to get the sand for free (which I’m confident I could have eventually found), it would have been super cheap (saving $300 of the costs). But my yard was piling up with a mountain of excavated dirt, gravel, and bricks, and I didn’t want my yard to be a long term eyesore for my neighbors or (me!). I didn’t know how long I would have to wait before I would find enough sand. Plus, hauling is really a lot of work and we were all feeling kind of run down by the effort to bring the supplies home. Everyone felt the expense to have a truckload of sand delivered very worthwhile!
I also could have saved on the expense of pavers by getting enough bricks when I originally got them, but the bricks had all been stacked in a huge pile, and the ones on the bottom were firmly stuck in the dried mud. It was the heat of the summer, I was tired and running out of time to be away from the baby (since he was six weeks old so more than two hours was pushing it, and it was over a half hour in each direction to where the bricks were), and I wasn’t interested in prying them up. So I told my kids we weren’t going to spend the time and energy on it. They told me then I might regret it if we wouldn’t have enough for the patio, that they thought we’d need them. I told them I’d take my changes and pay the price if necessary! And that’s what I did.
We all agreed that this was worth the time and energy, even though there was a point that it felt endless. This is mainly because we had to stop for the Nine Days; you know how it is when you stop the momentum on a large project – it’s hard to get it going again. If we could have had one more day before the Nine Days began to work on it, we could have had it all done without feeling like it was dragging out. Thanks to everyone’s work, our new patio gave us the room to expand our sukka this year, it looks so much nicer, and the yard looks larger now than it did with the smaller platform deck. I think it’s because the patio is flush with the ground, and there’s nothing to break up your line of vision when you look out.
And it was hard to beat the cost! 😆