Paver Patio

Bye-bye mud! The crushed rock base layer.

I had this attractive muddy corner in my backyard…a leftover space with potential… adjacent to my existing patio. The easiest solution was to pave it, and I like easy!

This is a simplified version of how to install pavers, I have included 3 videos below describing a bigger, more detailed project. In Seattle, Pavingstone Supply recommended that I use just 3″ of 1/4″ minus crushed rock as my base and no sand (versus 7″ of rock and sand in the videos below).

The key piece to making your patio look nice forever is the base. It must be solid and compact or it will shift and settle unevenly over time. My area was small so I didn’t want the expense of a compactor rental. We started by compacting with the square end of a long 4X4, but seemed to have far better success by spraying the area with my hose twice a day for 2-3 days and walking on it.  (bye-bye mud – I was feeling better already!)

Verify the pavers will fit and line up.

We verified that we had the 2 1/2″ of space from the base to the paver tops that we needed. My base layer was level, not sloped; my thinking was that any water that hit it was going to seep between the joints of the small-ish pavers. If I were using large pavers or paving right next to the house I might slope the patio away by 1/8″ per foot, just to keep water from accumulating next to the foundation. It’s raining (&raining&raining) in Seattle right now and no problems so far… If I do get settling I can always pry up a paver or two and backfill with more crushed rock.

Next we installed the plastic edging. Note that it’s installed with the flange facing in as I wanted the patio tight to the fence. Now the fun part– laying the pavers! I try to never line up joints (because your mistakes will show so badly), so I chose a “running bond” pattern where joints are purposefully staggered. We would lay 3 pavers, check the level, pound down the high spots and backfill with more crushed rock in the low.

We are low by one finger width.

The line is starting to stray, but I'm persuasive with my hammer- back in line!

We also had a long “straight edge” to check the straightness of the row. If it started to veer we would position a 2×4 against the edge and give it a good whack and things magically evened up. Hey Look! A Hammer! Our best friend at this point.

Check your level and row straightness often so that the minor adjustments are easy. Last step, sweep sand over the joints and you are done!

This project took about 4 days, off and on. It takes patience to keep things level and straight, but it’s not complicated. Take it one step at a time, take breaks, and have a friend– it makes all the difference!

Tools we used:

  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • A 2 1/2 to 3′ level
  • Hose
  • A length of 4X4, 4′ long or more, optional. Or a tamper. Or a compactor.
  • Hammer
  • An old piece of straight 2X4 to hammer against (so I don’t damage the pavers)
  • A “straight edge”, which can also be a really straight board and should be 2 1/2 to 3′ long.
  • A friend, to keep it fun

- note regarding above video- to slope your digging and base layer simply measure down the desired depth from your second string line.  Slope 1/8″ per foot, it looks better.

3 thoughts on “Paver Patio

  1. Well, you make it look so easy but I know how much work would go into that. I’ve never attempted it myself but watched a neighbour get his whole driveway done and after taking cookies and cocoa over to the guys was able to ask a bunch of questions, LOL. BTW, I tried to watch the video’s but they come up ‘private’.

    • You’re right about the work, when we did the big patio it took a long time plus we rented equipment to compact the substrate. This little piece was pretty easy – maybe because it’s bound on all sides? It’s staying level too which I was a bit concerned about.
      Odd about the video links, I’ll look into that and update them! Thanks for letting us know, we try to stay on top of those things (because we are annoyed on other sites when they don’t work – maybe we should be a little more forgiving- eh?)

      • eh? That’s my line…LOL. I know once I loaded a movie to YouTube and forgot to change it and no one could view.
        The paving stones have become pretty popular here because if there’s one sure thing about cement is: it cracks.

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