Backyard makeover

We wanted to do something to our backyard to make it livable. Tried different things over the years but somehow the area used to look bland eventually. So finally decided to give it a mega-makeover.

The plan was to build a half-half of brick patio and artificial grass, have flowering plants around the edges and a playhouse for the kids. Here is the basic crux of what needed to be done, gravel base followed by sand and then either brick or artificial grass.

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Created this proof-of-concept in a cardboard box. Used excel to come up with patio brick layout. Went through too many iterations and finally decided on something that we could do ourselves and will look descent too.

First step was to clean the area of all the dirt, stones, weeds, and what not.

Then had the miss utility guy come over and mark off the underground tv, gas, electric lines etc. This was not required but we weren’t sure how deep we may have to dig and if at all we would hit any of the underground cables. Later on as our research progressed this was not required but it was good to know about this free service and how it worked. Its pretty awesome in a way.

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Installed weed barrier, the black cloth like material seen around the edges.

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1 bag patio paver base material is 0.5 cu ft – It would take roughly 66 bags to cover a 200 square ft area 2 inches thick – $3.49/bag at home depot would be $230.34 just for the paver base. Started to look like this was not going to be economical. So searched around and found a wholesale place, which gave 2 scoops of a bulldozer which is around 28 cu ft for $18.25. Now we are talking !!

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Same place sand costed me $23.95 for 28 cu ft. For the pavers (patio bricks) costed me $3.21/sq ft and I had around 800 odd bricks. The artificial grass was from Lowes (Synlawn) around 165 sqt ft costed me a little less than $500. Glue ordered it online from xgsonline.com and pins and u-nails from hunnydograss.com.

Some of the patio designs we created in excel, finally ended up doing the following.

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lawn

This is how the lawn was designed.

Some other technical things that I had to be aware of was to slope down 1″ for every 8 feet for rain water to flow away from house (bought and used a line or string level for the first time, which was fun), so for a total length of 12 feet, 1.5″ slope. From the bare ground I would have
3″ of paver base
1 1/4″ of paver sand
2″ of paver
so 1/4″ over ground level. This would be flush once pressure is applied on the paver over time. Also used good old Pythagoras theorem to make sure the area was square or at right angles.

truck

A family friend of ours lent us their truck and wheel-barrow which just worked out perfectly for us. The truck could hold only one scoop of material at a time, so had to do multiple trips back and forth. Also I even picked up a truck full of paver base from someone’s left-over job who was giving it away for free, craigslist zindabad!

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putting down the gravel base.

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base complete, also had started to layout the weed barrier for the artificial grass.

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bricks or patio pavers.

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Put the sand and started laying the bricks. The stamper tool in the above picture is also one awesome of a tool. Haven’t really used it after this project, but its just awesome.

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Half side finished and kept it covered via a tarp and other plastic overnight.

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Nailed down paver edging and put the bonding sand on the top. This sand is very fine and has to get into the grooves between the bricks. The next step is to spray the area down with water. If any of this bonding sand is left on the surface of the brick then its permanent. This fairly simple looking process is very very painful and time consuming.

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Finished patio. So now the next step was to get on with the artificial grass. Before getting on with that changed gears slightly and assembled this bench, bought online at overstock.com. Its a picnic table cum bench.

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So as I started preparing for the base for the artificial grass the playhouse was already bought and ready to be assembled. Also I was still waiting for some more material for the grass so decided to get on with the playhouse assembly.

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Playhouse was almost complete. There was one more piece left which was the side bench, but decided to do that later, after taking care of the artificial grass installation. The thought process was to use any left-over grass around the playhouse to give it an authentic look.

So back to artificial grass installation.

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So almost done, brick patio, artificial grass, picnic bench and playhouse.

Put left-over grass around the playhouse and installed the side bench. Also installed lights inside the playhouse.

Took around 40 odd days, but it was a great learning and strenuous (no need to join a gym) experience.

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