When we bought our house there was really no usable outdoor entertaining space. One of the reasons we chose it (despite the fact that it is bright orange) was because of the yard space. But it really needed a lot of work and the plan has always been to do most of the outdoor projects ourselves. I really wanted to put in a patio. At the time, we were tackling several projects at once so we didn’t have a budget to do anything extremely custom or expensive. Our house is a Cape Cod style and we wanted to keep with the look and feel of the exterior.
I began pulling together some photos of other patios that I liked on Pinterest and tried to do as much research as I could. I like the look of grass growing between the stones and the irregularity of natural flag stone. Our patio is small, about 10×10.
Tip: A more informal patio like this one is waaay more forgiving than other designs that require a lot of precision.
- Flagstone – Mostly found on our property but we also purchased some at T.H. Mvey Stone Company right outside of Boston. (Flagstone is very inexpensive, great choice for this project.)
- Leveling Sand
- Rubber mallot
Here’s where we started:
This was the way beginning, like the day after we moved in (I told you the house was orange..). A few weeks later we put in some hostas and hydrangeas and ripped out the chain link fence just to make it look a little better in the interim. That’s what you see in the rest of the photos.
Step 1: Make the pattern
First we arranged the stones on the grass to get the shape and fit that we wanted. This took us forever. I can be kind of picky so we laid them out, moved them around, and then kept tinkering for a few days until they fit together just right.
When we were satisfied we took a picture so we could easily recreate the same shape. (Using chalk to number them would have been a good idea, too.)
Step 2: Remove the grass
Removing sod is way harder than it sounds.
Step 3: Rake and till the soil
Step 4: Put the stones in place
There are a lot of good tutorials out there and many recommend using leveling sand and fine gravel. The reason is to avoid cracking in the winter. If water gets below the stones and freezes, it could cause the patio to crack. We used thick, irregular, imperfect flagstone slabs so we weren’t as concerned with this than if we were doing a really level, flat patio with pavers or bricks. So, we didn’t use the gravel.
(I actually forgot (!!) to take a picture of this process but it wasn’t anything fancy. We put about a one inch layer of leveling sand below each stone.
This was NOT a precision job like you see done by professionals. We used more or less leveling sand depending on where it was needed and pounded with a rubber mallot so we knew that it wouldn’t settle unevenly.
Here’s what it looked like after we got it all level. We kept walking on it and adding handfuls of sand below any uneven areas.
Step 5: Fill in the gaps
We had a huge blue recycling bin that we put the soil in as we removed the sod. We filled in the gaps with this, minus the grass.
And here’s what it looks like now.
We put in some shrubs for privacy and did some other landscaping, too. It is so sunny so we put bought a pergola from Home Depot which we hope to replace with a custom one at some point. The table and chairs are going to be updated as soon as we figure out how we want to use the space.