This post may include paid or affiliate links.

Be Inspired!

Subscribe for a free sweet dessert recipe delivered instantly!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

DIY paver patio installation. How to build a patio in your backyard!

As mentioned in my prequel post, how to remove blackberry bushes, we bought a house that had a very large overgrown garden that was completely engulfed in blackberry bushes.

We decided to remove the bushes and what do you know, there was an old patio under there! We removed about 500 bricks and sent them away to be repurposed and salvaged!

Building Steps on a Slope

After all that clean up, we installed a 16′ x 16′ patio.

It was a lot of work, but well worth it! You might be wondering, how do I install a paver patio?

Well, getting the layout,  dimensions, depth, and pitch just right is the first order of business.

I think the hardest part was moving 10 tons of gravel and sand from the front of the house to the back. But, we were able to get it all done in one weekend.

We had the gravel delivered at 8am on Saturday (in the rain) and we finished installing our paver patio installation at 8:30pm Sunday night!

How to Build and Install a Paver Patio

  1. Plan your patio – measure twice, dig once!
  2. Dig out the base – make sure there’s room to accommodate gravel, sand, and pavers.
  3. Compact soil, add landscape fabric. Add base gravel and compact every 2 inches.
  4. Screed Sand – use your screed poles to screed a 1-inch layer of sand.
  5. Lay pavers – lay your pavers directly on the sand.
  6. Add edging – your edging should hold your sand and pavers in place.
  7. Compact the pavers – use the plate compactor on a low throttle to compact your pavers (check manufacturer specs)
  8. Add sand to joints – fill your joints with sand.
  9. Landscape – add the finishing touches.

Today Only Savings from The Home Depot! While Supp

How to build a paver patio

For our 16′ x 16′ patio we needed 8.5 tons of gravel and 1.5 tons of sand. 

We used every bit too. I didn’t even have enough sand left over to make horseshoe pits. We also used 196 16″ x 16″ L-shaped concrete pavers which weighed 33 pounds each.

What does tons of gravel look like

Laying the lines for the DIY patio is a very important part of the installation. If you don’t start with a plan, things can get messy, quickly.

We ran a centerline from our deck to beyond where we planned to build the patio. Then we measured 8 feet on either side of the centerline to create a 16-foot span.

We measured 25 feet from the deck on both sides to mark the closest corners of the patio and then 16 feet out from there to mark the far corners.

Note: The square we dug out was almost 17′ x 17′ because the base needs to go at least 3 inches further on all sides to accommodate the paver edging and provide a nice wide sturdy base for your patio.  Now we dig!

Laying lines for a patio paver

You might also like:

How to Install a Paver Walkway

How to Install a Paver Patio

Dig DIY Paver Patio Base

While digging the patio base, it’s important to make sure it’s level (or pitched for your project). That will make the whole job go smoothly.

We dug out enough ground for a 7-inch gravel base, 1 inch of screened sand and 2.25 inch high pavers. The total was 10.25 inches from the bottom of our dug out area to the top of our pavers.

For the base layer, we used a product that consisted of 3/4″ crushed stone and stone fines, called hardpack. Some other people called it stay pack, it’s probably called something different in your area so check with your quarry.

Don’t buy from a box store – a quarry is much cheaper!

We first laid a very thin layer of the hardpack, less than 1 inch deep and spread it around. We used the plate compactor to compact this light layer and the sub-soil.

The thin layer of gravel helped the plate compactor move easier on the sub-soil.

Tip: Compact the crap out of it! Run it over the whole area at least 3 times. Compact, compact, compact! 10 times is better! The base is the whole project. If your DIY patio base is weak – your patio won’t last!

Compacting a patio base

Landscape Fabric

Next, you want to add landscape fabric to help keep any weeds or plants from coming up through your patio. It also helps prevent the hardpack from sinking into the earth.

Some people say it’s not necessary, but after removing ten million blackberry bushes, it’s worth the few bucks in landscape fabric.

Then, add your base gravel in 2-inch layers, rake it smooth, level and compact it with the plate compactor several times. Wetting the base a little bit (wet but not muddy) helps it compact nicely.

Remember, compact the crap out of it! You want to continuously check your lines and make sure you are still on track for your pitch.

We used the 8 foot / 1-inch pitch method.

Our patio is 16 feet, so our pitch is 2 inches from one end to the other headed downhill. You don’t want your patio to collect water, you want it to shed water easily.

Adding gravel base for a patio

We were on a roll and forgot to take pictures of compacting each layer and screeding the sand, sorry – we wanted to get our DIY patio done!

Paver Patio Screeding Sand

After compacting each layer of gravel, making sure your pitch is correct (and correcting it, if it’s not), you’re ready to screed a 1-inch layer of sand.

We used a 3/4 inch PVC pipe (1 inch outside diameter). Laying two pipes six feet apart, we filled in between and over the pipes with sand.

Then, using a 2×4 as a screed board, scrape it across the pipes making a smooth one-inch layer of sand. We repeated this until the whole patio had a one-inch layer of sand.

DIY Patio – Laying The Pavers

Below you can see the first few rows of pavers set onto the sand. Some people say to compact the sand before laying the pavers down, the manufacturer for our pavers recommended lightly compacting the pavers after they’re put in place and not compacting or touching the sand before putting the pavers down.

Just put the pavers on the sand and tap them into place with a rubber mallet.

You may be able to see where our screed polls were running left to right, we filled these and any other voids with sand and smoothed them out as we moved along laying the pavers in place.

Screeding sand and installing paver patio

Almost there! Just a few more rows left!

Laying a paver patio

8:30 at night, we finally finished laying the pavers!

Finished laying patio pavers

Okay, so the patio wasn’t 100% completed over the weekend, but I contest that if it wasn’t for the rain Saturday morning we would have completed it with ease.

Paver Edging and Polymeric Sand

Monday night we spent two hours installing the paver edging, compacting the pavers and adding polymeric sand to fill the joints and lock the pavers together. 

Follow the instructions to install the paver edging and polymeric sand.


Now that we’re finished with our paver patio installation, we’re on to a bit of landscaping.

We finished clearing out and raking down the rest of the garden area, sowed the grass seed and built steps on a slope to the patio, which are crushed stone.

The type of grass we have is Kentucky Blue Grass, so we used the Kentucky Blue Grass Seed.

We used a hand spreader to crank out the seed and covered it with straw to help prevent the ground from drying out too quickly.

Check out the progress below.

DIY Installing a Paver Patio

If you have any questions about our paver patio installation feel free to ask in the comments section. We’ve been plugging away in the back yard.

DIY Patio Installation

Update: We’ve completed the project! Check out our Finished Backyard Makeover!

DIY Patio finished


Be Inspired!

Subscribe for a free sweet dessert recipe delivered instantly!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Be Inspired!

Subscribe for a free sweet dessert recipe delivered instantly!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Be Inspired!

Subscribe for a free sweet dessert recipe delivered instantly!

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

But wait, there's dessert!

Subscribe for a free sweet dessert recipe delivered instantly!

Thank you for subscribing!

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend