One of the first improvement projects we took on in our new home was our courtyard and lounge area. My family and I can be pretty handy, but we did not renovate the bathrooms or kitchen ourselves. While we waited for those projects to be completed, working on the courtyard and lounge area was a way to feel like we were contributing to our new home.
Before the final reveal of these spaces, I want to focus on the process of adding the pea stone patio. Anyone can take on this project, even if you've never built a thing in your life! Not only is it easy, but it's also an affordable project that will make a huge impact. The one restriction of this project is it takes a lot of muscle and sweat. If you're willing to do some heavy lifting, keep reading…
This is not the first time my family installed a pea stone patio. My parents added one to their home a few years ago, and after seeing how simple, inexpensive, and gorgeous it was I knew I wanted to replicate it at my own home.
The courtyard: the pergola and picket fence were existing to the home. The plan is to use it as an entertaining/lounge area with room for flower beds. The center of the courtyard was grass, and I knew if we removed it, it would make the space more comfortable, less buggy, and require less maintenance.
The lounge area: was a herb garden in disrepair. We have a killer view off the back of the house, and we envisioned adding a gravel patio where we'd place two lounge chairs. We'd then line the perimeter with herbs which would be easily accessible from the kitchen.
how did we do it?!?
I've laid this out step by step below, but watching the video may be easier!
STEP 1: remove all of the grass/debris/large rocks. I rented a sod cutter to remove all of the grass and strip it down to the dirt.
STEP 2: Frame out garden beds and or/the perimeter of the pea stone area. We used 6"x6" pressure treated wood in 8-foot lengths. You'll need a saw to make cuts, but I believe you can have them pre-cut at your home improvement store.
Position a joist in the ground. The joist should be approximately two feet long and will run perpendicular to the perimeter of the patio. Dig a hole to accommodate the joist so that the top edge of the joist is level with the ground. Then, lay out the pressure treat beams perpendicular to the joist. Each edge of the beam should rest half way on the joist. Lastly, drill a pilot hole for the metal rebar stakes. Drive the stakes through the pressure treat beam all the way through the joist with a sledgehammer. Continue these steps until you've formed your perimeter.
For the corners, position the joist at a 45-degree angle as the diagram below and follow the same steps listed above. In addition to the steps mentioned above, drill a hole through the outside beam, and drive a rebar stake through the side and into the connecting beam.
STEP 3: Lay down landscaper's cloth to prevent weeds from growing through the stone. We tucked the landscaper's cloth under the pressure treat border using a very handy tool...a butter knife. To keep the cloth in place, we used landscape fabric staples.
STEP 4: Lay down the Item IV. Item IV is a mixture of machine-crushed stones mixed with sand and dirt which will form the base layer of your patio. Lay down a 2-3 inch layer of Item IV, wet it with a hose, and then use the tamper to compress the material. The tamper will crush the large rocks and compact the Item IV to make the ground level. Make sure to wear goggles!
STEP 5: Before adding the pea gravel, make sure the Item IV layer is relatively level. One side of both the courtyard and the lounge area is ever so slightly lower than the other, so water doesn't pool. Do note; water will absorb into the ground as the Item IV is porous, so don't worry too much about pooling water.
STEP 6: Add the pea gravel. Spread a 1.5" layer of pea gravel with a leaf rake.
I'll leave you with the following images of the courtyard and lounge area. We still need to add a seating area and lighting to the courtyard, and a few accessories to the lounge area. I'll be back soon with an update!
6"X 6" 8' Pressure Treat (Approximately $30 per piece) I used ten pieces
Sod cutter (for areas that had grass. I rented this tool for $20/day)
12" Rebar stakes ($1.20 each) I used fifteen
1/2" drill bit ($9)
High powered drill ($25)
Chop Saw (you may be able to have your hardware store pre-cut the pressure treat if you provide them with the measurements, or you can rent one.
Landscape Fabric Staples ($18/150-pack)
Landscape Fabric ($20/roll)
Item IV ($48/per yard) I used approximately three yards for the two areas.
Tamper (I rented this tool for $85/day)
Pea gravel ($30-75/per yard depending on the type) I used approximately three yards for the two areas.
Leaf rake ($27)
In total, this project cost me approximately $950 for both spaces. I did not include the tools I already had (i.e shovel, wheelbarrow, drill, hose, chop saw, and leaf rake)
I hope this project inspires you to take on something similar at your own home! It's very straightforward, impactful, and low maintenance. If you're willing to put in some muscle, you'll end up with a gorgeous lounge and entertainment space to enjoy year round!