When we moved in our house a few years ago, the backyard was one of the things that made us say "Let's buy it!" But that doesn't mean we did have some improvements to make. The site of our new gravel patio used to be where the previous owners had a swing set. We have a nice big deck off the back of our house, but the patio allows for more entertaining space and most importantly a fire pit. Below are the general steps we took to make our patio...
1) Dig down about 4 inches the entire area you are hoping to cover with your patio. That seems very simple but for us took the most time. Much easier to say than to do! Also, its good to have a plan of what you might want to with the displaced dirt.
2) Tamp the dirt.
3) Shovel in enough "traffic bond" or small pea gravel to cover the entire area to a 2 inch depth. You will want to make sure everything is relatively level at this step but a gravel patio is much more forgiving that a brick patio.
4) Tamp this layer of gravel.
5) Now the next steps are what we did, but is the fun and creative part, so if you are thinking about attempting a similar project have fun with this part. We added landscaping lumbers that matched the borders to many of our flowerbeds. We then put bricks lining the landscaping lumber. The bricks we used where also left by the previous owners, they are imperfect and discolored and I love them! Under the lumbers and bricks we put leveling sand. This is the part we were most concerned with everything being level. We got a long level and tried our best to have the sand level everything out. Though this was the step we were most concerned with leveling, we eyed a far amount of it too. (Again, way less particular than a brick patio.)
6) We also added a small star burst for where the fire pit would sit. We used a trash can lid, put sand around it, and then leveled out the bricks, each going longways and making a bursting pattern. Then, of course, removed the lid.
7) Pick out your gravel! We discovered while Lowes and Home Depot sold gravel it was much cheaper to buy from a bulk landscape place. However, that might be because we have a truck, delivery costs might drive up the price much more. We picked a purple granite mix.
8) After shoveling out all the gravel in the nooks and crannies, the only thing left to do is place your furniture, fire pit, and have a fire!!!