Anyone have experience with "instant" patios?

Next month I’ll be moving into a townhouse with a small, fenced-in backyard that I hope to somehow turn into a patio. I remember seeing a couple of products in a catalog that seemed like they’d do the trick, and I found them on the Taylor Gifts website (I know, I know: Taylor Gifts isn’t known for high quality): patio pavers, and patio blocks.

Does anyone have experience with these things? Or enough general experience to recommend/warn against this sort of thing? My intent would be to leave the pavers/blocks out there all year, maybe on a layer of sand or something (for leveling). I know that the grass will die, but I don’t know what else to consider.

Alternately, does anyone have suggestions for other ways I could accomplish this “instant patio” idea? One restriction I have is that the change probably cannot be permanent: I’m just going to be renting the place, and while I’m going to ask the homeowner about putting something substantial out there I won’t be surprised if he says that I’ll have to be able to return the backyard to the way it was whenever I move out (so I’ll have to re-seed, etc.).

Those look like a really bad idea. They’re really expensive, you can get a 16" square concrete paver for $4 at Lowes, these are double that price. They’re made out of plastic, so they have no weight of their own to keep it solid. I’d be worried about them tipping and tripping anyone who walks over them.

You can try just working with the grass. Keep the lawn nicely trimmed and level, and put your furniture out there. Or, go to your local supply place and get some concrete paving stones. They’re heavy enough to not slip and slide around, just make sure the ground is flat and solid when you lay them down. I’d go with the larger stones so each piece is more solid.

See, these are the things I neglect to think about, not generally being the lawn/garden type. Thanks for the reality check. :slight_smile:

Frankly, I prefer the idea of putting something over the grass and killing it – this way I won’t have to move the outdoor furniture into the living room every time I need to mow the yard. There’s no grass out front to speak of, and there’s limited storage space in the house, so I’m kind of hoping to be able to get rid of my push-mower.

Another good suggestion – thanks!

P.S. I noticed your location: both of my parents went to Montclair State, back when it was still a teacher’s college (they graduated in '70). :slight_smile:

You could go au natural by buying and laying out some flat stone and filling in the cracks with pea gravel. We have had an explosion of landscaping rock places where we live, I assume they’re ubiquitous. The drawback is that they’re not as level as pavers, but maybe that’s not an issue for you?

Well, you just add some water, butter, salt… oh, wait. Patios.

I’d go with what Cheesesteak says here about the paving stones. My grandmother loves all things cheap and instant, and she had something similar to what you linked to in her backyard for a short time. They were really ugly, they never lined up as nice and neat as it looks in the pictures, they scuffed up really easily, and overall they just looked incredibly tacky. Bleh.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

Misread as: Anyone have experience with “instant” pathos?

Yeah, lots.

Except it’s never that easy.

To install a patio PROPERLY. . .whether using natural stone, or concrete pavers, you need to remove the grass, dig out the area, lay down a layer of gravel/sand/stone dust.

Set the stones in your base so that they’re tight and (hopefully) level. Then, grout the stones with stone dust. You really want levels, rubber mallets, a tamp, and devices for packing/grouting.

And that’s without using mortar.

You’re going to have to bring in the stones and stone dust. You’re going to have to remove the sod.

You’re not going to do that. . .SOOO, is there a “Harry Homeowner” way to do that cheaply in an afternoon without much heavy lifting or work? Not really.

You can’t just drop a bunch of concrete pavers onto a lawn (no matter how flat) and expect to have something you can put furniture on, much less be able to walk on. Grass is going to grow between the stones. They’re going to roll, slide, divide, sink, rise.

Your furniture legs are going to push the pavers apart. Every step you take on it is going to move and roll the pavers.

Water is going to either pool or wash out areas.

Believe me, it’s going to be useless AND look like total shit AND you’re going to have to do more work when you move out.

I second what Trunk says.

Quite a few years ago I wanted to add a outdoor spa next to my existing concrete patio. All I needed was a 10x10 foot smooth flat floor to set the spa on. That area was presently a lawn that I thought was almost perfectly flat. One side of my square would be against the house, one side against the existing patio, and the other two would extend out into the lawn.

Being a young, strong DIYer, I decided to make my own spa base. I would use concrete planter edging on the 2 outside edges to enclose the area, pea gravel to level the area, then lay 12"x12" plain concrete pavers to form a 9x9 solid floor to set the 8x8 spa on. Once the spa was set on it, there would be no traffic to disturb the pavers & hence no need to grout, etc. Sounds sensible & easy, right? Right? RIGHT???

WRONG. Totally Wrong.

First I bought the 20 feet of edging and 81 pavers, cost about $200 in 1990. Good thing I had a truck since that all weighed about 400 lbs. I also bought 5 20 lb bags of pea gravel at the usual insane price for small packages at the big box store. But since I wouldn’t need much, the high price per bag was only wasting maybe $20, right? That was another hundred pounds to load/unload 4 times.

Set up the edging, added the 100 lbs of gravel & it looked like I’d dropped a teaspoon of sugar in a bathtub.

Got serious with my level (waay before lasers it wasnt easy for a DIY to accurately determine level across a 10 foot span). Turns out I had about a 4" slope in that 10 feet, 6" drop across the diagonal. It was very smooth & regular which is why I hadn’t seen it before. Whoever graded the yard for drainage had done a very nice job.

TO shorten the rest of the story … I had to build a dike 8" above grade at the low point to hold the gravel. I used oversized pavers buried on edge. It wasn’t as pretty as the origonal edging; in fact it looked like crap.

Then it took 1 TON of gravel to raise the bed to level. At least I was getting smarter & had a real gravel company deliver a dumptruck load to my driveway.

So after a couple hundred more bucks more into the project & 3 weeks of all weekend work & all week soreness I have a crappy looking bed for the spa.

So all’s well that ends well, right? Not really.
For the remaining 3 years we lived there we had problems with the lawn growing up through the gravel & also the bed subsiding here & there. To “save effort” I’d just buried the lawn under the gravel rather than removing it. Instead I spent all that effort & more shoring up the results.

Remember, this was a “patio” with no traffic on it. This was also in Vegas where there was no drainage or freeze problems to contend with.

Bottom line: the ONLY sucessful way to make a patio is the real way: Guys come in, remove the lawn, place a form, and pour real concrete and level it. Or they come in, remove the lawn, build a multil-layer bed with proper drainage & set real paving blocks, not stepping stone squares misleading labeled “pavers”.

Thanks, Trunk and LSLGuy!

I’m already around to your way of thinking: after replying to Cheesesteak’s post yesterday I went to Home Depot’s website looking for pavers. They don’t sell them online, but I started poking around their “Let Us Build Your Patio” pages and quickly became convinced that the only way to do it right is to hire someone (especially after reading about the whole sod-removal thing, which they mention).

It’ll be a pain in the ass, because it probably means I’ll have to get approval from the HOA, but the lack of a patio is the only thing keeping the house from being perfect. So now my plan is to wait until spring (tax refund), talk to the homeowner and the HOA then, and if they both approve I’ll get an estimate. I wish I could do it in the fall when there won’t be much demand for patios, but I can’t see being able to afford it before Feb/Mar. In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with the grass that’s out there. :slight_smile: