Cheapest way to build a patio

ttylerFebruary 28, 2009

I'm a low income single mother who is wanting to build a patio for our home. I'm not sure what would be my cheapest yet stable way to do this. I've had a lot of people tell me that pea gravel is good and then others say that concrete is my cheapest way. Its going to be a patio about the 10 x 15 so I can really use some advice

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Please do NOT use pea gravel, especially for a patio! Pea gravel used in circulation areas "squirts" everywhere and ends up in the lawn (great hazard for lawn mowers, windows, pets and small children) and everywhere you don't want it. Concrete is stable and is probably the best answer. I work for a landscape management company and HATE pea gravel because it ends up in the beds, lawn, etc. When you begin to talk about other pavers, the price goes up. Concrete is probably your best answer.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:37PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Cheapest: scrap concrete (off craigslist or wherever you find it). Other scrap material that works if you can find it includes granite countertop off-cuts (sink cut-outs are good) or scrap lumber, maybe from pallets (but lumber is slippery).

2nd cheapest: plain concrete pavers from your local big-box store. For a few dollars each you can buy 12x12 or 24x24 if you can get someone to deliver or lift them for you. Don't know your zone but in my zone I put these on plain dirt, no base required, and you can lift and re-level them if the dirt settles.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:57PM
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They all cost a lot. What you choose indicates how you wil pay for it.

Aggravation, effort, money, labor, and maintenance is the currency. Which ones do you not want to spend and which are you willing to spend?

Pea gravel can work fine, but it has to be done right. The problem is that it takes a lot of effort and understanding to do it right. More often than not, people who do not want to invest either of those are the ones who go with pea gravel. That is what most of us see or have experienced ourselves which is why so many people say it is no good.

Poured concrete is not an expensive material, but preparing for it is often hard work and takes some knowledge to form it well. Finishing the surface is not as easy as it may look.

Watch HGTV and you might think tossing a bunch of flagstone around makes a good patio.

All of it has a price to be paid one way or another.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 7:14AM
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I found broken concrete pieces on craig's list for free. We laid them, spacing a few inches apart, then shoveled crush gravel over them. When the gravel had packed well we swept the swept what was loose off the concrete and there was our patio. Also did the same thing in another area with concrete pavers that I poured in molds (pans and jello molds) that I found at TS.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 4:14PM
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I like how Laag described judging the economy of your decisions.

Heres a few thoughts based on experience to help you choose a design and materials direction

The cheapest material to lay down for a patio is compacted class II road base.
It comes in different sizes of Ârock sizesÂ. By using a small chipped rock size you can achieve a nicely finished looking patio for very little money.

I did all my paths in this material and would have done my patio with it , had it not already been installed with concrete.
In my geographic area ( one of the most expensive in the US ) it cost me $ 10.oo a yard in materials. I did the labor.

Link to photo - Stoney Point road base gravel :

Coming in second in regards to the raw materials is CRUSHED GRAVEL not PEA GRAVEL
The two types of gravel are extremely different in regards to price and how they work as a surface treatment.
Crushed gravel compacts down when the proper thickness is laid. The small stones are angular and compact down.
Pea gravel never compacts due to itÂs round shape. It will almost always be squishy under foot unless it is mixed with a binder.

Link to a crushed gravel patio area.

The next financial step up is recycled cracked concrete.
You can often find this raw product free but the amount of labor that it takes to lay the sub base and set the stone makes it a more costly product than crushed gravel or base rock surfaces.
Link _

Next up Pea Gravel - I never use it for a path or patio . I find it messy, uncomfortable to walk across and aggravating to set furniture on. I donÂt recommend it at all. It is a nightmare to maintain especially if you have an adjacent lawn , which makes it a down right dangerous choice.

Decomposed Granite is the next choice.
In my area this material is pretty costly in comparison to other surface choices.
Call around to the different suppliers to get price quotes.
You may find in your area that DG ( decomposed granite ) is the same price as crushed gravel or maybe even less. In my area it is significantly more costly.
It is a product that can be laid down by a DIYÂer.
I strongly suggest that you have a BINDER mixed in with your D.G. to keep it from turning into mud after a rain storm.
Link to a DG patio area -

There is also a DG. like material called Terra Pave. It is basically DG mixed with a super hard biner ( Pine Tree tar ).
It renders a hard as asphalt finish and is really lovely.
We professionally install it in the N.Cal area for about $ 10.00 a sq. foot.

Concrete is an excellent long term investment for a patio surface.
It will out perform the above mentioned surfaces ten times over.
The cost upfront is more $$ but in the long run , it is more cost efficient and low in the maintenance catagory.
Link to a colored concrete patio _

These are some of the most inexpensive surfaces for an outdoor patio.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 5:29PM
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We made ours out of broken paving stones from Home Depot. They sold us a pallet full for $5. Placed on a gravel bed of course ($30).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I am redoing my pathways to create a more maintenance free garden and want to use landscape cloth, concrete edging and gravel pathways.

I'm looking at DeWitt Pro-5. It's expensive and I'm wondering if their lower priced product would be good enough. They are guaranteed 20 and 15 years respectively. Dones anyone have experience with them and know if crushed gravel on top damages it?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 5:24PM
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I am just wondering if you have made a leap from 'somewhere to sit outside' to patio. Single mother no doubt comes with a child, a crawling falling child a ball throwing child? Considerations that will effect your choice of surface.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 6:48PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I see free brick for the hauling on craigs list often. You and a friend could go get it and arrange it on a sand base. Stable and cheap but nice looking if it would go with your house.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 7:51PM
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