{outdoor style} Backyard Evolution Part 2 - Modern Patio Construction

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Last week, I kicked off a new series of posts that I'm calling "Backyard Evolution," where I'm going back in time to show you how, over the course of the past six years, we've slowly been changing our small, urban backyard work for us - from our young couple status when we bought the house, to our current status as a family of four with two young boys who need more room to play.

Last week, I shared some photos of what the backyard looked like when we moved in, and I talked about the initials plans we made. This week, I'm going to show you the construction of the patio that we designed specifically for entertaining.

Modern Concrete Paver Patio Construction

But before I walk you through the patio construction process, let me remind you what we started with {you can also read more about the "befores" and the evolution of our design plans in Part 1}.

Before photo of small, urban backyard

A few things I want to point out in this before picture... (1) the patio in front of our outdoor fireplace {at the bottom of the photo above} was much too small to be functional; (2) the building at the top of the photo is our detached garage, which is a sea of white stucco; and (3) the air conditioning unit was an eyesore in the yard.

We determined that we wanted a large patio that would allow plenty of room for entertaining, so we decided to utilize the entire space between the house and the garage. After looking at the cost effectiveness and practicality of numerous patio options {which you can read about here}, we hired a landscaper to install a patio created from 3 foot square concrete pavers. In addition to being much more affordable than a stone paver patio, we felt that this style would fit well with the modern architecture of our home.

The process began by ripping out all of the existing concrete and grass between the house and the garage.

Patio Construction

The landscaper recommended moving the AC unit around the corner of the garage, which we agreed to, but unfortunately it couldn't be moved very far back, leaving it still in an awkward position right in the middle of our remaining strip of grass {an issue we are finally now addressing in our latest round of landscaping, and which I'll show you in a few weeks.}

AC Unit Relocation

AC Unit Relocation

Once the space for the patio was leveled, the crew began construction of the planter bench against the garage wall {which was inspired by a photo I came across in Sunset Magazine the year before}. The purpose of this bench was to add both style and function {my favorite kind of project}. The bench would add interest to the sea of white stucco on the garage wall, and would provide added seating around the outdoor dining table we had purchased in anticipation of the new patio.

Planter Bench Construction

Next, the pavers were delivered {and I snapped a quick photo late one night after work before installation began}.

Concrete Paver Patio Construction

The following day I returned from work to find that the patio was starting to take shape! It's always so exciting when a project finally reaches that point where you can see it really come together!

Concrete paver patio construction

At this point, I was getting really eager for the patio to finally be complete so that we could start to enjoy our outdoor fireplace {which is also open to our kitchen}!

Concrete paver patio construction

Concrete paver patio construction

But first, the gaps between the pavers needed to be filled. We initially thought about filling these gaps with pea gravel or grass {two common choices between concrete pavers}, but both options had some big negatives {as I discussed in last week's post} that caused us to look for alternatives. The landscaper recommended filling the gaps with a dark mortar, and the crew got to work.

Modern concrete paver patio

The final step in the process was the completion of the planter bench. The cinder block structure was covered in white stucco to match the garage and the wood bench was added.

Modern, urban patio

We were eager to get something planted behind the bench right away, but it took quite a while for us to find just the right option. From the inspiration photo in Sunset Magazine, we knew that soft grasses would end up flopping over the bench, making it hard to sit there, but when we researched stiffer grasses that grow tall and straight, we learned that most of quite spiky and would be very uncomfortable if you leaned back against them.

We debated on some kind of crawling vine, but that didn't seem to be the right choice for the style of our home, so the search continued. Finally we happened upon the perfect solution while wandering the aisles of our local nursery - it's a plant called Elegant Feather, which is a perennial in the northeast, but can only grow as an annual in our neck of the woods {Colorado}.  What makes Elegant Feather so fabulous for the planter bench is that it grows straight and tall {upwards of 6 feet by the fall}, but it is incredibly soft - it definitely earned it's name!

Elegant Feather

We placed three large pots on each side of the bench and added the furniture that we had purchased the year before on clearance. At last, our backyard was ready for entertaining!

Modern Patio for Entertaining

In fact, we wasted so little time setting up for our first party that the only photos I have of the completed patio from that first summer were taken while we were setting up to host {hence the black table cloth covered banquette tables along the fence line where we preparing to set up food for that first shindig}.

I absolutely love the modern, grid pattern of the concrete pavers! The color of the concrete blends nicely with the white stucco of the garage, as well as the lighter tones of the stone on our house, and the dark charcoal mortar ties in the darker tones of the stone. 

Obviously, by choosing to add such a large patio, we eliminated some grass {not that we had much to start with}, but the work we are doing this summer is helping to address that problem and give us a bit more space for the kids to play. 

So now that you've had a peek at the completed patio space, come back next week and I'll talk more about how we use the space for entertaining and I'll give you a more close up tour of the pops of color we added to the patio! 

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  1. Where did you order the 36x36 cement pavers? And what was the cost per paver?

    1. Chris, The cement pavers were fabricated by our landscaper. I honestly don't remember what the cost per paver ended up being...but I do know that the landscaper also gave us bids for various other patio options {like stone pavers, stamped concrete, etc}, and this was the most cost effective option {other than a solid poured concrete patio, of course}.

  2. I live in Portland, Or and have called every landscape supplier looking for 36x36 square pavers. So happy to see your blog on this - so beautiful!! - and just found this comment about your landscaper fabricating them, so now I'm wondering if that is something my husband and I could do...build a frame and throw in the concrete. Any thoughts on how doable that might be based on your experience with them? Also, how has the mortar worked out? We've been weighing grass vs. pebbles vs. steppables... Thanks and happy to have found your lovely blog! Patio is amazing <3


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