Jesse and I have been gathering our momentum when it comes to DIY projects around here. I think that this is partly because our confidence has been growing the more we finish things with a certain degree of success!
One of the projects we embarked upon early this summer was a patio for our awkward courtyard that is sandwiched between the garage and the french doors of our downstairs bedroom.
Here’s what it looked like when we bought the house:
This little spot felt so awkward and gross to us. I mean. there was a ratty old carpet, and a cheap outdoor couch by the door. We felt that the french doors should open onto something more welcoming!
We considered using pavers for a while, until we realized that for our 9×10 plot, we were talking about something close to $300-400, when all was said and done. We wanted something more immediate, rather than waiting forever to save up.
Then, I read a few interesting reviews for a $25 product on Amazon called the Pathmate. We didn’t know anyone who used it, but we got excited and decided to give it a try.
After just under $75, here’s what we ended up with!
I didn’t take step by step pictures, but here’s what we did:
Concrete– 15 bags x $3
1 bag of bark– $4
Sand– Free from my inlaws’ creek bed! Any sand will do, as far as I know.
1. Clear out and level the ground. Don’t skimp on this step! If the ground isn’t level, the mold won’t sit well, and the concrete won’t dry level. We used a 2×2 board on the ground to determine whether or not the ground was level.
2. Find a large wheel barrow to mix the cement in. DO NOT waste money on the cement mixer that they sell! As long as you have a hubby with huge guns, he can mix all that concrete, even if you decide to do this project on two of the hottest days of the year (whoops…).
3. Mix up a batch of concrete, using hose water and a shovel. We found that things worked best when we had a soupier mixture than the directions called for.
4. Place the Pathmate mold in your first spot, and have one person spoon the cement mixture in with the large shovel, while the other person smoothes things out with a small trowel. We found that this method was less messy than pouring it in with the wheelbarrow.
5. Wait 3-5 minutes, shimmy the mold gently off, and move it “next door”! It should fit together like a puzzle piece. You can also add concrete stain at this point, although we didn’t.
6. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat……make sure you have lots of water to drink……(seriously, why did we choose to do this project in JULY????).
7. When you have the patio shape you want, wait at least a day for the concrete to “cure” (see, Dad! I could’ve been a civil engineer like you!).
8. Add sand in the cracks to smooth it all out and hold it together. You definitely don’t want lots of bugs making their homes in the hundreds of 2 inch deep crevices! Yikes! We used sand from Jesse’s childhood home, so it was free.
9. After pouring it on liberally, use an outdoor broom to sweep it all off, making sure that the sand settles where you want it to in the cracks. Then spray it down with the power nozzle on a hose.
10. Dress it up! We used bark for the edges. I would have LOVED to plant flowers, a little trellis, etc., but we have 10-15 deer visit our yard on a daily basis, and nothing survives the onslaught.
That’s it! While I still love the look of travertine tiles, this was a MUCH MUCH cheaper option, and I’m so glad we gave it a try! Next up, we’d love to build a small box enclosure for our ugly air conditioning unit!
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