Phase One is complete! PRAISE! This project has been a long time coming, but I needed the starts to align...aka an empty weekend, a willing husband, and an available to borrow pickup truck! Ha! Well, it finally happened, and everyone who has seen the transformation first-hand is AMAZED. If there is even a tiny thought in your mind that you might want to create a pea gravel patio, do yourself a favor and GO FOR IT! I wish we would have made this happen sooner, but so happy we did it! Watch the backyard makeover video.
This is only the first step in a major backyard overhaul, but it's definitely the most impactful, and probably the cheapest part of the whole makeover (gravel is pennies compared to patio furniture!) ;)
Let's talk supples. I'll elaborate in the details, but here's what you'll need. All in all, we spent around $200 to get the pea gravel done.
- pea gravel
- pick up truck
- rubber mallet or hammer
- rake (leaf rake or metal rake)
- edging material to put around the perimeter of the area so gravel doesn't escape
- weed barrier fabric + metal yard staples
First things first, how much time do you need to do this project? It depends on your space! If you're organized and have a similar sized space as mine (around 300 sq ft.), plan for 5 hours. NOT BAD!
I did a few things to prep in the days leading up to our pea gravel day so my husband would only have a minimal time investment! I did everything I could do by myself and only asked him to help with the actual pick up and unloading of the gravel (aka the most physically strenuous part). Ok, sharing the process below, broken down into steps. There are many ways to execute this project - here's how I did it!
Before you start digging up your yard, put in a few minutes of prep time. MEASURE the area. Rough measurements are fine, but you need to know how much pea gravel to purchase, so get out your tape measure.
Call your local stone provider. I used AAA Sand & Stone in Dallas/Richardson. They typically work with commercial and landscape companies, but are happy to help with smaller residential projects. That means, your order will *most likely* be too small for them to deliver, so you'll need to pick it up yourself. My area was about 300 sq ft. and they sold me "one yard" of pea gravel (that's a volume measurement and the unit they sell gravel in). If you give them your measurements, they'll be able to tell you how much pea gravel you need.
- Prep work! Clear the area.
Before you can think about pea gravel, you need to clear out the area you're putting the gravel. For me, that meant digging up grass and weeds. I spent about 6 hours total doing this and broke it up to 3-4 mornings so it was manageable (and a great workout!). In the above photo, you can see that I was left with dirt; I had one low area that I leveled with 2 bags of top soil, but for the most part I was good.
- Install edging.
See the brown rubbery material at the bottom of the fence? That's the edging to keep the gravel in place. I used edging along the fence and the gate to keep gravel from escaping through the gaps under the fence. This step was annoying but easy.
- Weed barrier fabric!
Again, annoying but easy. Above, you can see the black plastic/fabric used to prevent from weeds from growing up through the gravel. There were quite a few different options to purchase, but I went with a roll that was 3' x 100' because that seemed the closest to my space measurements. Keep in mind that each strip of fabric needs to overlap its neighbor by 2-3 inches. You'll use landscaping metal staples to secure the fabric into the ground.
- Place any landscaping stones or pavers.
This was fun! We used some old pavers to create a walk way then purchased four new 2x2 pavers to create a focal area where we will (most likely) put a firepit and a few chairs.
- Start adding your pea gravel!
Work outward! Start adding gravel to the furthest point from your pea gravel pile. For us, this was the part closest to our patio. We started added our pea gravel, one wheelbarrow at a time. My husband brought in a few loads around the edges while I was finalizing my stone placement, then started dumping gravel over the stones while I raked it into place. This part didn't take long at all and it was amazing to see the transformation!
- Rake rake rake!
It's a simple process, and you will be amazed at the end result! I wiggled a few of the paver stones to make sure they were level as I was raking. We laid pea gravel about 2-3 inches thick. Any deeper than that and it's tough to walk through!
- Finishing touches!
Of course, we will be adding some landscaping (container garden style) and patio furniture, but our first step was hanging some Boston Ferns (I'm obsessed with them!) and our twinkle lights.
I had a LOT of questions on Instagram about how we hung the ferns, so I'll share that information here too! You can see most clearly on the farthest fern: there is a black hook coming out of the top of the fern. Yes, we purchased Boston Ferns that are in "hanging baskets" so that means it's a potted fern with a plastic attachment and a hook at the top of the fern (the hooks are detachable); most Boston Ferns are sold in hanging baskets.
I purchased hanging hooks that attach to the fence to hold the ferns. They come in a range of sizes and styles; mine were only a few dollars each.