After our previous backyard makeover, we started another one about 8 years later. We wanted to create a drought tolerant landscape with no grass. So we were throwing around ideas of using pavers, rocks, and decomposed granite.

We first did a small project creating a tree border using pavers. We wanted to see how easy it was to work with pavers, both cutting and setting them. Mike cut the pavers using a hand saw with a masonry blade while I kept the stone wet with water (from the hose). He realized for a larger project he would need to buy a real wet saw:

We were happy with the results so we decided to use the same pavers to create a patio on our side yard. I quickly put together a plan, although the design was changed later to include decomposed granite and a curved patio. The plan helped us with knowing about how many pavers to order although ultimately we had to buy more to replace defective and damaged ones:

Our first step was digging and removing a whole lot of dirt. It was back breaking work! I tried to do as much of the labor as I could since I’m home during the week. I found it best to work on it for a couple of hours every morning. If I did it much longer than that my back would be sore for days. We did eventually invest in some back braces that helped a little. We would then spend the weekends refining what I did by leveling the ground. Our son helped haul the dirt to the other side yard where it stacked up:

Later, we hired a crew to haul away all the dirt. Surprisingly, we found out that dirt is the most expensive thing to get rid of. It cost us $1,650! But how cute is that tiny bobcat?!:

We got deliveries of top sand and California Gold decomposed granite from a local landscape materials shop:

And we got our pavers (Providence Victorian concrete pavers) from Lowes delivered:

We had a gravel mix base that we tampered down and added landscape fabric on top. Then, we used PVC pipe to help with leveling the top sand. We made sure there was a 1/4″ slope for every foot sloping away from the house:

The PVC pipes worked great! When we were ready to lay tile we pulled the pipes out and filled it in with sand:

We added pavers in small amounts as we leveled the sand. We laid them out in a herringbone pattern:

We even got some free child labor from the neighbor kids. We paid them with candy:

We purchased a Gorilla cart for this project. It worked great!:

We installed full pavers first and did all the cuts last:

We also decided to extend our gutter pipe and buried it under the pavers covering it with gravel:

We purchased a wet saw that made cutting the pavers much easier but way more messy. At this point, the outside temperature was in the 100’s so we set up a tent cover to provide some shade:

Mike quickly wised up to wearing long sleeves and covering his face while cutting:

After all the pavers were in, we filled the joints with perma sand:

We then focused on the area that would become decomposed granite. This is what it looked like before digging:

We dumped 2 1/2 cubic yards of decomposed granite and watered and tampered it multiple times:

We found some cheap, comfortable adirondack chairs for sitting around the fire table:

We completed the project within 5 months:

We also finished our other side yard 6 months later by just leveling the soil and putting down bark:

We still haven’t touched the middle of our yard which is just a rectangular shape of weeds. Eventually, we want to replace it with artificial grass which is all the rage in our area. It’s pricey though so we might have to install it ourselves.









Pavers 3.5″ x 7.1″ x 1,864 (includes $80 delivery)


Hauling dirt removal


California gold decomposed granite 3 cu yds + 6 cu ft (includes $60 delivery)


PermaSand paver joint 40lb bag x 14


Top Sand 3.5 cubic yards


Mulch brown x 47 bags


Adirondack chairs x 4


Fabric landscape and staples


Wet saw 7″ and saw blade 7″


Pressure washer


Tools (shovel, rake, tamper)


Utility dump cart


Tarps x 3


Pebbles lodi 3/8″ x 5 bags


Landscape edging x 2


Back brace x 2


Plants and veggies


Drainage pipe 25′ and 3″ emitter


PVC 1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ 40′


Trashcans (to hold leftover materials) x 2


Paver base x 4


Misc (bucket, knife, cable ties, drop cloth, mallet)


Pavers 5.8″ x 5.8″ x 10