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Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

by | Sep 27, 2013 | Gardens & Outdoor Rooms, My Backyard, my house

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Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

A couple of weeks ago I told you all about our plans for a new pea gravel patio (including some great inspiration pictures). Fall is a great time to fit in a backyard project so I’m so excited that we got started. We’ve already made a ton of progress which I will show you today!

When we bought our house four years ago, it was new construction with basically no landscaping, especially in the backyard. It is a very small yard, with no trees and nothing really to work with in the way of any existing structure, patio or shrubs or anything.

Our ground is extremely hard (lots of rocks) so digging and planting was nearly impossible for me. I made the best of it with container plants and did hire some help to dig some holes for a few plants this summer. While I wanted a charming yard, anything really major was out of the question for our budget.

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

But with two pups running around, it was becoming more of a necessity to get some structure and landscape in the yard, otherwise they would just have fun all over the yard in the MUD all winter. And I’d be giving LOTS of doggie baths.

SO we started thinking more seriously about the need for a plan we could implement this Fall to prepare for the inevitable.

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

We went around and around with what to do to both give the dogs space to run, ways to keep the mud down and to create specific usable areas in our yard to make the most of our small yard.

Finally we came up with an idea to enclose a portion of our yard for the dogs to safely run (away from any new plants they could dig up!).

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

And then we would also start out with our first major usable space, a large pea gravel patio with a flagstone walkway around to the enclosed area for the pups. A mud free patio area was going to be heavenly and perfect for entertaining, too.

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

We had a couple of delays on getting the project started but that ended up working out well for me because I conveniently went out of town on business the week the work began. YAY ME!

My husband took control of the project and got some help to do the work because digging in our rocky dirt and moving gravel is a really labor intensive job.

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

I will probably describe the kind of rocks and the process we used for the patio and walkway in a more detailed post at some point when my husband writes out all the steps for me. But for now, you can see that there were quite a few steps involved from digging out dirt to laying landscape fabric and edging, to adding a deep base layer of gravel and compressing it, and then the top layers of pea gravel. And then removing all the excess dirt from our yard since we have no place for it!

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

The new fence and gate will start at the end of this soon-to-be-flagstone path.

You can see by the rock color change that there is no pea gravel in the walkway area yet (the gray is the regular gravel) so we can lay the flagstone.

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

Here you can see the patio area and the mound of dirt in the background which will eventually be the area we will use for our garden!

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

Now that the big part of the work is done, the fun part will begin!

I can’t wait to start adding potted plants, furniture and a new DIY fire pit!

Progress on a Fall Backyard Project: The Pea Gravel Patio!

Next step in the project is to have all that excess dirt and rock removed since we don’t have any space for it.

Then next is the new fence and gate for the dog area. We will lay flagstone for the path all the way from the deck to the doggie zone .

We will also be using flagstone for a landing zone for a new BBQ by the patio, which you’ll get to see in the coming weeks!

I do love interior projects, but honestly I get almost as excited about creating a charming backyard!

I’ll be back with an update soon!

What Fall outdoor projects are you working on or dreaming about?

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  1. Faith

    Great start! Its looking lovely. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  2. Shannon [Our Home Notebook]

    It’s looking so much better! I love the spot you picked for it and think the garden will just make it! Love seeing your potted plants around it.

  3. teresa

    Can’t wait to see it all finished….Hurry up already =) just kidding. I know it takes times….but if you are like me…hey I want it done yesterday. =)
    Have a wonderful day

  4. Eileen Beck

    It’s looking great! It’s amazing how defining an area (like your gravel patio) suddenly brings everything else into focus (like your planting areas). My one suggestion–and you’re probably already planning this, so just ignore me– would be to berm your beds. We’ve done lots and lots of landscaping and it’s amazing the difference just a little bit of elevation makes. The nice thing about that too is that you can bring in some good quality dirt and compost and then that’s what you’ll be digging in to plant your garden and won’t have to be toiling away with your rock. It will be less back-breaking and your plants will be so much happier. In your picture with the landscaper leaning on the shovel, the excess dirt already is starting to look like a berm and I thought instantly that it set off the patio area so beautifully. If it was kept all flat, it would be much less dramatic.

    Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience! A few years ago we did a new bed and spent a whole day planting everything and then stood back and went, “meh”. We loved the plants we’d picked, it just lacked oomph. Then we unplanted everything and brought in a few truckloads of dirt to mound it, replanted, and voila! It was gorgeous.

  5. Louise

    Hi, Melissa. – it’s fun and also informative to see your back yard growing into the vision you all have for it. My comment goes back to the inside of your home. I’ve realized that the many delays you encountered in waiting for people or products to show up amounted in a literary sense to SUSPENSE. The progress of your house was really on my mind the whole way and I was always eager to read the next post. When it was largely finished, I felt, satisfied and relieved that you’d achieved it, and glad you could slow down a bit and just putter. But I feel bereft by the loss of the continuing story! Of course I remain a Faithful Reader. I just wanted to share my revelation about the incredible power of suspense. I’m enjoying this year’s Fall series and have visited quite a few of the other bloggers’ sites, to the great detriment of my discretionary time! More thoughts remain about your house completion but they would be more appropriately expressed separately, as this is already plenty lengthy. Suffice it to say Keep on truckin’! Best —

  6. Mindy

    Yay, it’s already looking awesome!!!

  7. Richella Parham

    This is going to be awesome, Melissa! I know it will look charming when y’all get it done. Organic and homey and warm and welcoming all at once!

    I LOVE the use of pea gravel, and it’s a great choice for affordability, isn’t it? When we lived in Michigan, we had a densely wooded back yard (i.e. no grass would grow). We had a load of pea gravel and a load of larger rocks dumped in our driveway and created paths and walkways. It took a lot of labor, but it was so worthwhile! And the neighborhood kids were all fascinated with our piles of rocks. They brought their wagons and took some of our gravel to put under a swingset in a neighborhood play area–it was the cutest thing! :)

  8. Cynthia

    Wow things are really coming along. I am sure this is very labor intense. Good luck with finishing!


  9. Tanya

    What a project!! Its looking good :)

  10. natalie

    Hi Melissa,
    I am loving your posts about Fall as I too am a big big lover of Fall (or Autumn as we say in Australia). I am so glad to see your fiddle leaf is still around and trying to recover. I really couldn’t give you any tips as I am in a climate where it’s pretty much always sunny and we’re going into spring so my FLF is sprouting new big leaves overnight! Don’t give up hope :)
    Loove the pups too

  11. wendy

    after all the storms this weekend, i’m thinking your dirt pile might be a mud slog now and spread out all over your back yard. :-( I’ve been on flood patrol all weekend, and this morning had to deal with water in my basement. sigh.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It seems to have stayed put! We have someone coming to pick it all up for us but unfortunately I think it weighs about a ton more today than it did a couple days ago :-).

  12. Leah Shindelman

    I really like how your patio looks with the curved design. So much that I am going to do it. We are almost to the point of laying the gravel layer but I’m going to curve the edges first. We have even a smaller yard that was all rocks that have to be dug out and moved for the patio and to find the dirt to plant in. I like the idea that Eileen Beck had to make berms to give visual interest to the planting areas. Do you know the name of the plant with the pinkish red flowers in the lower corner of the picture of the patio with the umbrella in the middle and dirt mounds in the background?

  13. Jenna

    Looks great! I’m wondering how you are getting along with the 2 doggies and the pea gravel? We just finished a patio extension and used pea gravel, with a few stepping stones. The dogs sort of kick it up and make it messy, as we do as well. Did you use epoxy to “set” the pea gravel?


    • Natalie

      I would also love to know if you have set the gravel with epoxy. We have one dog and she tends to disrupt the gravel walking as well. I’ve been thinking it would be best to epoxy, but am still only thinking as there is a lot of gravel and wanted to research if it was effective.

  14. Debra Murray

    What about where there is snow? Would you cover it but then with snowblower and shovelling! Just wondering?

  15. scott

    Is this the pea gravel that you water and it hardens? Or is it loose pea gravel?

  16. Daniel Hanawalt

    Love what you did with the pea gravel. Been thinking about doing something like this myself. Now I’m convinced. I have the same problem with hard ground. It’s red clay and full of rocks. I rented a skid steer from a local hardware store and that make the digging easier. I also used it to build a waterfall with some of the rock I dug up. I also had some rock from an old house with a stone foundation. All that’s left to do now is the sitting area with the pea gravel. Enjoyed your article very much. Thanks!


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