4 DIY Ideas for Creating a Patio on a Budget

Danny Lipford demonstrates how to use concrete forms on Fox & Friends.
Danny Lipford demonstrates how to use concrete forms on Fox & Friends.

If your outdoor space isn’t quite ready for entertaining, don’t worry. Here are simple ways to punch up your patio on a shoestring budget.

*Cost and time estimates below are based on a 12×12 patio area.

Packed Gravel

Gravel is a terrific choice for affordability and ease of installation. Start by marking the area for the patio and digging out the grass. Make sure the base is level and compact using a tamper. To keep grass from encroaching on the patio, you can use landscape edging, treated wood or bricks as a border. Line the area with landscaping fabric to block the weeds and allow it to drain. Spread the gravel so it is 4 to 5 inches thick, and pack it in tightly with a tamper.

Cost estimate: $560
Time estimate: 1/2 day

Crushed Stone


Crushed stone is typically something you would use as a base material for pavers, but we’ve found that it makes for a great patio space on its own. Once you tamp it down and wet it, it becomes a solid surface. You can use the same border material as you would for a gravel patio. This is also a great option if you plan to lay pavers later, as you’ll already have your base ready to go.

Cost estimate: $430
Time estimate: 1 day

Watch Using Paver Base as an Outdoor Surface for step-by-step instructions.


After you laid, tamped and wet the base material, and it has formed a solid surface, then you’re ready for the pavers. Pavestone pavers come in a wide variety of patterns, sizes and materials. Lay out the pavers and top with topping sand to lock the pavers in place.

Cost estimate: $1,560
Time estimate: 2 days

Watch How to Lay a Paver Patio for details.

Concrete Forms


Using concrete forms, such as WalkMaker from Quikrete, is another great option for patios. Although made of concrete, they can be made to look like bricks or stones, and can be customized by adding color to the concrete mix or staining after the concrete has dried.

Cost estimate: $1,480
Time estimate: 2 days

Watch Creating a Stepping Stone Path Using Concrete Forms to see how it’s done.


  1. Fantastic idea and so economical. I need to do something with my outdoor space. You have inspired me!

  2. So I have a question about the best way to proceed. I have a side of my house that is 60″L x 5″W and used to have some landscaping white rocks. I had them removed and have put a weed barrier fabric down. It has a 2 degree slope from the top to the bottom. I have a variety of pavers (24’x24′) that I am going to lay down as a walkway and surruound it with mulch. What’s the best way to do this and keep it level? I thought about using some paver sand and an edging to keep them in place. Any tips? Thanks in advance!


    • Be mindful of water when using edging as it restricts flow away from the house. Paver edging is less of an issue but from personal experience I would recommend you think about putting in some drain pipe, even 1 1/2″ perforated PVC in a couple strategic places to allow water to escape under the pavers and away from the house. I had a landscape feature with some pavers alongside my driveway and it trapped water which got under my driveway slab in late fall and then froze and my slab heaved and broke up. Costly mistake you want to avoid.

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the Today’s Homeowner community, Greg!
        TH community members helping other TH community members — we love it. 🙂


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