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Frank and Suzanne Hicks are empty nesters who have raised five kids in their home over the past 28 years. Frank loves to tinker with smaller, creative projects, but Suzanne had a grander idea in mind for their backyard that had “gone to the dogs.”

We helped the Hicks family create an outdoor entertaining space that takes advantage of their shady backyard, featuring a natural surface pathway that ends in a patio for their picnic table. We also incorporated a fire pit and a few of Frank’s unique projects along the way, including a prep table made from a slab of cedar and a rustic iron chandelier.

Creating an Outdoor Surface with Paver Base

For the pathway and patio we used compact-able paver base from Pavestone, which packs tightly together to create a solid surface.

We started by laying out the path, then cutting the fiber cement siding we used for forms to contain the paver base.

After a little excavation, we installed fiber cement form boards on either side of the path.

Suzanne and Frank spread the base material while their dogs supervise the process.

Because these remained in place to retain the paver base, we staked them on the inside of the form, just a few inches below the top.

After we tamped down the soil, we were ready to spread the paver base material.

We filled the forms all the way to the top, so the only part visible was the narrow edge. After compacting the base with the tamp, we had a stable finished surface for the pathway and patio. We installed Haven fixtures from NuTone for landscaping light, as well as mosquito protection.

The fire pit was built using a kit from Pavestone.

Watch Using Paver Base as Outdoor Surface for step-by-step instructions on this project.

Building a Fire Pit

The fire pit kit we used from Pavestone consisted of wedge-shaped blocks in a variety of sizes and a metal ring to line the pit. The ring helped us mark the center so we could lay the stones based on the color-coded plan.

The narrow edge of each wedge lined up on the outside of the circle we marked on the ground. Between the rows we applied construction adhesive to lock the blocks together.

Frank Hicks made this beautiful iron chandelier that we installed on the overhanging branch.

Watch How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit from a Kit for more info.

Incorporating Homeowner Projects

We loved working with the Hicks because they had lots of fun projects we could incorporate into their outdoor entertaining space.

We wanted the dining area to be the destination for the winding pathway, but first we had to rehab that old picnic table, to which Frank had made numerous interesting repairs over the years.

We removed the damaged parts of the table and rebuilt the supports before Frank and Suzanne primed and painted it.

Above it we hung Frank’s rustic chandelier from the overhanging tree branch, creating a stunning focal point for the dining area. Frank made the globes for this fixture from mason jars using a neat trick.

The bar has a new home along the pathway.

Watch Cutting a Glass Jar with a String to see how it’s done.

His potting bench, turned bar, sat on an unlevel deck; so we removed the deck and gave the bar a more accessible home along the walkway.

And, we added some braces to the tree trunks to support a slab of cedar, giving the illusion of a floating prep table among the trees.

The cedar plank prep table is situated between three trees.

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Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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