Remarkable Patio Renovation on a Budget

This week, we’re helping a young couple with a patio makeover that’s as much about recycling as it is about renovation.

This little house, built about 60 years ago, is home to Joe and Audra Essig, along with their daughter, Arlow.


Joe and Audra have a nice-sized backyard, but an old retaining wall closes them off from it and the aging patio is a little rough and difficult to enjoy. Then there’s Joe’s micro-fire pit. It was his first home improvement project here, but it’s not large enough for entertaining outdoors.

And the patio has three levels of different materials: concrete, brick and pavers. The result isn’t just unsightly, it’s also a tripping hazard.

So, besides replacing Joe’s miniature fire pit, there’s plenty of work to do on the patio. We’ll remove the existing brick retaining wall and planter. Then we’ll take up the existing pavers and create a proper foundation before re-installing them in a more interesting pattern and giving them some color.

Finally, we’ll add a concrete countertop to simplify entertaining. 


Remove Pavers and Regrade Patio

We expected to find a concrete slab from an old patio beneath the pavers, but since there’s nothing but dirt, we’ll have to create our own foundation.

Once we remove all of the pavers, we lay out the new footprint and check the grade of the existing ground. You wouldn’t believe how many homes we see where the grade slopes back toward the house, which means rainwater will pool around the foundation, which is never a good thing.

Since the grade here is good, our next step is compressing the soil and broken mortar with a plate compactor.

After that, we add the paver base and grade it. We run the plate compactor over the space again and our handyman, Bear, gets Joe and Audra started on chipping the mortar off old pavers. It’s a slow process, so we set them up with an air chisel to speed things up, and then they pressure wash the pavers. 


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