by Amber

Backyard or mini vacation spot, they are one in the same now!  We could not be more excited about our backyard!  We started with a blank slate; no grass, no privacy, and a deck.  That didn’t stop the dreaming though, from the day we moved in we started dreaming of all the things we could do back here.  Fire pit, patio, outdoor shower, privacy fence, and the list just kept growing!! We decided what was a priority and worked away at the list based on that fact alone.  We wanted a patio but needed a fence, so that came first.  Fast forward two years and it was time for the part we were most excited about from the start, a fire pit with a patio!!  Cooper was the only one in the house not convinced, can you tell?


February 2017, this is what it looked like just before we had the patio installed, you can see that we constantly killed the grass around the fire pit, simply because we used it regularly. 

This is the path going up to the deck before the patio install, it was mud all year, not fun with an 80 pound dog running through it to go in and out constantly.


Picture this, it’s the fall of 2016, leaves are falling down, weather is perfect in South Carolina, and we have a fire going while watching the sunset.  Sounds delightful right, except for a few small details that I didn’t include.  The yard was very uneven so the chairs were a little unstable, the left side dropped down a lot so unless you sat on the actual fire pit you couldn’t feel any heat, and since we didn’t have much grass from always using the fire pit we had mud.  If you weren’t careful the chair would sink down into the mud.  Don’t get me wrong, we still had a lot of fun but one night Daniel turned and said, “we really should install a patio.”  We started talking about the size, shape, adding a path to the deck, and the type of stone we would prefer.  We were just dreaming at the time but he showed me a few pictures of what he really liked and that got the idea started.

This conversation continued randomly until February of 2017 when he turned 30, he isn’t going to appreciate me outing his age, but this was his big birthday present.  Love you babe!  Since we have a very slopped yard and not a lot of spare time, I decided to call in the professionals and use this as a chance to pull off a great surprise.  Vision Scape to the rescue!  This is a great visual to show the slop that I was worried about when deciding if we should take on this process of installing a patio ourselves.  It wasn’t just the slope around the fire pit, the gradual slop starts at our house and continues to the fence.  This is a rough drawing of the idea we had for the space that I shared with Vision Scape, without Daniel knowing of course.

This plan was based on our existing fire pit and house plan.  The dog goes up and down the deck stairs constantly, that area also gets full shade, therefore we had a ton of mud!  To help keep our sanity we really wanted to create a path to help solve the mud problem you can see below.  We had a plan to move our grill to the bottom of the stairs, the space with the pine straw in the image above, so we wanted that area a little wider than normal.  We wanted a curved path to continue to the fire pit so when we entertained it would help keep the house clean from people going in and out all night, and a round stone pattern around the fire pit.  One night when Daniel wasn’t home I measured out with some string and a garden hose what I was thinking for the patio. I’m one of those people that just needs to see it.  Based on the plan and the photo below, Vision Scape gave us a quote and I was able to get on the schedule the week of his birthday! Score!

I was able to look at samples of the stones at Vision Scape’s office and decided on light grey, with a lot of help from the owner, Kyzer.  Before installing, I wasn’t sure I would like the grey color stone with the brown fire pit but he assured me that it would look great after some normal wear, he was right and I love it!!  For more detail about the fire pit click here, but now for the patio install.


This is what it looked like when Daniel came home to his birthday surprise.  Please note that if you try to surprise someone like this and try to write Happy Birthday on the ground, pink spray paint doesn’t show up on red clay, oops!!  It was kinda all I had… buuuuttttt lesson learned!!

These are the steps that Vision Scape took when installing our patio:

Step 1: Dig everything out to a 6″ depth.

Step 2: Lay a recycled concrete base down 3″-4″ deep. Water down and compact using a plate compactor or hand tamp.

Step 3: Spread a sand or washed screening base 1/2″-1″ thick over top of the recycled concrete. Be sure to pitch or slope everything away from home at 1/8″ inch every foot.  This is to ensure that water properly drains off of the patio.

Step 4: Be sure washed screenings are smoothed by using a 2×4″ of decent length or PVC pipe to glaze over top. Fill any voids or dips with sand or screenings. Start laying pavers! Keep tight and lines straight. Use a 3/4″ PVC pipe to bend at curves of patio to mark the cuts on pavers to make life easier. Use angle grinder or concrete saw to make cuts.  Beware, this makes a lot of dust!

Continue following step 4 until the pattern is complete. Step 5: Staple edging around pavers if needed and sweep sand/screenings over the top to help lock in pavers.  I don’t have photos of this part but this would be where you would install edging.Step 6: Add dirt and create slop if needed, followed by spreading seed and straw.  If I could read my dogs thoughts I imagine him to be thinking, “well something seems different.”  Below is the slope they had to create to get the patio level, this is why I put my trust in the professionals for this job.

Just like that we have a patio!! It took Vision Scape 3 days to complete this project and it was just in time to celebrate Daniel’s birthday with a group of our close friends!  Since February, we have really been enjoying this space.  We recently have been bringing our TV and DVD player outside and watching movies beside the fire pit, I’m officially spoiled.

Additional step if needed: when they installed the path they also had to move a sprinkler head that was almost under the deck steps.  They did this when we were at work so I don’t have much detail on this but keep this in mind when considering placement of your patio and plan accordingly.  Make sure to also be careful when digging.


It was time to decorate, I had only been thinking about this patio for close to a year and a half but still somehow had no idea how I wanted to decorate.  I started with flower buckets and moved on from there.  We did the following:

  • Moved wood Adirondack chairs to deck.
  • Purchased 8 chairs to go around the fire pit from Home Depot.
  • Purchased metal planters at an antique store in Asheville, NC, still hoping to find one more soon.
  • Planted flowers for the patio, for more info on what we planted based around our love for America, click here.

All of this, with the patio completion, really changed the look of our backyard and it increased the amount of time we spend outside even more.


Our backyard has required a lot of time and money and things didn’t happen over night, more like almost 2 years, but who’s keeping track.  It involved a lot of planning and designing with long term goals in mind.  With large projects like this we like to take our time, allow ourselves to save up for them so we don’t feel strapped for cash, and most importantly really think about how we can best use the space that we have.  We don’t want to do a big project like this and hate it 6 months from now because we didn’t really think it though.  Anyways, enough talking, check out these before and after photos!!

August of 2015.  When we moved in.  Barren!
February of 2017.  We landscaped a little bit during the summer in 2016 and were working on our grass up until this point.June of 2017, NOW!! This is it ya’ll, wwwwhhhhaaattttt?? Sometimes I seriously can’t believe this is my backyard!

This photo below is a better view of how the final patio lines up with the deck, also notice my sweet husband grilling while I took photos.  We plan to get one more planter to go beside the left chair but I can’t seem to find one.  Hopefully soon!  We did however build an outdoor table that you can kinda see, check out all the details on it.

We did square stones for the path that is directly off the deck as seen above, and a circular pattern around the fire pit as seen below. This is where the two meet so you can see how they tie together. To see more info on the antique bucket planters check out this post, and if you want to know all about how to add a flower bed that you see in the image below, click here.As always, someone thought I should be finished taking photos and insisted on charging me, so I will leave you with that!

If you live in Charlotte, NC or York County, SC feel free to contact Vision Scape if you are looking for someone to do any landscaping or hardscaping work for you.  After all the work that has gone into this space, some ours, some other peoples, it is officially time for us to kick our feet up and enjoy the weather, feel free ask questions below or just comment and let us know what you think of our transformation.

To see more of Vision Scape’s handy work check out our retaining wall part 1 & part 2, and our fire pit.  Click here as Haylie shares all about her patio install as well.  

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