What to know about a patio installation — and the cost
Patios make a great addition to any home for outdoor entertaining, relaxing under the stars or just plain hanging out. But you want to be sure to install a quality patio that will last a long time. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.
It’s about more than just the stones: Contractors doing a thorough job will install a layer of landscape fabric to prevent weed growth, lay several inches of crushed gravel and compact it, install a leveling layer, and then the pavers. They’ll also use “polymeric sand” to lock in the pavers, creating a barrier against weed growth and insect burrowing.
Think beyond the patio materials: Details matter. For example, the edging of the patio can help make it pop with contrast. If installed correctly, it can help prevent pavers from shifting. A unique pattern can give your patio distinction, and you might consider design ideas that bring it into harmony with the house or yard. Your family and guests will surely notice these details, so get ready for some compliments.
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The grade of the land matters: The land grade moving away from your house should be six inches for every 10 feet to allow proper drainage. A patio needs a slight pitch — about one-quarter-inch for every foot of length away from the house. If your home has a steeper grade, expect to pay extra to accommodate grading requirements. Next to materials, grading has the most effect on your patio’s final cost.
Consider how your project affects your home and yard: In particular, walkways serve a functional as well as aesthetic purpose. It can break up the monotony of a large yard, direct guests to a patio, or accentuate a fountain or your favorite landscape feature.
Think about future repairs: Eventually, even the best-built patio will begin to wear out. You can extend its life with regular maintenance and addressing minor problems before they get out of hand. A pro can repair minor cracks and holes fairly quickly. A skilled contractor can remove and replace individual blocks or pavers as needed or complete a thorough resurfacing.
Use a good sealant: You should apply a sealant to your patio to protect it over the long term from the effects of sun and rain. The sealing will vary depending on your material; concrete, for instance, requires a resealing every two to three years.
Patio material options
Your material selection affects your patio cost more than any other factor. Here are the pros and cons of some of the most common options.
Stamped concrete: Stamped concrete offers the most potential for a unique look and a strong foundation. However, with a price range between $2,700 and $6,500 per project, it’s one of the most expensive patio and walkway options. The exact price per square foot depends on the design.
Flagstone: This refers to any stone cut into layers and laid out in interlocking shapes. It is another expensive but distinctive option at around $15-$21 per square foot.
Pavers: Bricks laid out in interlocking patterns are a versatile option. Depending on the quality of the material, they cost between $6 and $30 per square foot.
Concrete: The most common choice for patios and pathways is also one of the most durable. It costs about $3-$6 per square foot for concrete.
Gravel: Gravel pathways run about $1-$4 per square foot. They may be the most basic walkway designs but also the easiest to install.
Try these 6 tips to save money in your yard
Remember: Seeds are cheaper than plants
Many vegetables are easy to grow from seed, and a $2 seed packet is a lot cheaper than a full-sized plant or buying vegetables from the store. Try tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans, lettuce and beets from seed.
They’re easy, even for beginning gardeners. Start them indoors under lights for a head start, or sow directly in the garden. If you’re nervous about starting from seed, seedlings purchased from a nursery are typically only slightly more expensive.
Save money on soil
A large container can be expensive to fill with fresh potting soil.
To save money, place one or more empty nursery pots upside-down in the bottom. Not only does it reduce the amount of soil needed, it reduces weight, too.
Invest in a mulching mower
A good mulching mower pays for itself in several ways. First, you don’t have to pay to have grass clippings bagged and hauled to a composting facility. Second, returning clippings to your lawn is like free fertilizer. Over the course of a full season you’ll return about as much nitrogen as one full-strength feeding.
And when fall comes, do the same with fallen leaves.
Inspect your sprinklers
Long watering is an expensive proposition in the summertime. To make sure your sprinklers are operating efficiently, have an irrigation expert do a walk-through water audit and suggest ways to reduce water bills.
If you have an automatic irrigation system, use sensors to make it more efficient. They can help you water exactly as much as needed and no more.
Trade perennials with other gardeners
Mature perennials in your garden are a valuable resource. Most perennials can be dug up and divided, yielding two, three or even four splits. And each of these can be replanted elsewhere. Even better, trade with other gardeners, swapping divisions of your perennial for varieties in their gardens that you’d like to try.
Plant a tree for a more efficient house
If you have a hot western wall exposed to the afternoon sun, try planting a tree that will shade it. Not only can it add to the overall aesthetic of your surrounding yard, the shade it throws can significantly reduce your cooling costs.
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