Hi everybody! This is Ryan and today I’m taking over the blog with Part 5 of the Backyard DIY series Ashley and I started last Spring. Today I’m outlining how we built our backyard patio and foot path using stepping stones and gravel. This proved to be an easy way to transform our back yard and, one year later, we’re still in love with the space!

  1. If you haven’t already, get caught up with the Introduction from Part 1 (you don’t want to miss the before and afters).
  2. We built a wooden deck patio to compliment this paver patio – if you are deciding which is best, check it out!

How to build a Gravel and Paver Patio

I took the majority of these photos on my iPhone, but did not capture every step. (sorry!) If you end up with questions about a particular step, definitely comment below and I’ll do my best to help! 


The materials for this project are surprisingly basic. Aside from basic garage tools (shovels, wide sweeper broom, wheel barrow), you’ll just need the following:


Our Porch Furniture

I do not recommend pea gravel only as surface for a porch or any area seeing foot traffic. It has a tendency to move underfoot and may detract from your enjoyment that area over time. I used it for the surface of the flower bed, but on the porch and foot path used large stepping stones.


1. Design your Space

This is always the most important step. It’s easy to get an idea in your head and proceed right to the building, but taking a minute to sketch it out will help you visualize what you need to do even better. It will also bring things to your attention that you might have missed and help avoid expensive mistakes. You don’t have to be a great artist to do this as my little sketch illustrates below.

The second part of this is to use spray paint or chalk to mark where you will be digging. 

 Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs


2. Clear the Area of Debris

This will be different depending on the space that you’re renovating. For parts of our project I had to demolish a cement & brick flower bed and dig through some heavily rooted (nearby Oak) soil. For the side yard, I had carried out about 2 tons of large river rock the summer before and the area was overtaken by weeds. I sprayed them with weed killer the week before. Once everything was nice and brown it was just a matter of digging it all out.


Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs


3. Install Any Edging

Now is a great time to dig a trench along the areas where you want to install the edging. As you’re installing, be careful to make sure the lines keeps straight and that your edging remains level.


4. Dig to Depth

With your edging installed you need to dig to the right depth. If you are laying pea gravel and pavers, you will want to dig 2-3 inches deep. I chose to dig about 2 inches below the surface. Keep a tape measure with you through this process and make sure to check all sides of your area to ensure you’re depth is consistent.

*My project required me to move or cap off multiple sprinkler heads. If you have questions about that, feel free to leave them in the comments!


5. Resurface or Compact Soil

Now that you’ve reached the right depth, you’ll want to compact the soil using a hand tamper or, if you’re working on a large space, by renting plate compactor (you can easily rent on from Lowes or Home Depot). This is a really important step as it will provide extra surface stability for your large pavers and even keep your pea gravel from moving around as much. 

*Side note – Some people would recommend that you lay down a paver base or leveling sand before tamping down the soil. While I’m sure that can only help, I didn’t feel like it was a necessary step for my project. It has been installed over a year and I still stand by that. But it’s up to you!


6. Install Weed Mat

I opted for the cheapest yet still contractor grade weed mat I could find. The main thing is that do not want weeds growing through your rocks constantly, so don’t skip this step. 

If you are laying multiple strips down, make sure each line overlaps the previous one by about 12 inches. And use these landscape staple stakes — lots of them.

 Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs


7. Place the large Pavers

There are basically three parts to this step.

Ask a friend to help:  We installed 45 large 24×24 inch pavers weighing 70lb. each. If you’re working with anything remotely close to that size, think about having help. 

Laying the pavers in a straight line: Lay a chalk line if you have one, or you can simply tie any rope or line to 2-3 stakes. Stretch them along the path where you want the pavers and hammer them into the ground.

Spacing the pavers: For the side yard I used a scrap 2×4 laid flat to make sure the pavers were 4″ apart horizontally and 2″apart vertically. On the foot path we cut a 10″ long 2×4 and used that to space the stepping stones.


Laying a stepping stone and gravel path - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs


8. Lay Pea Gravel

With the heavy lifting of the pavers done, you’re almost home free. Transport and dump the gravel using a wheel barrow and use a shovel to spread it out at first, then switch to a floor sweeper and push the rocks where they need to be. Fill in between the pavers. Continue the process until you have filled your area without covering over the pavers. You may need to inspect the pavers and move gravel underneath them if they’re not level. Use your sweeper or a blower to clean off the dust that comes with the gravel. You’re done!


Installing a pea gravel flower bed - Ashley Brooke Designs
Beautiful Stepping Stone and Gravel Patio - Ashley Brooke Designs



Enjoy your new porch!

That’s it! Now you can really relax and enjoy your new backyard. 

Just for fun here are a few images of the yard after everything was completed! More before & afters are over here. Again, if you have questions, please ask!


Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs

Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs


Patio furniture from Joss & Main // 9′ Patio Umbrella from Pottery Barn // Pillows & Pots from Pottery Barn


Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs
Our backyard redesign with a stepping stone paver patio and porch - Ashley Brooke Designs



Follow Our Backyard DIY Series:

Part 1 ““ An Introduction (before & after pics included!)

Part 2 ““ How to hang String Lights

Part 3 ““ Backyard Entertaining (three best Summer cocktails!) 

Part 4 ““ How to Build a Cedar Wood Planter 

Part 5 ““ How We Installed the Pavers & Gravel

Part 6 – How to Build a Simple Wood Deck


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  1. That is such a nice paver patio you made. Love the detailed step-by-step process too you’ve written here on your blog. Looking forward to reading more transformations like this.

  2. You have shared a very useful piece of information. The knowledge that I have gathered through your blog is commendable. Keep sharing such blogs in the future too. Thanks!

  3. It looks really good! I am inspired. I was thinking about doing a similar project where we currently have a large patio covered in pea gravel. It is not friendly on the feet so wanted to add something more comfortable that wouldn’t affect our lot coverage. Do you think the same process would work if we went with bluestone?

  4. Wow, it looks great!! Good for you guys for doing that all yourself! My husband are I are too lazy… we had a landscape architect design and put together our backyard. It was well worth the money, but now I want to add some pavers to the side of my home, so your post is just what I needed if I decide to do it myself!

  5. Did the color of the pea gravel change over time? i see in the picture where you first dumped it, it looks more yellow but in your finished product pictures its more neutral/white. I just completed a similar project and the stones look very yellow 🙁 I am hoping it is dirt that will wash off.

  6. Your project looks amazing!
    I plan to do mine this summer. I have heard that paver base and leveling sand will help with stability and drainage. Since you didn’t use them, do you have any drainage problem at all?

  7. Hello Ashley !!

    This is brilliant. Thank you for posting.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to proceed if one wanted say Irish moss planted between the pavers around or after step 7 ?

    Many thanks

  8. Hi everyone,

    I love this blog and I love the way you transformed this small side space. I live in Marin County in CA and a lot of people have these small skinny backyard side zones and don’t know what to do with it. My good friend ended up putting in a putting green on the side with some seating and they use it all the time.

    I saw Kevin’s post and question about the grade and level of the ground. You really have to be careful and make sure that water can drain away from the house because I had a project one time that ended up going moving the water toward the house and it cause a major problem for the home owners because they didn’t want to invest putting in more soil or sand to have the grade move away from the house. It’s not a large investment and worth it and way better than having to destroy the project and start over. Trust me as I have had to do that before. Just be careful.

    Great article and good luck to all you DIY’ers:)


  9. Love this blog! and the way you wrote about this project. Thank you for sharing and especially for sharing the pictures as that helps bring it more into focus!

  10. This is an explosive idea; this is most probably the best and most successful thing about building backyard paver patio. I love this blog and really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Hi Ashley

    I love your designit is beautiful. Pls send me other ideas I wish to do my backyard. It is miserable.

  12. I tried reading the comments to see if this question had been asked, but could not tell. Where did you get your pretty terracotta pots that have that old feel

  13. Hi Gerardo,
    Have experienced and weeds growing up through your pathway pavers?
    A few years ago, I constructed a pathway similar to your and I now have weeds popping up.
    Like you, I laid out the weed barrier and covered it decorator stone (about 1/2 inch in size) to a depth of 1/2 inch.
    What do you think caused the weeds to appear>

  14. Hi Dee – your project sounds amazing! That’s so interesting about the color of your pavers. Without seeing them it’s hard to know, but mine were definitely white/light and I believe titled as such where I bought them. I would call the place you bought them from and ask a few questions if it’s a big concern.

  15. Beautiful! I love all of it! We are doing this exact project off our patio for our smoker/BBQ pit and adding a few extra pavers to continue as a walkway around the side of the house. We just picked up our 24×24 inch pavers last night and they are looking very gray with a blue-ish undertone, which is concerning now that I seen them in my yard. Hoping once we add the river rock it’ll all tone down and come together. What color are the pavers you purchased? Thanks in advance!

      • Thanks for the reply. Also, I can’t for the life of me find white river rock gravel in Los Angeles County. Do you think I can recreate it some how by mixing similar blends of smooth pebbles?

  16. My wife and I are on step 5. I am having trouble compacting the soil with a hand tamper because it’s dry and sandy (we live on the Space Coast of FL). I’m also unsure how to properly level the surface. Any tips? I was thinking of following the same steps someone would use with leveling sand (using conduit and 2×4). The area is about 14′ x 24′.

    I’m also curious if you have any concerns with bugs since the area isn’t screened in. Like I said, we’re right around the corner from you and deal with the gnats and lovebugs as the sun goes down. It doesn’t help that we have an artificial lake behind our house either. Appreciate any tips!

    • Hi Kevin – thanks for the comment and extra info! Sounds like you are well on your way, but I hear where you’re coming from. I’ll start with the easy one for me – bugs. We don’t have too much of an issue. Occasionally mosquitos become a problem, but our neighborhood sprays for them so it’s not too bad. We do often put a citronella candle out when we have dinner on the patio. Also, perhaps consider planting citronella plants nearby – it’s something we’ve just started looking in to. And, thankfully, we don’t have gnats this far inland!

      Regarding leveling of the soil, I would rent a plate compactor for the area you described. I actually used one for the large area (but found the hand tamper easier to work with for the other sections). My area isn’t perfectly level, and I can live with it. But if you can swing adding leveling sand, that’s probably the only thing I would do different if I did it over again.

      I don’t know if this is all that helpful of a response, but let me know how it goes and if I can answer any other questions along the way.

      • Thank you for the quick reply! Very helpful. I think I’ll go with the compactor and just do my best with the leveling. The 20×20 pavers we’re looking at are 56 pounds each so I’m not too worried about movement. On another note, I’m building a raised garden box for my wife (similar to what’s in your photos above). She’d like it to be somewhere around 32″ high. Instead of filling the box with a huge amount of soil, I thought adding a shelf in the middle. What would be your recommendation for how much room she would need to grow flowers? I was thinking 12″.

        • Hi Kevin -glad that was helpful! Yes, I would recommend a middle shelf for the planter. No need to fill that thing whole thing with dirt! Added a middle shelf at 18″ but I had no particular rationale for that number. 12″ is probably just fine for flowers.

  17. We are about to tackle a pavered path around the house like you did next week. What is the width of your path? Is it a comfortable width to walk along as time has passed?

    • Hi Samantha,
      For the path along the garage (single file), those pavers are 18×18 and spaced 10 inches apart. They are pretty comfortable to walk on, though I might space them 8″ if I did it over again. Width wide, with a few buffer inches of pea gravel on each side, it’s plenty of walking space.
      Hope that helps!

  18. Hi Ashley,
    My husband and I are planning on doing this project. We do see that the area we’re doing has sprinkler heads. How did y’all handle the moving and capping off the sprinklers? We are brand new at home DIY renovations! Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Julie,
      This is Ryan – Thank you for the comment and question. I’m excited you’re renovating your space! They has paid for itself many times over and we would do it again in a heartbeat. As for sprinklers, I actually attached flexible sprinkler line and capped them off just above the surface. With the flexible line I don’t have to worry about them snapping. And because I didn’t burry them I can easily access them for things like drip lines when I need them. They are barely noticeable.

      Here are a couple of images.
      Sprinker Beside Ashley Brooke's DIY Paver Patio
      Sprinked Beside Ashley Brooke's DIY Paver Patio

    • Hi Chelsea, all in it took a day and a half (say 15 work hours total) for two people. That doesn’t include all the preliminary researching and planning though ; )

  19. Followed your advice on stringing my backyard lights, and they turned out awesome. I found what was called clothesline wire at Lowe’s, and it worked really well if you don’t mind that it is green. It was about $10 for a 100 foot roll and I used needle nose pliers to twist it around itself at the eye hooks. Worked like a charm! Thank you for the tutorial!

  20. Thanks for the useful information. Before Driveways, paver installation needs a good base & also measure the thickness level of concrete pavers.

  21. how does the pea gravel stand up over time? Do you find it’s messy, i.e. does it stay in place with weather issues, (rain, snow)?
    What is your opinion of making the area smaller between the pavers – thinner rows of gravel? Thanks

    • Hi Paula, Thank you for the question. The Pea Gravel stands up well to the test of time. We live in Florida and experience a lot of rain, but not snow, so I can’t speak to that. It’s less functional than something more solid, but the large format pavers helped alleviate that issue. All that said, I have been amazed at how our friends’ children head straight for the gravel and love tossing it around. That is something to consider as it may not be ideal with small children. There is about 2″ between my pavers down the side of my house, and they could definitely be made closer if that’s your preference. Along our garage where we used 15″ pavers as a footpath. I believe there is 8″ between and I would move them closer if I did it again.

  22. Hello- beautiful patio. I am happy I found this page because my wife and I are going to a very similar patio project this spring. I have a couple of questions.

    1) We have similarly heavy 24×24 concrete pavers. Do you find that they move at all, since they aren’t set or bonded to anything? I wasn’t sure how to secure them in place.

    2) We are doing metal edging, but are having a hard time deciding which brand and metal to use. How did you decide on the aluminum edging? And looking back, would you still pick that same product? We are between your choice and Col-Met steel edging.

    3) Does it drain okay?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Daniel, Thank you for your comment.
      1. Ours move VERY little, which has been great. I went back and forth on the question to secure or not. If you do secure them, you will want to make sure your property is graded properly and alignment is very accurate. You could always secure them in place with some kind of shallow landscape edging that would then be covered over by the gravel. It all depends on your expertise as well.
      2. I would absolutely pick the same product. We’ve loved the metal edging. It has not rusted or moved at all. I simply find it by researching online. I just new I didn’t want anything plastic that would wear down over time. I looked at Col-Met after I read your comment, and I don’t think you can go wrong there either! If you use it, I would love to know how you like it!
      3. Yes, it drains great. I do have one section of my yard that slopes into a portion of the gravel area and it collects water briefly, but it’s more a function of the grade and not the gravel. The gravel is awesome in that respect.

      Hope this is helpful!

  23. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors
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  24. I’m using the string light segment for a backyard wedding. The bride wants tons of lights! Wish us luck.

  25. I love it! I am working on my back yard I want to redesign the whole thing ( large space) but my problem is I don’t know what to do with the excess dirt. before I bought the house the previous owners put in a pool leaving behind lots of extra dirt in the back. do you know or anyone what I can do with it

    • Hi Mahura, Regarding the dirt, I would check Homeadvisor.com to find someone in your area that does waste disposal. I had a giant pile of extra dirt after this project and I think it cost me $250 to have them come shovel it into their truck and haul it away. Well worth the price. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your back yard project!

  26. Hey there, what is the width between the concrete stones for the patio? I’m looking to do a similar thing to expand my current patio and not really sure yet what width looks good!

    • Hi Nicole, Great question! I laid a 2×4 flat to space in between the each paver in the three columns….So it’s closer to 4″. Spacing between columns is a bit narrower and I just turned the 2×4 on its side to get them 1.5-1.75″ apart.

  27. Where did you buy the pavers? We are looking to do something similar but don’t want to have to pour concrete for each square.

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