Thanks for returning to read part two of our patio project!

At this point we must have taken all of our needs into consideration. More likely than not, however, you now are a lot more perplexed.

Let’s assume the following example scenario:


  • Host dinner parties(6-10 people) about once a month

    • You will likely need a designated dining space no smaller than 96 SF

  • Roast marshmallows with the kids through the fall

    • The standard firepit area starts at approximately 113 SF (12’ diameter circle)

  • Grill 2-3 nights a week when it’s nice out

    • Close proximity to the house(not too close) is very important since you’re a grillin’ fool and want to sneak outside in the middle of February to grill that rib-eye.

  • Escape the noise inside the house after a long work day

    • A seating space placed a decent distance from the rear of the house accompanied by a decent amount of lush landscape will help to make your space feel more intimate.


  • It is shady & damp in the back yard since you back up to the woods

    • This makes for a challenge no matter which product you use since moisture & organic materials that are naturally present outside are a breeding ground to a host of molds and mildew. Tree work(to increase sun exposure) as well as certain spray on solutions will be your best advocate here.

  • The biggest door in the house is the slider from the walkout basement(right where the patio goes)

    • If there is ever a likelihood that you will need to bring something very heavy through these doors, you want to upgrade the base material in your patio be it pavers, flagstone, or concrete. The best options to handle heavy loads will be natural stones set in cement or concrete poured at least 6”.

  • The mowing service usually does not follow your instructions to hand mow the back yard where it can get muddy

    • Regardless of your patio type, you will want to put a buffer of landscaping beds with river stones around it in order to discourage the mowing service from tearing through and damaging or muddying your new investment.

  • You fancy yourself a handy person, but in truth - you work very hard during the day and usually don’t get to all of the chores around the house as it is… If this is not you WAY TO GO! You’re better than I am.

    • The options that you have for materials on the patio & their maintenance is as follows:

    • Concrete(Brushed or Exposed Aggregate) requires a sealer every 3-4 years ONLY if you like to have the more decorative look from the sealer, or you are trying to use a product to prevent mold/mildew growth

    • Concrete(Stamped/Decorative) requires a sealer every 3 years in order to preserve your finish INDEFINITELY… You need to do this more frequently if you like to get aggressive with the power washer **NOTE: Do not put the head closer than 6” to the surface… I don’t want you to find out why.

    • Concrete Pavers. Consider the same maintenance for the previous two, and add the need to replace your polymeric sand every 3-5 years(again, dependent on your power washing prowess). Please note that shady location like yours in this case will promote lots of mold/moss/mildew growth in between the sandy joints.

    • Natural Stone(dry setting). This is identical for maintenance to the concrete pavers. However, the flagstone holds up to power washing MUCH BETTER.

    • Natural Flagstone(in cement). This application draws similar maintenance benefits as concrete. Because this is set on a slab with cement in between the joints - you will not need to re-do the joints but every 8-12 years. Also, moss is not as prevalent in this type of joint as the interlocking sand joint.


  • You have concrete pavers for the front walkway already, and would like to use them again in the back yard to stay consistent.

    • Although this is a very viable option, it is not absolutely necessary to use the same materials all over your property. This one falls under the rule of “Out of Context” for me. You can put whatever your heart desires on this patio. Just remember your maintenance guidelines when choosing in this shady spot!

  • You like all of the pictures of the entire outdoor living space that you have seen on Pinterest, Facebook, Houzz, and Instagram. It includes a full kitchen, fireplace, fountain, pool, and various living spaces.

    • Listen - we all want this in our back yard. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to bring a lot of these projects to completion, but not everyone needs to have the whole kit. Most full outdoor living projects which I am involved end up having a final ticket price ranging from $150,000 to $900,000 depending on the scale and quality of materials. Plan out what you need now, work with a professional designer, and build your dream space over time. Good contractors will install work which will still look great in 5-15 years so that when it is all finished you’ll still love it!

  • You have heard that decorative concrete products are likely to crack and cannot be repaired when they do. You want to stay away from this at all costs!

    • This is a misnomer about the concrete. There are some challenges with concrete installations, but they are all very minor - and with the right professional they can be mitigated. Follow your maintenance plan with this, and choose a high quality installer. You’ll save a great deal of money if you want to save some of your hard earned money for some of the more complex features. Also, if you can afford a fancier patio as well - more power to you!

Based off of these questions I will suggest the following to my client:

Patio Size 784 SF:

100 SF dining space

140 SF firepit space

64 SF grilling area

144 SF sitting area

336 SF pathing space(you need a buffer between spaces of 3-4’ for comfort of walking & pulling furniture out)


We can dive into this stuff in more detail at another time, but each of these also has many considerations.

Seat Walls(passive seating)



Grill surround


With a shady area, paver joints can be a nightmare to keep clean of moss (I personally love this look, most homeowners do not!) Maintenance can be a hassle too. Also, both of the cement applications will allow for heavy things to be transported in and out of the house safer.

Wet-laid Natural Stone($40-55k budget range depending on access and other circumstances NOT INCLUDING features)


Concrete Installation($20-26k budget range depending on access and other circumstances NOT INCLUDING features)

You’ve now got a realistic expectation for what the scope of your project is, which materials you may want to consider, and how much you will need to invest. Stay tuned to hear more about the options and their role in your project!


“I want a new patio.” ... Your first Interview

I get called to many clients’ homes to help them decipher what type of patio/walkway/hardscaping they want to replace their existing set-up with. Oftentimes I hear, “Oh! I saw a walkway that the neighbors just put in down the street. I really like that one.” OR “I read that this type of patio is going to fall apart in a few years”. No offense, but this generally goes in one ear and out the other for me. I love to hear that my customers are taking the time to educate themselves about what they want to do in their yards. However, I just want you to peer into the world of a landscape designer for a brief moment.

Today I would like to officially put in my two cents. Not all hardscaping installations are alike. Believe it or not, material isn’t even the only consideration. More likely than not, all of your neighbors are second hand educating each other on their outdoor living projects. Better yet they are all using different contractors! How confusing…

Personally, my first considerations when designing anything on a customers’ property is function. If it doesn’t fulfill its’ purpose; what’s the point?

Practical functions:

Where are you travelling to and from?

How often will you use this space?

What are you going to use the space for?

Who is the space for?

Does the use justify the cost?

Maintenance functions:

Is the location of the space wet? dry? sunny? shady?

Are you ever going to bring heavy things over it?

Do you use a maintenance service?(Mario Andretti on a Dixi Chopper can cause problems)

How consistent are you with maintenance?

Aesthetic functions:

Which other materials are used on site? Are they in context(nearby)?

Does the function warrant the aesthetic(a grand slate walkway to your garbage cans is stupid)?

How does it compare to neighboring properties? Do you give a crap?

Do you have strong preferences? What are they?

Feel free to read through my questions and answer them for yourselves. If you would like email me a summary of your project and the answers to my questions above. Later on I am going to debunk these things and get us into level two of demystifying our project. How do we build it? Which materials make sense? How big do I need it? How should it look?

Thanks for checking in!