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Making Pretty Spaces


Planning An Outdoor Patio



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Today I’m sharing my plans for our new outdoor patio! It might seem like this came out of nowhere but in truth, I have been dreaming about a big outdoor space for our family since the day we moved into this house over 5 years ago.

We don’t have too many days out of the year to enjoy the outdoors so when we do have nice weather here in Wisconsin, I want us to be soaking up every minute of it. I have been planning, researching and brainstorming different ideas for years and when I brought this plan up to my husband a couple of weeks ago (yes, just a couple of weeks ago), it just felt like the right timing.

The Plan

There were a few things on my wish list, but the #1 goal was having a space for our kids to play and get them outside. Sidewalk chalk, skip hop, a place to paint, basketball, a dining area, a firepit for smores… a patio has the ability to create a place for so many things a young family can enjoy.

Here’s what this space looked like 5 days ago!

This space has never been used in any capacity other than an entrance to our garage, a clutter collector, and one more area of landscaping to try to keep up with.

The first step was to remove the current landscaping. This is something that could easily be DIY. This year was the first year we have hired landscapers to take care of our yard and both Chris and I are so relieved. What would have taken us all day or even a weekend – took them a couple of hours!

So much better already!

The next step was coming up with a basic plan so I could get an accurate quote. I originally marked this out MUCH smaller – but as I started laying out furniture on paper and mapping out different “zones”, we ran out of space quickly. Chris and I discussed it and we decided we wouldn’t regret going too big… but would most definitely regret going too small.

My biggest piece of advice when planning out any permanent space or purchase… DRAW IT OUT! Yes, I might be yelling at you. Without drawing things out, you just simply can’t see the big picture.

I researched cost quite a bit and we knew we wanted basic concrete for this space for both cost and function. The quote I received was right in line with what I researched.

I had a lot of requests for how I decided on the shape. As you can see above, it is not square. I wanted this to be an extension of our landscaping and not a slab of concrete in our back yard. We clearly didn’t have the room for a proper 1/2 court, but laying out the dimensions of a basketball court let me come up with both the size and layout to give this space an organic, yet functional space.

I took my initial measurements and a can of spray paint (with my assistant) and marked up my backyard until it “felt” right. Then I went back and drew it to scale.

I’m going to admit that this project is a good example of things going over budget. The square footage that we decided on is almost twice what was in my head originally. However, the smaller footprint would have come with regrets. After a quick discussion, the extra space and cost was something we knew was necessary to make this space what we wanted it to be.

The Cost

Here is where we are in terms of cost for everyone asking although I will post a final breakdown once the project is done:

Concrete: $6,200 (1,088 sq ft at $5.75 per)
Landcape Removal: $45/hour = $240
Basketball Hoop: $649

Concrete Cost: this was an all-in quote including excavation, leveling, pouring, finishing, labor and all materials. Can you save money by doing this yourself? Absolutely! This is the first big job that I have hired out since living in this house but in my opinion – absolutely worth it.

That being said – I did a little research on the cost of a DIY slab. On the low end, you can accomplish a simple patio for $2/sq ft. You could also save money by doing the prep yourself. A lot of contractors would be happy to show up and just provide the concrete work without the prep work. This should save you around 20-30% of the overall cost.

For everyone wanting some tips on doing it themselves… I am asking lots of questions and taking lots of notes. I will post more details as we get through this process and plan on sharing information to help you if you are planning your own concrete project – either hiring someone or DIY style.

Here is where we are at at the end of Day 2… as I’m wrapping up this post. I can already envision the family fun that will be had out here this summer!

Would you take on a project this big or would you leave it to the professionals? Let me know in the comments!

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Hi, I'm Nora

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