Okay, you guys know how long I’ve been talking about creating a back patio area at the house.  I’ve been dreaming about a gorgeous backyard living space for years, envisioning different materials, costing out any potential labor expenses, etc.  After pouring over gorgeous websites, drooling over beautiful magazines, and putting pen to paper, I had a great idea in my head of exactly what I wanted – a good-sized space about 25 x 15 feet, table with umbrella that seated six, and a separate seating area that could hold two sofas, four chairs and a firepit.   The average ever-so-helpful home improvement calculator will tell you that a space with that description will (no lie) cost you on average about $7500.  Read on to see how we did it for $600!

First, the patio itself – Just outside our back door there’s a perfect patch of ground that we knew would do the trick.  If you’re thinking about a similar Project, seek out the flattest ground you can find that’s close to the house.  The area is ideal but it still needed some levelling – Victor and I (mostly Victor) took shovels to the elevated area and hacked away at it until it was leveled out, then hauled away wheelbarrows full of dirt to another part of the yard.  Did I mention it hit 94 degrees that day?  Yeah, enjoy the visual.

Once we had the area leveled out, we edged the borders with pressure-treated 4×4’s from our local Home Improvement Center and screwed them together for stability, then stained them to protect them even further from the elements.  Total cost: $180.

Then we lined the inside area with landscape fabric and left it alone for a few days to kill off all of the grass and weeds inside.   Cost: $20.  Next, we called a local mulch provider and compared prices for various fills.  We settled on a gorgeous pine bark to fill the inside area.  We were looking for a layer about 2-3 inches deep.  Each “yard” of mulch you buy will cover an area 300 square feet by one inch deep, so we bought three yards for a total of $180.

Last but not least, the furniture!  I salivated over various catalogs that offered my dream furniture combos for about $2500, then promptly hit Craigslist and pieced together similar lovely combos for $200.  Throw in a rental truck for $50 (I just love driving those things), and before you know it – we’ve got ourselves a dream patio, for a fraction of retail.  If I can do it, you can do it!  Of course, with my stellar timing, I find myself with a completed patio just as we say adios to summer, but we’ve got October celebrations galore amongst friends and family – with any luck, we’ll put it to fabulous use several times over before the weather gets chilly.  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com.
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at