Building a shed (Part 1)

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We have now been in our new house for approximately 6 months. One of the larger house projects we knew we’d have up front is adding a shed to our property for storing our lawnmower and other yard tools. After quite a bit of procrastinating and research, we finally settled on a “big enough” shed, for a price we were happy with. We chose a roughly 4′ x 6′ shed.

Choosing the location

I originally imagined a much larger walk-in shed, placed back near the small patch of woods in the corner of our quaint lot. However, after seeing the price tag on larger sheds and realizing a smaller shed would suffice, Nicole and i decided to put the shed in a more convenient location – immediately against the house. Taking into account the possible locations of a back yard fence, and other future considerations, I decided on the location for the shed.

Phase 1 – Building a pad

I took to YouTube to educate myself on building a paver pad for our shed. After I had enough confidence, I headed to Lowe’s with a Christmas giftcard to purchase some gravel and sand. We already had the concrete pavers and the shed in the garage from a previous visit. One of my concerns for the base was, which type of gravel would be ok for this. I opted for pea gravel which really is intended for walkways, not paver base. I did this mainly for cost as they were considerably cheaper. I’m sure professionals everywhere are shaking their head at me.

Step one – removing the sod layer

I gathered my tools, and as always my Bluetooth speaker, made some measurements, and got to work. This was hard work. It was much harder than I expected. I used our flat edge shovel to dig out squares of sod. I transplanted the sod to a bare spot at the edge of the yard in an attempt to recycle this usable grass. We’ll see if it survives!

It was tricky to guess how deep to go. I had a rough calculation for the depth of gravel and sand I would be using, so that helped a little. Getting this area more or less level was also tricky as the ground already has quite a slope, coming off the side of the garage.

With the dirt removed, the next step was adding the first layer of gravel.

Step two – adding gravel

I lucked out at Lowe’s in that when I was about to check out, there were a few 1/2 price bags of pea gravel that were opened bags, but still mostly full. I took back some of my full bags and grabbed these instead. Saved a bit of money and took home a little less gravel than I planned.

Adding the gravel was fairly straight forward. I poured it in and distrubuted it somewhat evenly. I used scrap wood to smooth it out. I then spent a lot of time moving the gravel around to get it level. This is where my sod digging came back to bite me. In hindsight, I should have dug the dirt out a bit more level. To have the gravel layer level, it required a super thin layer near the garage, and a super thick layer near the front of the pad.

Once this step was finished, I was done for the day. I covered the project up with a tarp. I didn’t get back to this for several weeks due to having a lot of rain, then our family getting Covid (yeah, that’s another story)

Step Three – Adding sand and pavers

The final step in building the pad was a bit more strenuous. It was the last chance to get things level and where I would find out if my substrate materials and application were sufficient.

I had 2 bags of paver sand and was surprised by the consistency once I opened the bags. I expected it to be more like, well, sand. It was much more course – more like slightly damp concrete mix. I started by taking one bag and lightly sprinkling sand on top of the pea gravel, over approximately 1/4 of the pad. I then leveled out the sand with one of my boards the best I could. I placed the level on top of the board along the way to make sure it was “level enough”. As I did with the gravel layer, I had to fill the side farthest from the house much deeper then directly next to the garage to make up for my poorly leveled hole.

Block by block, I added sand, leveled out, placed the block, hammered it down with my mallet. As I said, this part was a lot more strenuous as I was on my hands and knees a lot and had to do a lot of adjustments for each block to get it level with the others, and to make sure the entire pad continued to be altogether level.

Once all the blocks were down, I filled in around the edges with the remaining sand and packed it tight with my foot to hold everything in place.

All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out – especially being the first time I have done this sort of project. I would have liked it to be slightly more level (as a whole) and some of the pavers have some small spaces between. These will not show once the shed is on top of it. Also, it has held up quite well through many days of rain so I think it is solid. The border of paver sand has stayed well in place, so that’s good! I’m also happy to report that the sod I transplanted survived the move – also good!

Stay tuned for Phase 2 – building the shed!

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