In a weekend, a pergola and patio is born. With our custom-built shed finished, we turned our attention to the empty space between the shed and garage.


Kurtis levels the ground

Kurtis levels the ground between the two buildings where we’ll build the pergola and lay a patio of crushed rock.


Digging post holes

Step one: digging four postholes. (Okay, step one is really measuring and marking the spots where you want the posts and making sure it’s all going to be square—but that’s boring and I didn’t have a picture.) Narvas uses an auger to get the job done quickly.


Installing a post for the pergola

Andrew and Narvas place a 12-foot treated post into the 2-foot posthole. Since our pergola is covering a pretty large area, we opted for more substantial 6×6-inch posts.

It also helps to have posts that are longer than you’ll need so you can size height accordingly.


Delivering the concrete

Quikrete concrete mix sets up fast so we’ll use that to set the posts and let it cure for at least 24 hours.


Filling the post hole

Pour the dry mix directly into the posthole and use a sturdy stick to tamp it down. At intervals, use a hose to wet the mix and stir it a bit with the stick. Fill the hole completely.


Checking levels on the pergola posts

As you fill the posthole, check that the post is level in both directions.


Pergola posts braced

Tap stakes into the ground, double check levels, and attach to the posts in both directions with screws. They’ll keep the post level as the mortar mix cures. The guys made stakes from leftover 2×4-inch studs they cut to size and trimmed to a point on one end with the saw. Waste not, want not.


Hannah and Drew unload rock from the back of the pickup

While the posts cured, we picked up four loads of crushed limestone from our favorite garden center. Drew unloads the rock and Hannah delivers it to the patio area. Hannah shows her brother a little appreciation for the free labor.


(Hey! He got food out of the deal! – Hannah)


Spreading rock on landscape fabric

We spread landscape fabric over the ground where we want to place the rock.

This will help keep weeds in check and provide a base for a thick layer of crushed limestone. Treated landscape timbers provide an edge on the side of the patio opposite the fence.


Rye the dog checks out the patio

Rye tries out the new groundcover. In the end, we had about 3 inches of rock on the area between buildings and we extended it around the side and rear of the shed. It will harden almost to the consistency of cement, making it a great surface for walking and placing furniture.

The total cost for a 12-foot by 24-foot patio was $80: $60 for 4 loads of crushed limestone, $10 for 2 rolls of landscape fabric, $10 for landscape timbers. Lots of sweat equity, too, of course. That was a hot, muggy day!


Top rails on pergola

Two 16-foot 2×6-inch beams sandwich a pair of posts on the front and back of the pergola-to-be. Ten-inch-long bolts drilled through beams and posts hold them together.

The posts will be cut down to size once the beams are in place. The finished height of the pergola will be 7½-feet from the ground to the bottom of the beams.


Placing the next level of pergola slats

Kurtis and Hannah space out the nine 10-foot 2×4 treated rafters atop the beams, placing them inside double 90-degree brackets.


Screwing beams in place on the pergola

Then, they screw the brackets to the beams and the rafters to the brackets.


Staining the pergola

A final layer of split 16-foot 2×4 battens finishes the top of the pergola. They’re attached with wood screws through the top to the rafters beneath. Narvas climbs on top the pergola to give it a coat of charcoal stain to match the deck on the house.


Running the electrical line

To get electricity to the shed, Narvas pulls electrical wire tied in to power through the garage. Kurtis meanwhile digs a trench from the garage to the shed and runs the electrical wire through PVC conduit pipe, which can be safely buried.


Finishing the electrical piping connection

PVC elbows on the end of the trench conduit and the short pipe to the hole in the building finish both ends at shed and garage. The electrical line will support an inside outlet, interior lighting, an exterior outlet and exterior lighting.


Finished shed façade

Stained and strung with bistro lights and hanging baskets, the pergola and the furnished patio are ready for their close-up.

In our next post, you’ll see how we added the vintage light fixture, made shutters and a flip-top table, and get the final look at the border, patio and shed exterior.

Products used:


Thanks to our project sponsors, Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores and Olympic/PPG, for making this series possible!


© Caruth Studio

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