It took us 2 weeks and several days of HARD labor (along with some cursing, a few icy beers, and quite a bit of swearing we'd NEVER do it again) but we finally finished our patio project on Friday, just in time to enjoy looking at it through the window as it proceeded to rain all weekend.
First, we shoveled. Tons of dirt (and rocks as we live in a very rocky area) were shoveled into a wheelbarrow and dumped in the woods. We discovered arm and back muscles we didn't know we had.
Then, more shoveling. This time gravel and gravel dust. And then sand. And then we leveled. We had to call 2 more Pauls in for reinforcements.
Finally, we started laying pavers. More than 160, at about 30 lbs. each. Fortunately, I'd been training for this by lifting a 30 lb. toddler many times a day so this part was a breeze.
Then we put up our gazebo, moved in the furniture, and we were done!!
We're so happy with how this project turned out. It was a ton of work (more like several tons really) but we saved ourselves several thousand dollars by doing it ourselves and it came out just how we wanted.
Now, if the weather will cooperate we're looking forward to spending the rest of the summer enjoying the fruits of our labor, frosty cold drinks in one hand, slow smoked baby back ribs in the other!