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I have a 5' x 20' alleyway whose only real purpose is to hold the trash bins and maybe a deckbox, so it sees little traffic. The problem is that in order to do it "right" I'll be spending around $600 on materials alone (4" of leveling sand, 2" of the compacting sand, and the pavers). I've thought about just making a 3' x 10' area, just for the trash bins, but if I could do the whole alley, I would.

Any tips on bringing down the cost on an area that's not going to be used as an everyday patio?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

No tips other than doing it properly.

Otherwise the pavers will be all wonky and wavy within 1-2 years in most cases.

You could try digging down the height of paver, compacting a little, putting pavers in and fill cracks with dirt and planting grass in the cracks. No guarantees from me on the result over time though. Chance of this working out would completely depend on your soil conditions and weather. I've done this with flagstone and it has worked well.

Also a geotextile fabric would help in keeping uniformity.

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I think the flagstone has the added benefit of being much larger and heavier, so less susceptible to heaving. However, over 5+ years, it will probably end up the same. But flagstone could be a better option. Thanks. –  Spencer K Apr 25 '13 at 3:08
    
just thought of geotextile fabric. that would likely help a lot –  decker Apr 26 '13 at 5:29
    
I'm just going to scale it back, do it right and sod the rest. Thanks for the input. –  Spencer K Apr 30 '13 at 16:59
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The drawbacks of not using a proper base is that, over time, the pavers will sink and become completely uneven.

If it's mainly a cost issue, I don't know if any real alternative that would be cheaper.

If you stick with your plan, I'd consider going with crushed rock for your compacted base (you can't really compact sand) and then put a 1" sand layer on top of that.

If it's a labor issue, they now make engineered paver base panels. I, alas, can't recall what they are called. Perhaps someone can chime in with more details on that.

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I'll do some investigating on the base panels. Thanks. –  Spencer K Apr 25 '13 at 3:09
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