Teresa & I have begun work on the area where the 24' above ground pool used to be. We are going to use patio paver stones to build a patio for table/chairs, a swing chair, and grill. I used my Massey's FEL to drag the sand back into piles so I could spread the pea gravel to form the base. I had a large roll of poly shade cloth to use instead of landscape fabric to help hold the layer of sand that goes on top, which the pavers are set onto. Gonna take quite a while, but we have to start somewhere. Not even picked out the pavers yet, but wanted to get this thing started. I think we'll go with a smaller patio block area, with the remaining perimeter in just river rock, or something similar to make things a bit more affordable on our extremely tight budget.
You can see our small beginnings. As I shovel sand I can remove the blocks holding the cloth down. 1 to 2" of sand is needed for the stone base. The slope to the right is where it will definitely be either river rock, or crushed brick, depending on cost & availability locally.
This is where I tried blowing myself up by digging up my propane line with my FEL. Soon as weather warms I will just shut off the propane, do my digging in this area, then lay a new propane line deeper than the 2 to 3" that my gas company put in. They will replace the line, but I'll have the ditch dug beforehand.