Is there any better way to spend a summer evening than relaxing on your own patio, perhaps with a meal cooked on the grill and a home-crafted cocktail with friends? Or a better space to enjoy a Saturday morning cup of coffee than your own patio? No. The answer is definitively no.
If you don’t have an outdoor space at home just yet, you’re likely only a few weekends away from the perfect place to gather with your loved ones all season long. A stone patio is a welcoming feature, adds value to your home, and easily defines your yard with minimal to no ongoing maintenance.
Building your own patio means you can customize your backyard and make it truly yours—and with the right planning and equipment, it can be a charming addition to your home.
Planning Your Patio
A DIY stone or brick patio project isn’t that technically difficult, but it can take a bit of planning and elbow grease to make it happen. It’s a good idea to reserve a versatile mini-skid loader to move dirt, gravel, stone, and brick around your yard, expedite the process, and leave the lifting to heavy machinery. Most heavy trucks won’t even be able to drive on your driveway, so a skid loader is a great solution to transporting heavy stone and gravel across your yard without damaging your lawn or breaking too much of a sweat.
The price of a patio can vary based on the size of the patio you want, the price of stone, and the kinds of materials you choose for your project.
Choosing Your Stone
The kind of stone or brick you select for your patio can drastically alter the aesthetic and mood of your patio. And it’s important that your patio is always in a good mood. Stone varies greatly in color and texture, and it’s a good idea to visit with a few local stone suppliers in your area to see what options are available and get an estimate for what it might cost.
It’s wise to choose a relatively flat stone that’s between 2 and 4 inches thick. In most cases, stone is sold by the ton. This means that for your patio, a thinner stone like flagstone will be a more economical way to build your patio. How much stone should you order for your project? You’ll want to calculate the square footage for your patio, then add an extra 15 percent to allow for more selection when you need the right shape—especially if you choose an irregular-shaped stone.
Clay pavers are the most economical option for paving your patio, and they come in a wide array of sizes and colors. Traditional clay pavers come in a traditional brick color and cost a bit more, but you can usually find a good selection of concrete pavers at most home centers and landscape retail companies. If you plan on constructing an irregular-shaped patio, you’ll want to order an additional 15 percent to cut your stone and build out the perfect shape for your backyard.
Scoping Out Your Site
Anytime you make alterations to your home or yard, it’s a good idea to have a clear plan in place first, and take all necessary precautions to ensure a stellar finished project. A few considerations before you begin:
- Have you selected a shady spot, or are you planning to landscape your new patio to allow for some shade? Trust us, you won’t want to spend an entire afternoon on your patio if the Georgia sun is relentlessly beating down on you and your guests.
- Is there good drainage in the spot you’ve chosen? Low-lying or marshy areas will result in a patio that’s too wet to enjoy most of the season.
- Is your new patio location sloped? A little slope—about ¼ inch per foot—is okay and allows for drainage, but anything more and you’ll have a hard time leveling your patio.
- Are you too close to a tree? Digging into roots could damage your tree, and makes for a lot of hard, avoidable work.
- Are there any utility lines under your patio? Call a utility company to come out and mark all of your lines before you begin digging, or you could end up cutting into a buried line. This could cause an inconvenience or even pose a threat of danger. You won’t get any superpowers from it. Trust us.
Next, you’ll want to accumulate all the materials and tools you’ll need for your project, which include:
- A mini skid loader (you may also want a wheelbarrow)
- Stakes and string (to outline the shape of your patio) or a garden hose and spray paint
- A spade and/or trowel
- Landscape fabric
- Gravel (enough for a 4 to 10 inch-thick layer)
- A V-plate tamp (vibratory plate tamp)
- A circular saw
- Builder’s or coarse-washed sand to form a 1-inch thick layer and also fill in any cracks
- Flagstones, bricks, or pavers
- A stiff push broom
It may also be helpful to have other tools on hand like a garden rake, and basic safety gear like durable work gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection.
Putting It All Together
The first step to crafting your patio is outlining it. You can either use stakes and string to mark out the space or outline your new patio shape with a garden hose, then trace the shape with spray paint.
Using a sharp shovel, you’ll want to remove the sod and soil for your patio location. To keep your patio flush with the rest of your yard, you’ll have to remove an even layer of 10 inches of soil. Clear the area of all excess soil and sod using your skid loader. Use a vibratory plate tamp to compact the soil and set up a secure foundation for your patio.
Next, line your excavated area with landscape fabric, cutting it to fit the patio shape and size to prevent weeds from growing up from between patio stones.
After you’ve laid out your landscape fabric, layer in a level 4-inch base of gravel with a garden rake, compacting it with your vibratory plate tamp, then top it with a 1-inch layer of builder’s sand, using your tamp to create a smooth, level surface.
Next, it’s time to lay your stones. Starting on one side of the patio, lay out your first flagstone, placing all following stones as close together as possible. For irregular shapes, you can cut paving slabs with a circular saw to cut your patio to your exact specifications—just remember to use a diamond saw blade that’s meant for masonry or stone.
Finally, you can finish off your patio by filling in the gaps with either builder’s sand or coarse-washed sand. Using a stiff broom, sweep the sand over the bricks until all the gaps are filled. You can then water the surface of your patio with a fine mist from your hose to encourage the sand to sink in and fill any gaps between the stones or pavers.
For about a week, you’ll want to repeat the process of adding sand, sweeping, and watering your patio to ensure a lasting, durable finish.
Always Have the Tools You Need On Hand
At Northside Tool Rental, we’re here to help you build the backyard you’ve always wanted. With all the tools you could possibly need to create a patio and tackle all your at-home projects, you can start crossing these tasks off your to-do list one by one.
Don’t waste another dollar buying a tool you’ll only use once. Rent it for a weekend project at only a fraction of the cost. Contact us today to learn more!