When you want to install a patio in your yard, there are many types of materials you can choose from. You don't always have to use a concrete slab for your patio. You can use a decorative stone or brick to build your patio surface, building up the foundation properly to give your patio its long-lasting durability. Here are some tips to help you prepare and install a decorative stone or brick patio.
Prepare the Foundation
To make sure you patio remains in place and withstands the shifting of soil and freeze-thaw heaving that can occur during winter in northern climates, first install the base foundation of your patio with the right materials. It is recommended to excavate soil from the site to make sure you have enough depth into the soil to allow a layer of several inches of sand to sit below the layer of surface stones or bricks. For example, if you are going to lay down three inches of sand and your bricks or stones are four inches thick, you will need to remove seven inches of soil from the site to make sure the patio is level with the surrounding area.
Also, it is important to lay down a landscaping fabric onto the base of the soil before pouring in your sand or gravel. This layer of sand prevents weeds from growing from the ground up and into the patio's layers. Weeds can push up into and disrupt the layering of your patio's structure and damage it. Overlap the edges of the landscaping fabric onto one another by 12 inches to prevent weeds from growing through the gaps.
Install the Stones
After you have poured the sand onto the site, smooth it as level as possible. Next, begin to set the stones onto the sand, pressing them slightly into the sand to keep them set in place as you install the rest of the surrounding stones. It is important to keep the stones as stable as possible while installing them, because before they are wedged between one another, they may be able to shift slightly and make your patio pattern uneven. If any of the stones or bricks sit unevenly on the layer of sand, use a rubber mallet to nudge the higher-set stone down into the sand.
Once all the stones have been set into the site, fill the gaps around each of the stones with additional sand. Scoop the sand over the surface of the stones or bricks and use a push broom to spread the sand down into the spaces between the individual stones or bricks. Push the sand around until all the cracks and gaps have been filled and the stones are set snugly in their pattern.
Keep your new stone patio looking great by pulling any surface weeds that manage to germinate, or you can treat the cracks with weed killer as needed.