Your visions of the perfect outdoor patio may resemble the setting of your favorite botanical garden or perhaps a neighbor’s beautifully manicured backyard. Yet, what you see is only surface-level deep. Achieving a long-lasting and stunning patio begins with a well-built foundation. The good news is that anyone can do this; you just need to know a few secrets the pros use for building a perfect patio.
Seven secrets for building a perfect patio:
- Add knee pads and gloves to the equipment list. You’ll be spending a lot of time on the ground, so protecting your knees and having comfortable yet sturdy pants are extremely important. Also, you’ll be handling tools, gravel, and bricks, so make sure you have a good pair of leather work gloves ready to go. If you are cutting stones or bricks, make sure you wear quality eye protection.
- Consider drainage needs. Most people think your patio should be perfectly level, but that’s not exactly true. You do want the surface to be flat, but building in a very slight slope will help drain water off of it. The incline should be away from your home, large trees, or other structures near the patio. A good slope is about 1 inch for every 10 feet of distance. You can plan for this slope by using a string attached to wooden stakes along the site’s perimeter.
- Be prepared to remove 10 inches of dirt. Many weekend DIYers only dig out a couple of inches, tamp down a shallow layer of gravel, and cover it with sand. These foundations won’t last very long. A stable foundation will require about 6 inches of crushed stone tamped down well every 2 inches. After applying an inch of sand to the top, you’ll have another three inches for the height of your brick or stone. Plan ahead to determine where you’ll place all the dug-out dirt—perhaps it’s an excellent time to build an above-ground planting bed!
- Use a gas-powered plate compactor or “tamper.” Don’t try to compact all the gravel with a hand-held metal sand tamper because you won’t get the stone packed well enough. Rent the equipment you need for the job to make sure the layer of gravel is very firm. If your ground is soft or soggy, you may need to add extra stone.
- Level the surface sand. Use 1” iron screed pipes temporarily laying on the final tamped gravel layer to create a smooth surface for the layer of sand. Place a couple of pipes perpendicular to each other, fill the area with sand, and then use a 2×4 that is longer than the distance between the pipes as a scraper to smooth the surface (called “screeding.”) When you remove the pipes, fill in those gaps and smooth the surface with a trowel.
- Don’t eyeball the alignment. Use chalk lines on the surface of the sand to help keep your bricks and stones lined up accurately.
- Tamp, Tamp, Tamp. Use that rented plate compactor to tamp down the bricks or stone, and then cover with a thick layer of sand. Use a broom to get the sand down into the cracks. Then tamp the bricks or stones again. Repeat this process until all the joints are well filled.
Ready to start planning your next hardscape project?
Whether you’re looking for the broadest selection of hardscape materials perfect for our local area, or you need help figuring out where to start with your dream project, Hilton Landscape Supply is the place to go. We’ve been serving Southern Oregon and Northern California since 1956, so we know the best materials to bring your projects to life. Our team members will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take, help you select the best materials for the project, and arrange to have them delivered right to your property. Don’t let another season pass you by. Visit us in Central Point, and let’s get started on your project today!