Making the decision to put in a stone patio is arguably one of the best landscaping moves an ambitious homeowner can make. Stone patios are functional as well as beautiful, and they can inject a burst of value to your property – sweat-equity style.
There’s a range of patio materials available in big box stores from here to kingdom come, but not much beats natural stone. Natural stone is easy to obtain, usually inexpensive, easy to care for, and very durable. If you’re the handy type, installing a natural stone patio is a snap – and, depending on the size – it’s a project you can knock out in as quickly as a weekend.
Installing Your Stone Patio: The First Steps
First on the to-do list: designing your natural stone patio. Using either graph paper and a pencil or a computer software program, calculate the area of your patio. You’ll need this ratio to determine how much natural stone and materials you will need to procure.
There are a few different options when it comes to obtaining natural stone for your patio. Choose stone that is naturally flat and smooth, as it will result in a safer, more level surface. Paving stones, slate, and blue stone are all excellent choices for the job.
Before you start laying your natural stone patio, mark off the area you will cover by using stakes and string. If you want a curved patio, marking paint would work better.
Next, dig away the sod and soil within the marked area. Remove roughly four inches of soil. The bottom of the hole should be as level as possible. Lay down plastic or fabric landscaping sheets to prevent weeds from growing as well. If you plan to use edging around your patio, now would be the time to put it in place.
Laying the Stone
When the landscaping sheets and edging are both in place, begin filling the hole with sand. Leave roughly an inch of space from the top of the sand and the top of the hole or edging. Next, lay the natural stones on top of the sand. Stamp them into the sand by either stepping on them or hitting them with a rubber mallet.
To ensure that the tops of the stones are even and level with the ground, lay a flat board across the tops of the stones, with one edge on each side of the hole. If a rock is too low, remove it and add more sand underneath; if it is too high, set it aside and remove a bit of the sand beneath it.
The Finishing Touches
Once you’ve laid all of the stones in place, the final step is to fill in the gaps between them. Pour sand, gravel, or topsoil into the spaces between the sand. Brush away any excess with a wide push broom. Filling in these gaps not only makes your new patio safer, it also creates a more polished look.
Once your new patio is installed, you’ll be amazed at the burst of interest it adds to your yard’s existing landscaping. When installed correctly, a stone patio that took a mere weekend to build can pay dividends in aesthetic value and home equity for years into the future.