DIY Landscaping: Installing Your Own Paving Stone Patio

8 April 2015
 Categories: Shopping, Articles

Some DIY projects are daunting, but installing your own paving stone pathway or patio doesn't have to be. It's actually a pretty simple process. With the right tools and equipment, you can lay your own patio like a pro.

Before You Begin

To get off to a good start, you should get all of your materials and tools. For your patio, you will need:

  • the correct surface area of concrete paving stones
  • road crush
  • masonry sand
  • polymeric sand
  • a shovel
  • a wet saw
  • a tamper
  • an industrial broom

Don't worry about buying specialized equipment like wet saws and tampers. The wet saw is for cutting bricks that do not fit the shape of the patio as they are, and the tamper is for finishing the patio by compacting the surface down so that is is sturdy and level. You can rent both of these items from a tool rental company.

You should get enough road crush (crushed stone and sand) for a 4-inch-thick layer. This layer will will sit underneath your pavers and provide a sturdy foundation for them so that they don't sink into the soft ground over time. You can calculate how many cubic yards of road crush you need by multiplying the length by the width by the height (in this case, 4 inches) of you area, and then dividing by 27. 

Getting Started (And Finished)

Now that you have your tools and materials at the ready, you can begin. 

  1. Mark out the area and shape that you want your patio to take. 
  2. Use your shovel (or skid steer if you bought/rented one) to dig down the area. In order to make the patio flush with the ground, you will need to dig down about 6 inches. Initially, the patio will be slightly higher, but tamping will compact the layers of sand and rock below the pavers.
  3. Excavate the area so that it is reasonably flat and level. You should not too much about slight changes in elevation, but try to make the ground as even as possible.
  4. Shovel the road crush into the excavated area and spread in evenly over the area. Pack the road crush using the flat side of the shovel. The finish of the road crush should be level. 
  5. Spread a thin layer (about an inch) of masonry sand over the road crush. The sand helps to provide some drainage and stability for the bricks as you lay them. 
  6. Begin laying your pavers. For best results, start layer pavers in the center of the patio area. This will ensure that the pattern is evenly distributed and will prevent uneven lines in square designs. 
  7. Lay the pavers evenly, working out from the center, until you get to the last part by the edges. Carefully mark with chalk the areas on the bricks that need to be cut with a wet saw. 
  8. Cut the bricks on the wet saw. Be sure to wear eye protection and use plenty of water to prevent the blade from overheating. 
  9. Lay the cut bricks. Backfill any areas that gape between the grass and the pavers. If you want a more definite line, you can use snap-edge style landscape edging to keep the grass from encroaching onto the outer bricks. 
  10. Use the broom to push more masonry sand in between the slight cracks between pavers. The sand will keep the bricks from shifting. 
  11. Use the tamper to force the bricks down and to pack the sand. The cracks will appear again as the sand moves down the sides of the pavers. 
  12. Finally, fill the remaining cracks, if desired, with polymeric sand. Polymeric sand works like a type of cement-- it hardens after getting wet and will bind pavers together. Not all patios need polymeric sand, but it is being used in most modern paving work because it does not wash away from joints after a storm. Sweep all remaining polymeric sand off the bricks once the cracks are filled.

As you can see, with a few rented tools, you can easily install a patio that is both beautiful and functional. Click for more info.