Not all yards are created equal—particularly if they lack a welcoming space in which to relax and enjoy the garden. If you’ve delayed construction on your own patio because the task seems too daunting, here’s an easy-to-build project that can make any yard more inviting. As well, consider the addition of a ready-made timber-frame pergola overhead; it can offer a sense of privacy and enclosure without cutting you off from the outdoors.
- Concrete sand
- Hand tamper (Available from tool rental companies)
- Square-cut limestone slabs (To determine the quantity required, multiply the length by the width and add 20% for waste)
- Small piece of soapstone
- Eye and ear protection
- Dust mask
- Saw with diamond-impregnated blade (Available from tool rental companies)
Step 1: Excavate the area to a depth of approximately 20 to 30 centimetres. Though it may be perceived as slightly unconventional, creating a bed for the patio with concrete sand (instead of the usual limestone screening), as stonemason Mark Goger does here, encourages good drainage. Concrete sand has slightly larger particles than brick sand and tends to compact better. How deep the sand should be depends largely on how fast-draining the underlying soil is.
Step 2: Another factor to consider is the overall flatness of the area; uneven ground will require more sand to fill in depressions and level it out. For this project, Goger laid a 12.5-centimetre base of sand and compacted it with a hand tamper.
Step 3: Once levelled, Goger scuffs the surface with a rake to a depth of about 2.5 centimetres to allow for minor fluctuations in the evenness of the terrain.
Step 4: After sorting the limestone—purchased in square-cut slabs from a local stone yard—into pieces of similar size and thickness, Goger etches lines in the sand as a rough plan, making sure the stones’ joints will be staggered. Staggered joints not only create an aesthetically pleasing effect, but are important for structure, since aligned joints are weak spots that allow the stones too much free movement.