Backyard Patio Ideas


Backyard Patio Ideas

Part 2 of 3:  Construction



You can view all of my Posts by clicking on the following


This is Part 2 of 3 of:  Backyard Patio Ideas – Construction


For Part 1 of this Project, please refer to my Post:

Backyard Patio Ideas – Part 1 of 3 – Planning


Step 6 – Marking Out the Proposed Project Area


OK. Your Design has been chosen. Your Materials, Tools, and Supplies have been ordered and delivered. Now it is time to start the Construction. Mark out the perimeter of the proposed Patio area.



Mark Out Your Patio Perimeter

Mark Out Your Patio Perimeter



  • If the Lawn surrounding your propose Patio area is Dirt or sparse Grass, you can use a can of Marking Paint to roughly mark out the perimeter. If the area is good quality Grass, it will be best to use 24” long – 1” x 2” Stakes, if it will be a square or rectangle shape. Any curves can be accomplished by stretching out a Garden Hose or piece of String. You can hold the Hose in place with Sod Staples.


  • If you are using Stakes, take a Circular Saw, Compound Miter Saw, or Hand Saw to point one end of each Stake. Before hammering the Stakes into the ground, hammer in a #4 C.C. Cooler Nail at 9” from the top of each Stake, hammering each Nail about half way in.


  • Take your Tape Measure and measure out the perimeter of your proposed Patio, laying a Stake down in each corner with the point at the place where you will be installing it. You can further mark these spots with a small dot of your Marking Paint, if you prefer. For Patios that will be adjacent to Grass, you will need to add the width of the bottom of your plastic Edging to your overall Patio dimensions before positioning and pounding in your Stakes.


  • Make sure that your corners are at 90 degree angles (for rectangle Patios), and that your sides are perfectly perpendicular or parallel to any nearby structures, such as your Home or a nearby Fence. If your Patio will be curved, lay out a Garden Hose or piece of String in the shape of your curves.


  • Mark each of your Stakes at 12” from the point and completely across the width of the Stake using a Magic Marker or a Pen. This mark will be the depth that you will be pounding each Stake to.


  • Use a scrap piece of 2” x 4” placed on the top of each Stake when hammering the Stake into the Ground, in order to keep the 1” x 2”s from splitting. Take your Baby Sledge Hammer and hammer in a Stake in each corner of your proposed Patio area, making sure that your Nails in the Stakes are facing toward the center of your proposed Patio.


  • Once all of your corner Stakes are in, take your Snap String Line and tie it to your first Stake. Keeping the String Line taught, run it to each of the adjacent Stakes, looping it at least (3) times around each Nail, and finally tie it off at the last Stake. The String must be taught, since you will be using a Line Level on the String. Your String Line should be sitting about 3” from the Ground.


  • Double check each of your corners with your Corner Square against the String to make sure that they are each at a perfect 90 degree angle. Adjust the position of a Stake, if necessary, in order to accomplish this.


  • Then, take your Line Level, and place it onto the center of each of your String Lines, tapping down your Stakes where necessary in order to accomplish level.


Step 7 – Cut Your Sod Around the Patio’s Perimeter


Using your Flat-Head Spade Shovel, cut the perimeter of your Patio at your Snap String Line and/or Garden Hose layed out.


  • Punch your Flat-Head Spade Shovel into the Ground about 2” deep all around the perimeter of your Patio, rocking the Shovel back and forth with each punch to form a small ‘V’ in the Ground. Place a Tarp near one edge of your proposed Patio on the outside of the Patio area.


  • Then, either using your Flat-Head Spade Shovel or your Rented Sod Cutter, remove all of the Grass within your Patio area, cutting into the Soil under the Grass about 1/2” deep. Place all of the removed Grass on your Tarp. If you are removing this with a Spade Shovel, it will be best to punch your Grass into strips, about 18″ wide and no more than 3′ long. This will make it easier to handle.


  • If you are using a Rented Sod Cutter, you can cut up your first strip from one end of your area to the opposite end, then slide that strip about 3” away from the uncut area before cutting the next strip. When you are finished using the Sod Cutter, you can cut the strips into 6’ lengths and roll them up before placing on your Tarp.


  • If you have any trouble spots or bare spots in other areas of your Lawn, you can transplant any good Sod removed to these areas, or you can offer the good Sod to a neighbor. If not, you will need to find a way to dispose of the removed Sod.


Step 8 – Rototill Your Patio Area and Remove Soil


Beginning at your Home side of your proposed Patio, Rototill the area to a depth of 6” and remove the Soil, keeping in mind to pitch your Patio down away from your Home, at an angle of about 1” for every 10’ (this will be in addition to the 6”).

For Instructions on Grading, see my Post:  How to Stop Water Leaks in the Basement – Part 1


  • You will removing at least 6” of Soil from your Patio area, so you need to know what you are going to do with it. If you have need of it in other areas of your Landscape, you should plan on preparing any areas to receive the Soil, so that you do not have to move the Soil more than once.


  • Rototill the proposed Patio area to a depth of about 3”. Rake, Shovel, load up your Wheelbarrow and remove the loose Soil, placing it on your Tarp or wherever you choose to move it to. If necessary, you can create a small ramp with a scrap piece of wood to make getting the Wheelbarrow out of the hole a little easier. Then, repeat the tilling process for at least another 3”.


  • Check your depth occasionally, measuring from your String Line to the existing Grade, and adding that amount (approximately 3”) to reach the needed 6” depth plus your Grade pitch. In other words, if you have 3” from your existing Ground to your String Line, plus 6” additional depth for your Pavers and Base Materials, you will need to be at 9” below your String Line, plus an additional 1” for every 10’ away from your Home for proper water drainage pitching. You should try to be plus or minus no more than 1/2” with your finished Grade.


  • Try not to till too deep, because any loose Soil will need to be tamped down tight with your Hand Tamper before installing the additional Materials for your Patio Base. You can accomplish the final finished depth, by hand scraping the Soil with your Flat-Head Spade Shovel.


  • Check your pitch Grade away from the high side of your Patio area using your 4’ Level, supporting the lower end with Shims or a small piece of 3/8” Plywood, in order to compensate for the pitch. In other words, you should shim up the lower end of your 4’ Level about 3/8” for every 4’ away from your Home or edge closest to your Home. Supporting the lower end with your 3/8” Shim should give you a level reading. If not, remove or add Soil as needed.


  • If you happen to be too low in a certain area, replace the Soil needed to level properly (to the proper Grade), and place a piece of Cardboard on the Soil before hand tamping the Soil tight. This will prevent the Soil from sticking to the face of your Tamper. Double check your depth and Grade, and make any necessary corrections.


  • Using your 4’ Level again, check for level from side to side about every 4’. This should be level. Your pitch only needs to run in one direction.


  • Once your Soil is removed, you should install additional Stakes on (2) opposite sides of the proposed Patio. These should be the (2) sides that contain your pitch; the high side and the low side. Space them about 5′ – 7′ apart, run additional String Lines in between each pair. and level each of the String Lines. These will be used to periodically check the depth of your Base while installing your Screening. Always remember to add the amount of pitch needed when checking for depth.


Step 9 – Install and Tamp Your Limestone Screening


Install about 1 1/2″ of Limestone Screening, roughly grade, and hand tamp tightly, which will reduce it down to about 1″ thick. Then, repeat the process twice more until you have installed 3″ of the Screening. Recheck for level and proper pitch.


  • Using your Long-Handled Flat Shovel, Wheelbarrow, and 12″ Bow Rake, install and rough level the 1st layer of your Limestone Screening. Check your depth by measuring from your String Lines and adding the necessary amount in each area for your pitch. Adjust as needed. Then, place your Cardboard down and tightly tamp the Screening. Repeat the process for your 2nd layer.


  • The Limestone Screening should be installed in (3) stages, so that it can hand tamped tightly. You should always use a piece of Cardboard between your Tamper and the Screening to keep the Screening from sticking to the Tamper and causing divots.


  • It is extremely important to get your Limestone Screening as level (with proper pitch) as possible, since any low spots will hold water, causing your Paver work to sink. This is why fine leveling your final Screening layer is critical.


  • After installing and rough leveling your final layer of Screening, bury (2) pieces of Conduit, about 4” inside of each of (2) adjoining String Lines, with the top of the Conduit at the proper finished depth. Check for proper depth near each end of each piece of Conduit, as well as at the center. Your Screening should be about 1/2″ above your Conduit pieces before tamping. Adjust with your Screening as needed.


  • Use the flat edge of your 24” or 36” Leveling Rake to level the area as finely as you can, keeping the proper pitch. Then, tamp the area down, using your Cardboard and being careful not to crush your Conduit.


  • Now, take your perfectly straight 2” x 4” Screed Board, place it on the far end of your (2) Conduit pieces, and skim over the area, shuffling the Screed Board back and forth until the area is level. Add any Screening needed to low spots, and to the area where your Conduit was when you move it to the next section. Do a final tamping.


Step 10 – Install Your Edging


Edging is needed wherever your Pavers meet the Lawn or any Dirt area, in order to keep your Pavers from sliding. Install the Edging at the appropriate points, using 10” – 12” Galvanized Nails, installed at each end of each piece of Edging, and installed in slots spaced about 2’ apart. You can cut any necessary pieces to size using a Stanley Knife. Edging is able to be easily curved to fit curved edges. Make sure that your Edging stays square.

If you are doing a curved border, you should try to make the curves as gentle as possible. Gentle curves will allow you to merely space one end of your Pavers for your border. Too tight curves will require you to shave each side of each Paver so that they fit properly, with less than a 1/4″ gap between Pavers (not recommended).


  • The Edging should sit on top of the Screening, with the perpendicular taller edge facing your Paver area.


  • Beginning at the corner of the side of your Patio area where the Edging is to be installed, measure for the correct length or width of your Patio, line up your Edging accordingly, and install a 10” – 12” Galvanized Nail into the end slot. Double check your measurement before pounding the Nail in completely, in case you will need to remove it and reposition your Edging.


  • Check your measurements every 2’ to make sure that you stay square and properly spaced from the opposite side, and install another Nail at each of these spots. Finally, install a Nail in the other end of your 1st piece of Edging.


  • Butt up the next piece of Edging tightly to the 1st, and repeat the process. You can cut your final piece for that side to size using a Stanley Knife with a sharp blade. When the first side has been completed, repeat the process for any remaining sides of your Patio area that require Edging.


Step 11 – Install Your Torpedo Sand



Install Torpedo Sand for Your Patio

Install Torpedo Sand for Your Patio


Begin by installing your 1st piece of Conduit on top of your Screening, about 4” – 6” away from one of your outside edges. Install a 2nd piece of Conduit, parallel to the 1st, and about 6” – 12” shorter than your Screed Board is wide, or at least a few inches inside of the adjoining String Line. If necessary, you can always cut your Screed Board down if it will interfere with your String Lines. Adjust your Screening to make sure that both of your Conduit pieces lie flatly on the Screening throughout their entire lengths.

Install Sand to support the outer edges of both of your conduit pieces, fill in an area about 3′ long in between the Conduit pieces, and rough level the Sand. Mist the Sand with your Garden Hose and Spray Nozzle until it is thoroughly wet. Then, finish level with your Screed Board.

Then, slide the Conduit down, filling in and leveling the areas previously occupied by your Conduit with Sand. Repeat the process in 2’ – 3’ increments until your Conduit reaches the far end of the Patio area. You will then need to replace the Conduit piece that is nearest your outside edge with a smaller piece about 3’ in length. Continue the process until your entire Patio area has had Sand installed.


  • Starting from one edge of your Patio area, lay your 1st piece of Conduit about 4” – 6” away from the outside edge, and the 2nd piece, parallel to the 1st and about the same distance inside of your adjacent String Line. Your Conduit should sit flat on your Screening with no rocking or low spots underneath. If there is either of those, add or remove Screening until the Conduit sits perfectly flat for the continuous length.


  • First, support your Conduit pieces on the outside edges with Sand, about 3” – 6” wide, in order to keep them stable while Screeding. Fill the area between your Conduit and the outside Patio edge completely and rough level. Then, fill the area in between the Conduit pieces with your Torpedo Sand for about 2’ – 3’ from the leading edge of your Patio area (closest to your Home). Rough level this area as well.


  • Mist the Sand using your Garden Hose with Spray Nozzle set on mist, until the Sand is thoroughly wet. Using your perfectly straight and level 2” x 4” Screed Board, set the board on an edge, and screed the Sand (filling in any low spots as you go, and removing excess from against the Screed Board when necessary.


  • Screeding is done by setting your 2” x 4” on edge at the far end of your Conduit pieces. Then, slide the board back and forth, left to right and back again, continuously repeating while gently pulling the board toward you. Be careful that you do not dig any divots in the Screening with your toes or you will need to relevel these areas.


  • Once the Sand area is perfectly level, slide your Conduit down so that it only extends for about 2” into the leveled Sand area. Then, hand fill the area where the Conduit used to be with Sand, leveling it with a small 4” board. Check your newly positioned Conduit to make sure that it is still sitting flat on the Screening. Adjust as needed. Then, repeat the process for the next 2’ – 3’ area.


  • When your Conduit reaches the bottom edge of your Patio, you will need to carefully remove the Conduit pipe closest to the outside edge only, and replace it with a smaller length piece. Be careful not to disturb the surrounding leveled Sand. About a 2’ – 3’ piece will be ideal.


  • Take your Pipe Cutter, and cut the remaining (3rd piece) of Conduit to this length. Then place it back into the area where it belongs in order to continue the process. Continue to fill in the area where the Conduit was as you level each section, and level those areas with a small piece of scrap wood.


  • Once the first row has been completed, install the piece of 10’ Conduit that was removed, near the next adjacent String Line and in the same manner as before. Repeat the process until the entire Patio has been Sanded and leveled.


Now that your Base has been installed and leveled, it is time for the fun part:  Installing Your Pavers.


Continue this Project by clicking the following LinkHow to Build a Paver Patio – Part 3 of 3: Installation


Please take the time to leave a Comment or ask a Question in the Comments section below. Let me know how your Project went.



CJ Dodaro







Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *