In just one weekend, you can update your outdoor living space for entertaining. Learn how to build a patio with flagstones, bricks, or pavers.

By Megan McConnell Hughes
Updated April 23, 2020
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Incorporate a stone patio into your backyard or garden for an easy outdoor room. The hard surface gives patio furniture firm footing, so you can create a seating ensemble for outdoor dining, morning coffee, or simply relaxing with friends. To build your own DIY patio, you'll need gravel, sand, and your choice of patio material. Bricks, pavers, or flagstones all create sturdy and attractive stone patio designs. For your first DIY patio project, save yourself some work and choose a pattern that doesn't require cutting the patio material. Bricks or pavers in straight or gently curving patterns typically work well for an easy DIY patio. Flagstones, with their irregular shapes, are perfect for an informal patio with natural appeal.

Credit: Marty Baldwin

How to Build a Patio

Building a patio is much like putting together a puzzle. Rotate the pieces until they fit together, working to create nearly uniform space between the stones. Use the following tutorial for how to build a flagstone, brick, or paver patio. The basic steps for this DIY patio are the same for each material.

What You'll Need

  • Garden hose or stakes and string
  • Spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Landscape fabric
  • Gravel
  • Tamper or plate compactor
  • Builder's sand
  • Flagstones, bricks, or pavers
  • Broom
Dig into the ground to create a base for your DIY patio.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

1. Outline Your DIY Patio and Remove the Sod

Lay a garden hose on the ground or use stakes and string to define the shape of your DIY patio. If you're undecided about the best size for your new space, build a slightly larger patio than you were intending. Making an existing stone patio larger later on is often more challenging than simply building a large patio in the beginning.

Using a sharp garden spade shovel, remove the sod and soil at the patio location. Excavate a 5-inch-deep base plus the thickness of the flagstone, brick, or paver. Use a wheelbarrow to transport the excess soil to a compost pile or a low spot in the yard or along the foundation.

Place landscape fabric on the ground.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

2. Add Landscape Fabric to the Patio Base

Line the excavated area with landscape fabric, cutting the fabric to fit. Although this is not an essential step in the process of building a patio, it helps prevent weeds from sprouting between the patio stones. Landscape fabric is fairly inexpensive and easy to install, so this weed control method is well worth it.

Spread the gravel and sand with a rake.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

3. Build a Patio Base of Gravel and Sand

Add gravel to the excavated area and spread it to form a 4-inch-deep layer over the entire patio space. Use a tamper or a rented plate compactor to settle the gravel and create a firm base. Next, spread a 1-inch-deep layer of builder's sand on top of the gravel. Again, use a tamper or plate compactor to create a smooth surface for your DIY patio.

Lay stones on top of the sand.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

4. Place Stones in the Patio Area

Beginning on one side of the patio, lay the first flagstones. Add sand underneath the stone as necessary to create a nearly level surface. Place the stones as close together as possible. Large gaps between stones invite weed seeds to germinate and add to the uneven nature of the patio surface.

Sweep sand between the cracks.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

5. Top the Patio with More Sand

After all the stones are in place, spread additional builder's sand over the patio. Use a stiff broom to sweep sand over the bricks until the cracks are filled. Water the surface with a fine mist from a garden hose to encourage the sand to sink into the spaces between the stones. Repeat the process of adding sand, sweeping, and watering about a week after construction to ensure a durable finish for your DIY patio.

Maintain your finished stone patio to keep it in top shape.
| Credit: Marty Baldwin

6. Enjoy Your DIY Stone Patio

Round up your outdoor seating and a table or two to decorate your new stone patio. If the patio stones start to wobble over time (or the sand begins to wear away), add additional sand between the cracks, sweep, and water with a hose to maintain a smooth patio surface. To prevent mildew and stains on your stone patio, plan to clean the stones at the beginning and end of the outdoor season with a pressure washer or by scrubbing with a detergent solution.


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