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building an instant patio Step-by-step

Most patios take time, and days of effort, to build. But a small, detached patio like the one pictured here comes together quickly with minimal effort.

building an instant patio Step 1 :

- Rototill or dig the soil; rake it smooth. Lay the 2-by-4s about 7 feet apart to serve as temporary guides. Place a stake in the soil to mark the patio's center; tie a 3 ½-foot-long piece of string to it, then tie the string's free end to the second stake. With the free stake, trace the patio's outline in the soil, pulling the string taut as you walk a wide circle around the center stake.
- Remove the stakes and mark the circle with gypsum. Remove the 2-by-4s from the sides; then place the carpenter's level on one of them to make sure soil is level.

building an instant patio Step 2 :

- Pour six bags of sand evenly over the soil to about 5 inches beyond the gypsum mark. Smooth it with the edge of one of the 2-by-4s, then tamp it evenly to firm.

- Spray with a fine mist from the hose, then tamp it again into a layer about 2 inches thick.

building an instant patio Step 3 :

- Place the center paver on the sand base. Working from the center outward, set down the bricks (follow the pattern), tapping them into place with the mallet and butting them together as tightly as possible.

- Spread three bags of sand evenly over the surface of the finished paving, let it dry if wet, then sweep the sand into the joints between bricks. Mist lightly with the hose. Add sand until joints are full.

building an instant patio Step 4 :

- To mortar the center paver in place (optional, ), mix the mortar and add color, if desired, according to package directions. Using a grout bag, apply the mixture between the bricks immediately surrounding the center paver. Allow it to dry; wipe away excess with a clean, soft rag.
- For extra firming (also optional), mix 1 part mortar with 1 part sand, then brush the mixture into joints between the outer bricks. Carefully sweep excess mortar off the bricks. Mist periodically over the next two hours. Scrub bricks with burlap to eliminate any mortar stains.

building an instant patio Step 5 :

- Pour the remaining sand around the patio's perimeter; mist it with the hose and pack it firmly with your hands or the back of the trowel.

- Finished! Planting can wait until tomorrow. To help reinforce the patio's edge, lay sod or plant low-growing ground covers as close to it as possible.

Three seasons, three uses