How to Build a Patio on a Hill

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How to Build a Patio on a Hill
Raised patios provide ideal construction methods for both steep and gently sloping landscapes. (Todd Pearson/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Living on a sloped lot proves troublesome any time you attempt a landscaping or outdoor building project. Fortunately, building a patio on a hill or slope does not need to be a professionals-only task. You can build your own hilltop or hillside patio by preparing a proper base and form before actual construction begins. You will need a level base with proper drainage, regardless of the building materials you intend to use for the patio.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Spade or backhoe
  • 2-foot or 4-foot level
  • Mechanical or manual soil compactor
  • Gravel
  • Brick or stone
  • Mortar (optional)
  • Patio paving materials

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Excavate the patio site in the desired width and length. Begin at the lowest point of the sloped site and excavate to a total depth of 6 inches in this location. In the higher portions of the patio site, you will remove additional soil and dig deeper into the ground to create a site level with the shallow side of the patio.

  2. 2

    Survey the bed of the excavated site with a 2-foot or 4-foot level. Remove heaped areas of soil to provide a level surface on which to build the patio.

  3. 3

    Compact the soil at the site's bed using a mechanical or manual soil compactor. Depending on the size of the patio, you may use a manual compactor by thrusting the device against the ground to compact the soil or simply roll a larger, mechanical compactor over the area to compress the soil.

  4. 4

    Add a 3-inch layer of gravel to the site to provide base material for the patio. Level and compact this layer using a 2-inch by 4-inch board to grade the surface of the gravel, a level to check the site and the compaction tool used in Step 3 to compact the gravel layer.

  5. 5

    Build a retaining wall around the shallow edges of the patio site. Stack brick or stone against the interior edges of the site, one layer at time, until you create a wall measuring the same height as the excavated edge at the deepest point of the patio site. You may use mortar to install the retaining wall, if desired.

  6. 6

    Fill the area inside the patio site with fill material such as gravel. Leave 3 to 6 inches at the top of the site to provide room to place paving bricks or stones or to pour a concrete slab. Proceed to set the patio paving materials in place on the prepared base.

Tips and warnings

  • Depending on the size of your patio, use either a spade or backhoe to make short work of the excavation process.
  • Leave a larger depth at the top of the retaining walls to provide a thick concrete slab patio.
  • Slope the paving materials 1 inch for every 6 feet of the patio's width or length to promote proper drainage of water from the finished patio surface.

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