How to build a stone patio without mortar

Written by scott christ
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Building a stone patio is a challenging yet potentially rewarding do-it-yourself project that can save you hundreds of dollars over the cost of hiring someone to do it for you. Additionally, a stone patio is much less maintenance than a deck. Building a stone patio without mortar requires a specific process and if it is followed, it will result in a patio that can make a wonderful addition to any yard for years to come.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Stones (flagstone, sandstone, cobblestone, fieldstone)
  • Shovel
  • Wood stakes with string
  • Mallet
  • Hand tamper
  • Weed screen
  • Flexible edging
  • 2-by-4 inch board, 8 feet long
  • Gravel
  • Sand

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  1. 1

    Measure out the size of your desired stone patio. Pound stakes into the ground at the corners of the patio outline with the rubber mallet. Wrap the string around the outside of the stakes. Measure each side to ensure that it meets your desired specifications and measurements. Move the stakes as necessary.

  2. 2

    Purchase your materials. Buy the stones from a home improvement store, lumber yard or landscaping store. For a 10-by-10 foot area, you will need approximately 1 ton of a loose stone like flagstone. If you are purchasing standard stone pavers that are 4-by-2-by-8 inches, you will need about 450 pavers.

  3. 3

    Dig out the plot for your patio using your shovel. Go about 7 inches deep into the ground.

  4. 4

    Compact the soil by using a hand tamper or plate compactor. Both can be purchased or rented from a home improvement store.

  5. 5

    Lay down a weed screen to prevent any weeds or shrubbery from growing up through the stones.

  6. 6

    Install the plastic edging around the border the patio and set into place with the rubber mallet.

  7. 7

    Pour in a 2-inch layer of gravel. Use the hand tamper or plate compactor to compact the gravel until you have an even, uniform layer. Slide the 2-by-4 inch board across the gravel until the surface is smooth.

  8. 8

    Pour a 5-inch layer of sand into the patio on top of the gravel. Even out the sand with the 2-by-4 board until it is smooth and even.

  9. 9

    Lay down the patio stones. Set the stones as desired on top of the sand, wiggle them into place and use the hand tamper or plate compactor to compact each stone tightly. Leave around 1-inch of space between each stone if the stones are loose. Set them flush against each other if they were pavers.

  10. 10

    Add another layer of sand on top of the stones and spread the sand around so it fills in all of the cracks. Rinse the surface with a hose, and apply more sand if necessary.

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