Whether laying a patio or a walkway across your grass-covered yard, to produce a sturdy patio that resists problems you must excavate the grassy area to create a firm base for your patio. Several methods of construction exist, from leaving grassy gaps between paving slabs to dry (sand) construction to wet (mortar) construction. The average homeowner can make a simple dry construction patio or walkway over a grassy yard with the right tools and materials.
Mark the location of your patio or pathway through or on the grassy yard with wooden stakes, hammering them into the ground with the rubber mallet. Place the wooden stakes at the corners of the patio space or every four to six feet along the course of the pathway. Tie plastic ribbon between the stakes to create a more definite outline of the area you want to pave.
Excavate inside the staked-off area. Use a shovel to remove a depth of five inches of soil and sod. Place the grass and dirt in a wheelbarrow to transport away from your work site.
Check the levelness of the area after excavating. In the case of a patio, remove more soil as necessary to produce a site that slopes away slightly from your home. For pathways, remove more soil to create a trench that slopes slightly outwards and downwards from the centre of the pathway width. This prevents water from pooling by the house or on the path.
Compact the soil inside the area using a mechanical soil compactor. Roll the compactor over the area until the soil becomes firm and resists any further compaction.
Place a two-inch thick layer of gravel over the soil. Shape the gravel into a layer that slopes away gently from the home or the centre of the pathway and compact this gravel layer using the same process from the previous step.
Cover the gravel layer with a two-inch layer of masonry sand. Shape this layer into a similar slope and wet the sand layer with a garden hose before compacting the sand layer.
Start laying the paving slabs into place. If you are placing a patio next to a home, start against the home and work away; for unconnected patio or pathways, start in the centre of the paving area and work outwards in all directions.
Set the first slab on the cleared area and use a rubber mallet and level to tap the slab perfectly into place. Remember that you want the slab to slope gradually away from the centre of the pathway or away from your home. Continue to place slabs as close together as possible in the patio or pathway site.
Spread a wheelbarrow full of masonry sand over the top of the patio or pathway surface. Use a garden hose to push the sand off the surface of the paving slabs and into the cracks between the slabs.
Do not walk on your new patio or pathway for at least 48 hours.