Building a raised cement patio separates a comfortable outdoor living space from wet, muddy land. Installing the patio is a two-part project that includes building up a base with retaining walls and pouring the cement surface. Consider stamping the cement with a pattern to add texture to the patio. Cement stamps can make a surface resembles bricks, natural stones or other designs.
Spray an outline of the raised patio with landscape paint, using a 2-by-4 to provide a straight edge if your patio is rectangular or hose if it's round.
Remove all sod and root systems from the outlined area to prevent weeds from growing under the foundation. Dig down along the outline to create a trench 12 inches deep and 9 inches wide around the outline of the site.
Pound a tamper tool over the trench to make a stable surface for the retaining wall base.
Shovel 6 inches of gravel over the surface of the trench and tamp it down until the stones are packed.
Mix a package of ready-mix mortar with water in a wheelbarrow. Shovel piles of mortar into the trench and spread it with the edge of a trowel.
Set the first course of blocks for the retaining walls into the mortar. Place them beside each other against the outer edge of the trench.
Spread mortar on top of the first course once it is complete. Stagger the second course so that each top block is over the joint of two blocks beneath it. Spread 1/8-inch of mortar over the sides of each block and press them together. Place a water level on top of the courses as you work and adjust the bricks as necessary until the bricks are level.
Build up the retaining walls until reaching the desired height for the cement patio.
Fill up the inside of the retaining walls with 3-inch layers of gravel at a time, tamping the layers before adding more gravel. Stop adding gravel when the surface is 4 inches from the top of the retaining walls. Place the level on top and adjust the gravel with a 2-by-4 until it is level. Roll wire mesh across the surface of the gravel and tuck it in at the corners to secure it.
Mix cement with water in a cement mixer or wheelbarrow. Use a shovel to transfer the cement to the gravel surface. Spread the cement with the back of a shovel and slide a 2-by-4 across the surface. Continue adding and smoothing the cement until it is level with the top of the retaining walls.
Run an end of the trowel along a 2-by-4 to score straight control joints into the cement every 3 feet. If you prefer, press cement stamps into the wet surface for a patterned design.