How to Prepare for a Paver Patio


Preparing for a paver patio requires establishing the borders for the patio, determining the path the pavers will take and digging out the area to accept the pavers and sand. The depth of the dig must be equal to the height of the pavers plus 2 inches for areas with good drainage or 3 inches for areas with poor drainage. If the patio will connect to a house, the area must also dip slightly down and away from the structure.

Things You'll Need

  • Patio furniture
  • Marking paint
  • Shovel
  • Tamper
  • Crushed gravel
  • String
  • String level
  • Cement sand
  • Lay out the patio furniture that will sit on top of the completed structure to determine the overall dimensions desired for the paver patio.

  • Mark the area for the patio with marking paint following the basic shape desired.

  • Dig out the area to a depth equal to the height of the pavers plus 2 inches for areas with good drainage or 3 inches for areas with poor drainage.

  • Compact the ground with a tamper, which is a long pole with a broad, flat base and two handles on the side, or a mechanical tamper, which is available for rent from most hardware stores.

  • Lay out a 1-inch layer of crushed gravel. Compact the gravel with the tamper until the surface is flat and smooth. Skip the gravel if the area has good drainage.

  • Check the level of the gravel by holding a string against the top of the gravel nearest the house. Attach a string level to the string and stretch the string to the furthest edge of the patio while holding the string level. The gravel base should drop 1 inch for every 20 feet of area. For example, a 20-foot-long patio will have the string 1 inch higher than the gravel base at the outer edge if properly angled. Add or remove gravel as necessary.

  • Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with a 2-inch layer of concrete sand. Make sure the sand slopes down 1 inch for every 20 feet of length away from the house.

Tips & Warnings

  • With proper preparation and installation of gravel and sand to the proper decline, laying the pavers will be relatively simple.

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