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Can You Build A Patio Without Gravel

Create A Diy Pea Gravel Patio The Easy Way

05/11/2016 ·by

Hi friends! I know you have been eagerly awaiting the details on my Pea Gravel Patio, this was not only easy but gave us the biggest bang for our buck. Thank you for your patience & for all of your sweet comments about my Backyard Reveal. I have had SO many questions about this DIY project and hopefully, I will answer them all in this post.

One of the many questions we were asked after we decided on the Pea Gravel was why? Why not pavers or a deck? There are a few reasons why we chose this option, 1. it’s affordable and we thought we could tackle it ourselves, 2. I LOVE the look & the textureit brings, living out on the east end of Long Island most of the Hamptons homes use this material and it’s beautiful, 3. our yard is small, so I wanted material that felt organic and natural, the small pebbles make the yard seem larger.


large rakes to spread the dirt

Large wheel barrel with double wheels


Before we began our yard wasn’t level, at all. We researched and spoke to a few handy people we knew and they all said level it with the gravel. This makes the project WAY more simple than all of the other tutorials out there, truth be told on the side that needed more stone the surface isn’t as firm, which for us is fine but I wanted you to be aware. On the “thinner” side where we didn’t need as much depth of stone it is perfectly firm. So, if your area is pretty level this tutorial will save you a few steps.

This is how we tackled this project:

Installing Patio Pavers Is Not As Tough As You Think

I’ve decided it’s time for a patio in my rear yard. After visiting a local business that sells a vast variety of patio pavers, I’m ready to start. Do you think this is a real DIY job, or am I being too ambitious? After watching a number of videos on YouTube, I’m more confused than ever about the best base material. Have you installed these patio stones, and what method do you recommend? Are there any hidden surprises with precast concrete patio pavers?— Sue T., Racine, Wis.

You must have been in contact with my wife. She loves patios and has been wanting one for our New Hampshire home for a few years. I had constructed a huge brick patio for her many years ago at our last home and she misses it.

We did the same thing you did just a week ago. We went to a large local business that stocks just about any type of natural stone or precast concrete paver that’s available. It was exciting for me to see how the patio paver industry has matured. I can clearly remember how limited the selection was many years ago when the first generation of this building material hit the marketplace.

Kathy decided to go with a stunning paver that has a textured top surface that resembles slate. This design creates a random texture with deep shadow lines that might fool some into thinking that it’s real slate. Be sure you visit several stone and paver suppliers to see all the different patterns, colors and textures that are available. Not every business stocks every precast concrete paver.

Patio And Pathway Inspiration

Update your patio, build a new walkway, or install a fire pit for yard that’s perfect for summer shindigs.

A long-lasting patio is a lot like a smooth paint job—it’s all about the prep work. Rush to put pavers down on a faulty base, and it might take only a few seasons for the stones to shift and become a tripping hazard.

How To Lay Pavers Without Digging

You may think that building a paver patio requires a lot of sweat and hard work to dig out an area to lay a subsurface foundation. However, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. If you are not a person who likes added work, skip the digging and build the pavers up instead. Raise the surface of the patio above ground and then fill in with soil around the edge to slope up to the surface.


Outline the area where you want the pavers installed. To get the best idea of the space needed, place a row of pavers across the length and width of the area, leaving 1/2 inch gaps in between each to account for the mortar later on. Mark the corners of the surface area with stakes and run twine between them to form the outline. Remove the pavers when done.


Spray a grass killer, such as glyphosate, on the surface inside the outlined area. Leave the area alone until the grass dies, which may take a few days to a week. Apply additional herbicide, if necessary, to kill the grass.


Scrape the dead grass out of the patio area with the blade of a hoe or shovel.


Build a wood frame around the patio area using 2-by-6 boards. Use a carpenter square at the corners to ensure the boards are at right angles. Attach the boards with 3-inch wood screws at the corners. Tap stakes into the ground around the outside of the frame, spaced 3 feet apart. Screw through the stakes and into the boards to provide additional support to the frame.









Add Pea Gravel In Between The Pavers

How to Make a Pea Gravel Patio in a Weekend

Once everything was in place, the only thing left to do was add in the pea gravel in between the! I just shoveled small amounts in between the pavers and used a broom to sweep them into place. I went back and forth whether we should use pea gravel, a decorative rock, or grass, but ultimately, I went with pea gravel. I didn’t want a bold rock in between the, and long term, I think I would have maybe hated the upkeep of grass since there are so many pavers. So pea gravel it was. Plus, it was inexpensive and also helps to hide pine needles and other debris!

Phew, well there you have it! Exactly how we made our modern paver patio with pea gravel!

What do  you guys think about our patio transformation? I honestly can’t get over the before and after. Dang- what did we even do with ourselves before this space?! It’s going to look even better once everything grows in, too!

We’re currently enjoying the rest of the summer with some patio furniture on it, but next year we plan on executing phase two of our design and making a raised garden area, so stay tuned!

Also, If you’re interested in all the details on how I made this modern feature fountain or freestanding trellis, I have blog posts for both.

I hope you found this blog post helpful and inspired you to transform a weird spot in your yard into something amazing!

Until next time,

Find Quality Paving Materials At Nitterhouse Masonry

However you lay the foundation for your project, Nitterhouse Masonry has durable pavers to match. Our paver selection covers a broad range of styles and uses, ensuring you’ll find a versatile and affordable option. As a family-owned and operated business for five generations, we understand longevity. You can trust that our pavers will provide years of aesthetic appeal and convenience after installation.

To learn more about our high-quality products, call us today at 268-4137 or locate a dealer near you.

Grow Fragrant Flowers For The Sweet Smell Of Success

Here is something that neither cactus nor barberry offer your patio: sweet fragrance. The latter is precisely what the owners of this patio have chosen. It is festooned with fragrant flowers. The wonderful smell coming from flowers such as Easter lilies adds to your quality of life on the patio. What floral smells attract you the most? Be certain to include some of them in your patio plantings.

Step 3: Dig The Area For Your Gravel Patio

Now that you have decided on where you would like your gravel patio to be, you will want to remove topsoil using a spade to the desired depth. If you intend on laying a sub-layer for extra stability, you should excavate to a depth of at least 5 inches .

Ensure the base of your gravel patio is flat and compacted. Softer areas may require digging out and reinstating withMOT Type 1. For larger patios, compacting the base layer may require a roller.

A square edge spade is recommended as this will ensure the sides of your gravel patio are straight and even.

Use Both Sand And Crushed Stone

As detailed above, the best paver base is a quarry processed crushed stone subbase and a washed concrete sand base. Crushed stone’s stability paired with sand’s spreadability makes a manageable, long-lasting base duo.

For best results, use a dense grade stone aggregate and concrete sand that complies with American Society for Testing and Materials standards. ASTM C33 and CSA A23.1 is the recommended sand quality, but ASTM C-144 and CSA 179 graded mason’s sand is also acceptable. Talk to your supplier to make sure your materials align with these standards.

To calculate the amount of sand or crushed stone you should purchase, the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute recommends the following guidelines for every 100 square-foot area:

  • Four inches thick: two tons of material
  • Six inches thick: three tons of material
  • Eight inches thick: four tons of material
  • Twelve inches thick: six tons of material

Your material providers should be able to assist you with your quantity calculations to ensure you don’t run out during base construction.

Celebrate Spring On The Patio With Potted Bulb Plants

Bulbs such as tulip plants are to spring what fall foliage is to autumn. Make sure you will be able to enjoy some of your favorite spring-flowering bulbs from a comfortable seat on your patio. If you live in an urban area and cannot grow the plants in the ground around your patio, simply grow them in containers, as in this photo.

Step 5: Prepare The Gravel Patio Sub Base

If you expect your gravel patio will be receiving a large amount of foot traffic or any outdoor furniture, it is strongly recommended that you prepare a subbase for added stability usingMOT Type 1.

Lay the crushed levelling material to a depth of around 10 cm or 4 inches and ensure it is spread evenly across the base of your excavated patio area.

Always make sure the Type 1 is well compacted to avoid an uneven gravelled surface once the final material is applied and ensure at least 2-3cm is left empty to provide space for the decorative gravel.

No Sand Under Pavers Patio Experts Please Help

We’re in the process of having a HUGE patio put down by a landscaping guy. He seems to be meticulous and doing a good job, so far the result looks nice. This is a brick paver patio mixed with 1′ square bluestones in a pattern designed by the guy.

He dug out several inches of dirt and then placed a layer of coarse gravel. On top of that, he is placing a layer of fine gravel, leveling it, stamping it down with a flat tool, and then laying the pavers. He told us in the beginning that the fine gravel is doing the job of sand. Today I had another guy doing some work at the house who looked at what was being done and he expressed “concern” that this base would be insufficient over several freeze-thaw cycles . Now I’m all worried. I looked on the internet today and all paver patio instructions talk about using sand as a base. Are we in trouble? The guy is almost done with the stones. I’m getting an ulcer.

What Are The Different Types Of Concrete Mix

How to Build a Bordered Gravel Patio

Regular concrete mix is made or Portland cement, sand, and gravel. It’s commonly used for slabs, patios, floors, footings, steps, and sidewalks.

Fast- setting concrete has the same sand & gravel but a special blend of fast setting cements added. It sets hard in 20 – 40 minutes. Use it for fence posts, steps, walkways, small slabs.

Crack Resistant concrete has cement, sand, and gravel, but also has air-entraining admixture and reinforcing fibers. This recipe helps reduce cracking from drying shrinkage and can be used for structural concrete building.

There’s many other different types of concrete mixes out there. They either have slightly different blends of cement, sand, and gravel, and/or they have various admixtures added to them for specific applications.

But, they all have some kind of gravel or stone as one of the ingredients. If they don’t, it’s not considered a concrete mix, it’s some type of mortar mix.

How To Build Patios Without Cement

If you are considering building a patio but have been hesitant to do so because patios require cement, don’t give up on the idea. A patio can be built without cement. You’ll need a well-prepared base that you use to support brick, tile, flagstone, or another reliable material. This will be cheaper than cement, water permeable and environmentally friendly. Most importantly, your new patio will look good. Cement looks far too plain and drab. You’ll love the aesthetic of a rich red brick or colored tile. You’ll even be able to dig up this patio if you want to move its location at some point in the future.

Roll Out Landscape Fabric

  • Add a layer of landscape fabric over the tamped soil.
  • Note: The purpose of the landscape fabric is to prevent the sand from mixing in with the soil. But it’s important to use a non-woven fabric, as woven landscape fabric isn’t very permeable and can trap water under your patio. Look for fabric with at least a 20-year life span.

Level & Compact The Dirt

Little by little, as we added in dirt, we started compacting it with a dirt tamper.

In hindsight, I wish we just rented a compactor, but we didn’t know that we were going to have to add as much dirt as we needed to, to make it level!

Another problem we ran into was the weather. In typical Seattle fashion, it kept on raining during our project, which wasn’t really a problem until we started compacting the dirt.

The dirt was getting too wet to pack down. It would just get stuck on the bottom of the, collecting more mud with each pound to the ground and ended up a muddy mess.

Slowly but surely, we packed and tampered down thin layers of dirt and then took a 2×4 and slowly screeded the dirt to make sure it was as level as possible

Lay Out The Frame Timbers

Arrange the eight landscape timbers to form a 16-foot square. Overlap the timbers at the corners so that the end of one timber butts up against the side of the neighboring timber. When you’re done, each side of the frame should have one butted end and one overlapping end, resulting in a perfect square.

Other Cheaper And Quicker Options To Replace Footings

If you’re in the market for a freestanding or floating deck, you’re going to want to pay extra attention to this part. If it’s 6 feet or less with a proper post to beam and joist bracing, then you can install a floating deck without the hassle of having to install concrete footings.


One of the cheapest options out there is deck blocks, which are blocks that literally sit on the ground and provide the foundation for your deck. They will save you a good chunk of change, but you should be sure to buy more than enough so you have plenty of support for your deck. The last thing you want is an uneven deck that begins to sink into the ground. Deck blocks come in two different types. The first one has an indentation in the top for a 4 x 4 post, and the other has a cross-shaped indentation that supports beams with no post. The biggest you’ll ever see a deck block is about seven inches, which is why they’re a great option for decks so close to the ground. The blocks that support the 4 x 4 post will allow you to build higher, so depending on how high or low you want your deck to be, it’s important to do your homework on both types of blocks.



Patios Require Good Drainage

If you have excellent drainage, you won’t have to dig very deep into the ground. Those with optimal drainage will only have to dig a couple inches. The majority of drainage should be capable of handling 4 to 8 inches. Be sure to remove all rocks and roots from the area. Keep in mind that if you dig deeper than you need to, it will reinforce the stability of the area.

Proceed to line the perimeter’s edges with bender board. Keep it held in place momentarily with stakes. Then spray the area with a light amount of water. Fill in the bottom with a road base about 2 to 4 inches deep. You can also use crushed recycled cement or a ¾ inch gravel if you’d like. Many people choose to layer this area with a weed cloth. Weeds can be pulled fairly easily without the cloth though. Also, if your pavers have multiple thicknesses, the weed cloth will make it difficult to set them evenly. Spray the area with the hose once again.

Next, add 2 to 4 inches of sharp sand. Set your pavers together with the desired gap in between them. If you let large gaps remain, you’ll have to fill the resulting cracks with decorative gravel, river rock or ground cover plants. Those who decide to use flagstone will need to shape and chip a lot in order for the stone to fit close together. Another light spray with the hose at this point is ideal.

Recent Posts

Easy Does It With Gravel Patios

Here is another type of patio that has some give to it: a gravel patio. As with the sand of the Zen garden pictured in the prior slide, the gravel cannot “break” when tree roots attack it. As a result, you need to be less wary of growing trees around your patio than you do with hard-surface patios.

Here is another fact about gravel patios that should meet with your satisfaction: They are not high-maintenance, as are Zen gardens. This fact will only hold true, however, if you take the precaution of using landscape fabric as an underlayment to make it more difficult for to invade the space.

Pick The Perfect Patio Building Blocks

How to Build a Raised Patio with Retaining Wall Blocks

Creating a new living area outdoors is a whole lot easier than adding one indoors. Sure, you’ve got to furnish both. But in the backyard, there’s no fussing with walls, ceilings, doors, or windows. All you really need is a floor.

That’s why one of the first steps in planning a new patio design idea is deciding which material to put underfoot, typically brick, concrete, stone, or gravel. The surface you choose plays a huge role in establishing not only the style of your patio but also its cost, whether you can build it yourself, and how you’ll care for it over the long term.

Read more learn which patio material is right for you, get guidance on coming up with a design, and find installation tips for cost-conscious DIYers.

Learn How To Mix And Work With Concrete

If you need help learning how to mix, pour, finish and just basically learning how to work with concrete, then you can learn from me in The Concrete Underground.

I’ll teach you how to pour and finish concrete for things like floors, slabs, patios, walkways, and stairs.

I have all my training courses in there plus a lot more. There’s many others in there just like you and you get to ask me questions in the private forum.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  • Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment,your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
  • Hi, I am Mike Day, owner of Day’s Concrete Floors, Inc. in Maine,  where I’ve been working with concrete for 40 years now, and this website is where I can share with you all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained from installing all kinds of decorative concrete, concrete floors, concrete overlays, stained concrete and also fixing cracked or spalled concrete.

    There’s a lot to cover, so if you have any questions, contact me!

    Outdoor Patio Ideas That Will Excite And Inspire You

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Do you enjoy dining outside? Some people are more die-hard outdoor dining enthusiasts than others, to be sure. But almost everybody can remember a pleasant experience at some point in their lives that involved sipping on some coffee, tea, beer, wine or other beverage in an appealing outdoor setting, whether it was at a friend’s house or at a cafe. And now you want a patio of your own.

    Or perhaps it is reading a book or chatting on your smartphone that you find enhanced if the experience occurs in an open-air setting? Regardless of the activity, improving your outdoor space is the key factor in making it possible for you to enjoy yourself to the fullest. The ideas illustrated here will help you cover all the bases in planning your new .

    Establish A Level Line & Start Digging

    Once we had a plan of action and had some, first we established how deep we needed to dig. This was super important because of how sloped our yard was.

    Using some plastic steaks, we them into the ground on all the corners to make the outline of our patio space. Then we attached a string to all the steaks to create a string box. After placing the line level on the string, we moved the string up and down on all the steaks until it was level.

    This basically shows how much we needed to dig in order to create a level ground. Once we established that, we started digging.

    Once we got to the main patio area, we actually didn’t need to dig as much as we needed to fill in more dirt because of the drastic slope. So we had about six more yards of dirt delivered and we filled it in as much as possible.

    Do I Need Permits To Build A Patio

    Rip & Tan

    One reason you may need a permit is excavation. “If you’re going to be moving a lot of soil around, your town or municipality will generally want to know about it,” says Pete. And second, if you’re pouring concrete, local authorities will want to inspect the site prior to placement.

    The Clean Water Act imposes other regulations. “If your patio is a hard surface, and large, you need to deal with the stormwater draining off it,” Petersen says. The patio must be sloped away from house, and if there’s a drain, you may have to treat the water that comes out the other end, perhaps sending it through filtration soils before allowing it back into the environment.

    Pedersen says that a sediment and erosion control plan is also required for most permitted projects in the Bay Area, and most likely in other areas across the country. If you’re installing a drainpipe, for example, you need to consider how water gushing out after a rainstorm will affect the surrounding landscape—especially if you’re on a slope. One way Pedersen solves this problem is by installing a perforated dispersal pipe to spread the water out.

    Ways To Take The Edge Off Your Patio

    If you are not a green thumb, have little time for plant care, or simply are not in love with growing plants, you may well wonder, “Should I even bother incorporating plants into my patio plans?” Here is one argument that may sway you: Plants help soften the harsh, straight lines of a rectilinear patio. But if you are dead set against growing plants, there is another way to “take the edge off”: Build a patio with a rounded edge, as in this photo.


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