Step 5: Set the Stakes

set the stakes
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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Set a stake every 2 feet along the graded mason's lines, and run cross strings at the height of the lines, creating a grid across the excavated area. Check the depth of the area by measuring the distance between the new cross strings and the subsoil. Clear high spots and backfill low points until the area is evenly excavated.

TOH Pro Tip: Make a mark on each stake where it meets the ground in case it gets knocked over, then notch the stake to hold the mason's line without tying it off.
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    Tools List

    • angle grinder
      grinder
    • brick hammer
      brick hammer
    • mason's chisel and maul
      mason's chisel and maul
    • square spade
      spade
    • pointed shovel
      shovel
    • bubble level
      line level
    • tamper
      hand tamper or compactor (rents for about $85 a day)
    • metal garden rake
      garden rake
    • mallet
      rubber mallet
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • push broom
      push broom
    • hand trowel
      garden spade

    Shopping List

    1. 1½-inch Broken Bluestone Sold in stone yards by the ton; 1½ tons cover about 100 square feet with wide joints. Choose an assortment of small and large stones of varying shapes. If possible, lay the stones out at the yard so that you know you have what you need.

    2. Stakes and Mason's line to lay out the pitch of the patio and keep the stones level.3. Paver Base A mixture of ¾-inch gravel and stone dust. One yard covers 108 square feet 3 inches deep.

    4. Leveling Sand One yard covers 324 square feet 1 inch deep.

    5. Moss Sold by the square foot. Buy enough to cover one-fifth of the area of the patio.