Step 2: Set the Base

Cover the subgrade in batches of 3-inch-thick layers of pack, a blend of ¾-inch crushed stone and stone dust. Dampen each layer with water to keep down the dust.

Compact each layer with a plate compactor. Use a hand tamper near walls, sidewalks, or foundations. Repeat process of adding, dampening and tamping each 3-inch layer until all the pack is roughly 2½ inches below the marks on the stakes (if laying 1 ½-inch-thick stone).

Drive additional stakes every 2 feet between the corner stakes closest to the house and again on the opposite end of the patio, which the grade slopes toward.

Stretch a chalk line between the finish grade marks and snap the line against the new stakes.

Run strings along the pitch of the patio between the new stakes at their finish-grade marks.

Tip: For irrigation lines or outdoor electricity, lay 3-inch-diameter PVC conduit over the subgrade.
Ask TOH users about Patio

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    Tools List

    • metal garden rake
      Steel rake,
      for spreading stone dust
    • push broom
      Push broom,
      for sweeping stone dust
    • pointed shovel
      Spade shovel,
      for digging and spreading
    • square shovel
      Square shovel,
      for measuring and mixing
    • wheelbarrow
      for mixing wet material
    • torpedo level
      Builder's level,
      for determining pitch
    • leveling rod
      Leveling rod,
      for measuring pitch with builder's level
    • angle grinder
      Angle grinder,
      for cutting curves in stone
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • circle cutter
      Circle cutter,
      for scribing stone
    • four-foot level
      2- and 4-foot levels,
      for leveling stones
    • pointing trowel
      Pointing trowel,
      for adding cement mix and packing in joints
    • hand rake
      Hand rake,
      for leveling wet material
    • tamper
      Hand tamper,
      for tamping base along walls and siding
    • plate compactor
      Plate compactor,
      rent, if needed, to compact base
    • circular saw
      Circular saw with diamond blade,
      for cutting stone
    • mallet
      Rubber mallet,
      for tapping stone into cement mix
    • sledge hammer
      Hand sledge,
      for driving stakes and snapping stone
    • Skid-steer loader,
      rent, if needed, to clear and dig base

    Shopping List



    for establishing reference points between stakes

    3. GOGGLES

    4. DUST MASK


    for marking stone