Laying a crushed stone floor is one of the easiest ways to increase outdoor living space, says TOH's Roger Cook, who suggests using locally sourced stone to minimize transportation costs and your carbon footprint. Here's his step-by-step:
1. Mark the patio's borders with spray paint and excavate 4 inches of soil within those lines using a square-head shovel. Compact the remaining soil with a hand tamper.
2. Fill the excavated area with 2½ inches of pack—a mix of 3/4-inch crushed stone and stone dust—and rake it level before tamping into a smooth 2-inch-deep slab.
3. Lay landscape fabric over the base and sink steel edging along its perimeter. Use a wood block and hammer to tap the edging down until it's level with existing grade. The edging spikes should puncture the landscape fabric to secure it in place.
4. Shovel gravel on top of the fabric until the patio's evenly raked surface is ½ inch below the top of the edging. —SAL VAGLICA