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    Tractor Supply Company

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    DIY Patio Ideas: How to Build a Patio

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    It is easier than ever to design and install your own patio space as a DIY project. There is a wide range of options available for patio materials and endless finishing touches for any style, making putting together your perfect outdoor space a breeze. All it takes is a little planning and some research into the best options for you and your family to kick off this patio project.

    Getting started on your new DIY patio project

    Starting your patio project requires you to keep a few things in mind. Be sure to take some time for planning and consider the best options for yourself and any family members in your home.

    Take into consideration the best patio materials for your plans. Your outdoor patio space can easily become a haven for you to enjoy and build memories for many years to come. Make sure it's a space that reflects your style, preferences and needs.

    Different types of patio spaces for you

    There are several types of patio material options to choose from. When doing your research check out all your options:

    •  concrete slab
    •  pavers
    •  gravel
    •  sand

    You’ll need to decide if your patio is open or covered. If you are going to include any coverings, start first with if you want your shade cover permanent or temporary. You can choose an awning or porch set up, or a pergola. Some people use a variety of umbrellas to create a shade that can be rearranged throughout the sun’s movement.

    Finding creative and useful patio design ideas

    There's an abundant amount of inspiration online for patio design choices. You can also visit a local home and garden store or Tractor Supply to see examples and get ideas for patio looks and materials. Looking through home magazines or watching home and garden TV shows may provide some great ideas as well.

    Deciding on the best type of patio space

    Be sure to take your specific needs into account when deciding on the type of patio that is most appropriate. Do you need a lot of room for plants? If you entertain a lot, focus on making sure the space is functional and easily accessible.

    Be realistic about the size of your backyard or space available for a patio. Do you truly have enough room for a larger space, or will you need to focus on maximizing a smaller patio area? Going into the project with realistic expectations will help ensure the best outcome.

    Consider whether there are neighborhood homeowners' association requirements or limitations to building a patio. Nothing worse than getting started and realizing you needed prior approval for your patio and outdoor living space. A little advance research may save you a huge headache in the long run.

    How to figure out what size and shape your patio should be

    The size and shape of the patio area will be dictated by the dimensions of your yard or balcony. If you have a large area and need space for lots of people, you may want a space with room for many seating options. If you would prefer a cozy space for just you and your significant other, you can build a much smaller patio to suit your purposes.

    If a fire pit is part of your patio layout, you may want a circular layout that features the fire pit as the central focal point. If a patio is being placed off a deck or the back of the house, a square or rectangular option may be the best choice. Measuring and sketching out your space prior to starting the project can help to determine which shape and size will work best.

    Different types of patio materials

    Finding the best types of patio materials for your project comes with a lot of choices. A traditional concrete slab works well, or flagstone pavers for a more landscaped look. Using gravel or sand can provide a great space too. Here are some ideas and their pros:

    • Concrete is one of the most popular choices for patios due to its versatility and ease of installation. It’s customizable and can fit most designs you have chosen for your outdoor space. Concrete is long-lasting, readily available and extremely durable.
    • Asphalt is another choice for your patio material. It handles year-round temperature changes well and is an affordable option. It is available in a variety of colors in addition to the traditional black.
    • Brick pavers are another popular choice for a beautiful look. Pavers are a great alternative for concrete if you would prefer something different. Brick pavers can add an interesting pattern or shape to your patio surface, depending how they are laid out.
    • Natural stone pavers can offer a polished, customized look. Natural stone can be more durable than manufactured brick in terms of patio material. However, they can be trickier to install, so be sure you research and are comfortable with the installation process before you start.
    • Loose gravel is another option to consider for a DIY patio. It looks great, is easy to maintain and can help with yard drainage. It is best used in an enclosed area, as gravel tends to scatter.
    • Sand is another choice for a DIY patio project but brings more upkeep and cleanup than other options. Young children may enjoy playing in it (like a sandbox), so it can do double duty if needing kid entertainment. While it is easy to install, sand requires more maintenance than other options.

    All these options can be used alone, mixed in with wood frames or used in combination with one another. Try installing large stone pavers and use loose gravel or sand (or groundcover perennials) for the areas in-between. Get creative – there are a lot of options for you to choose from.

    Marking the space and building your patio

    Deciding on a subbase for a patio

    After research and planning, your next steps are marking and laying a subbase. The subbase ensures the stability of your outdoor patio space. Make sure there are no underground utility lines prior to beginning your project. Your power company can provide this information.

    The materials for a subbase will be different depending on what patio material you choose. If you decide to use pavers or natural stone for your patio, you typically need a six-inch-deep subbase of gravel. There are also new and innovative options such as patio base panels that can replace the traditional usage of gravel.

    Making sure your patio will not suffer from sinkage

    Look closely at your yard and make sure that you’re not placing the outdoor living space in low-lying area that collects a lot of water. Determine whether there are any slopes coming into play. If it looks like your patio area is going to be prone to collecting water, installing drains during your patio project can help prevent this from happening.

    Marking and measuring the space for your patio

    Begin planning the appropriate space for your outdoor living project by measuring the entire space.

    1. Start with placing stakes in the ground to mark out where you would like this area to be.
    2. Measure the length and width of your marked space.
    3. Calculate the area of the space to get a good idea of the square footage and the amount of material that you will need for your patio project. (This is relatively simple for a square or rectangular space but can get trickier if you have a circular space or one of a nonstandard shape.)
    4. Measure the length and width of your space and multiply those two numbers to get the area.

    Tools used to measure and mark the building space for your patio

    Tools used for measuring and marking your patio-to-be can be relatively simple for a small space, more complex for larger spaces. Wooden stakes will come in handy at all stages of the planning process, are relatively inexpensive and can be used for other purposes later. A laser distance measuring tool is very handy, especially if you have a larger patio space and can make calculations much easier.

    In this stage of the planning process, be sure that you have enough space to accommodate the needs of your family and friends. For example, do you need a space large and smooth enough to navigate a wheelchair? You may also need a certain amount of space around a fire pit for the sake of safety, to protect any grass or straw nearby.

    Tips for leveling the ground where you want to put the patio

    Best way to level the ground for a patio space

    It is crucial to ensure the ground is level before pouring or laying down the surface for your patio. If not leveled, the ground could settle later and introduce cracks into concrete or cause problems with other surfaces.

    1. Take about two to four inches of soil off the area where you wish to build your patio.
    2. Use a tool such as a plate compactor to tamp down the area, making sure that the ground is level and smooth.
    3. Roll landscape fabric out in preparation for the laying of the subbase.

    Another great method to use is the string level. In this method, you will place stakes a few inches high all around the area you have marked off for your patio. Attach strings to these stakes, find the highest and lowest points of the area, and the use the strings to adjust the soil until the ground is level all the way around.

    Finishing touches for your DIY patio

    Best tips for cleaning up your newly installed patio

    Make sure to sweep your patio space often, especially in the spring and fall when you are dealing with pollen and falling leaves. It is surprising how quickly nature can invade your patio space, and debris can accumulate quickly.

    If you have wooden structures on your patio (such as decks or wooden steps), it is best to clean them regularly with dish soap and water. Periodically, it would be a good idea to invest in professional cleaning and evaluation to make sure these structures are properly sealed and water-resistant. Pressure-washing can also help to maintain this part of your living space.

    Make sure that you keep outdoor furniture clean and ready for year-round use. Clean and wash fabric items and pillows as directed. Hose down your furniture regularly to keep it clean and accessible, especially in the spring and summer when you are likely to use it the most.

    Decorating your new outdoor living and patio space

    Once your patio is installed and ready to go, now comes the decorating! There are so many great choices to reflect your personal style and aesthetic. From choosing plants and a garden to finding outdoor furniture and seating, the choices are seemingly endless.

    Many home and garden enthusiasts find pieces that are beautiful as well as functional. For example, a rain chain is a great way to add beauty to your outdoor space, and it also can be used to drain water from a gutter. A birdbath is a pretty addition to your space and provides a watering space for your feathery friends.

    Outdoor furniture is an important piece of your patio living space. It can be as simple as seating for two with a small table, or a full outdoor living and dining room.

    Most common additional features to place on or around your patio

    A fire pit is a very popular option for outdoor living spaces. If you like this look and have the space, you may want to take it one step further and build an outdoor fireplace. These outdoor living spaces are the ultimate in outdoor comfort and allow for year-round enjoyment of your patio.

    If you’re active or live near a beach, you may wish to add an outdoor shower. This can help keep your home clean, especially if you have sand as one of your patio materials. Another popular addition is a small outdoor shed to house tools, provide storage or add another dimension to your outdoor living space (such as the "she-shed"). The shed can be placed adjacent to your patio or can be in a different part of the yard. Shed installation is similar to patio installation, including the use and placement of a gravel base.

    And of course, barbecue grills, smokers and other outdoor cooking accessories are always welcome additions to the patio space. You can choose removable or temporary grills and accessories, or you can build a dedicated outdoor kitchen. Building these structures with the same materials as you used on your patio is a great idea, both in terms of aesthetics and cost effectiveness.

    Time to dive in on your DIY project and start working on the outdoor living space of your dreams.