How to Build a Loose Material Patio
Outdoor Patio Ideas
Loose material? What exactly does that mean? Basically, it's a patio design that is made of material such as crushed stone, rocks or mulch. Loose stuff that is not hard and static. It's easy to buy a bag full of loose material and just pour it into an area of your yard to create a surface that you can entertain on. Sounds easy doesn't it? But if you want a loose material patio that will last there a few more steps.
Nothing beats having an area in your own backyard to escape to and enjoy. A place to sit and read or just to relax in the sunshine. We spend a lot of time indoors and we need to get outside more often. The best way to encourage this is to create an inviting outdoor room in your own backyard.
The steps to creating this simple patio type and all you need to get started is outlined below. We will look at what you need to create your patio. Loose material can be installed in as little as one day with a little help from your friends and, of course, your friendly neighborhood home and garden center!
Patio Construction - Here Is What You Will Need
List of Equipment
- Hammer or mallet
- Tape Measure
- Hand Tamper
- Landscape Fabric
- Drum Roller (optional)
- Loose Material
- Edging Material
- Hose and water
Loose Material: Three Main Types
The most common loose material products used for patio installations are crushed stone, river rock and wood chips. The hardest and smoothest surface is crushed stone. Wood chips will create a soft spongy surface and river rock is the most "rocky". Rocks are more difficult to walk on so it really depends on the purpose of your patio.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is it going to be used for lots of social gatherings? (perhaps crushed stone)
2. Is it just a place for yourself and your family to sit? (wood chips would do)
3. Is it a focal point, more for decorative purposes? (river rock is a good choice here)
But It really depends on your personal preference, visit some garden centers and look at the materials to see what appeals to you!
The Most Important Thing
Remember to check before you dig because there may be underground cables. Be safe!
Keep your loose material in place with Patio Edging
One step you should probably not skip when installing your loose material patio is "edging". This will keep your loose material from spilling out all over your yard and will give it some stability and definition.
A common edging is paver stones, available in a variety of sizes and colors, they create a decorative as well as functional finish. Another popular edging is pressurized wood posts. Cut it to the lengths you need and remember to miter those corners!
Common rubber flower bed edging is another choice although it is more functional than decorative, it can almost disappear and is great if you do not want a noticeably defined edge.
Loose Material Patio Installation - The Easy Steps!
Directions for Creating the Patio
- Layout - determine the dimensions of intended patio. Outline with stakes and strings to define the area before you dig.
- Dig out the area to a depth of 4 inches.
- Remember to grade it away from your house about 1/8 inch per foot for water run off. You can use a 2 x 4 with a level on top to run over the area to ensure it is even.
- Cover with landscape fabric cut to fit into the excavated area, overlapping the strips of fabric as required by 6 inches.
- Fill with gravel that can be compacted.
- Compact it down with a hand tamper or power tamper to a depth of 2 inches.
- Install edging such as pavers, pressurized wood, or rubber flowerbed edging. Install around the perimeter - the edging should rise about 1/2 inch higher than the dug out area.
- Fill with your loose material! Crushed stone, river rock, or wood chips. Add 2 inches or more of the rock or wood chips. For the crushed stone add 1 - 2 inches.
- Tamp it down with your tamper or drumroll it
- Spray it down with the hose to clean and settle the material. Now stand back and admire your work!
Need some inspiration? Scroll down for some ideas for loose material patios. A picture is worth a thousand words!
River Rock Patio
Rock patios, such as this one, create more a visual impact and are really not highly functional. River rock is more are pleasing to the eye and decorative. Walking on the rock can be challenging so using it as an accent around stable surfaces that can be used for entertaining is best.
Rock Patio - Natural
Loose Rock and Flagstone
Rock patios create a very natural looking backyard escape made entirely with stones, rocks and boulders placed randomly around the yard. Included is a tranquil water feature that is also created using some stacked rock. Flagstone is used to create one sturdy area for seating. You can do so much with loose material - get creative!
Mulch Patio - Boulder accents
Mulch Corner Patio
Mulch can be used in any corner easily and with the addition of some well placed boulders you have instant seating. Perfect around a firepit.
Mulch Patio - Stones for seating
Mulch Foundation Patio
Mulch area with a boulder "edging" providing a place to sit. This is so natural and blends well into the environment. Come on let's sit around the fire! Marshmallows anyone?
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons - Field Outdoor Spaces
Flagstone and mulch walkway
Combine a hard and soft surface
Flagstone is very pretty and natural looking hard surface stone. By blending Flagstone with mulch you create both a hard walking surface with the softness of mulch.
It is a pleasing to the eye and not as formal a look as most static stone installations. This is an easy combination for the do-it-yourself person.
Flagstone with Mulch
Another Example of Flagstone and Mulch
Another example of how wood chips and flagstone complement each other. This is a super easy combination.
Large soft mulch yard
Large backyard patio
Stop cutting the grass and turn your entire yard into a loose material patio. A wooden porch addition creates a solid place for the table and chairs. There is loads of room here to entertain and very soft underfoot!
Gravel and Flagstone
Gravel and Flat Stones
Buy some flagstone pieces, look for unique looking colours and shapes and lay them in a bed of gravel. This is an easy installation. It's probably a little unstable for a patio set but great if you are just sick of mowing that lawn! You could pick a area and lay some flagstones close together to create a sitting area.
Crushed Stone Patio - Stone patio ideas
Easy crushed stone
This is a super simple crushed stone corner patio with a flowerbed edging. It is perfect for a small yard where space is at a premium. Situated in a tiny corner of the yard it leaves just enough room for a couple of chairs and a small table. Very Cozy.
Crushed Stone Patio
Beautiful Square Patio Among the Trees
Crushed stone is laid down and tampered after a perfect square area is cut out in the grass. You can create little corner areas by just adding a few patio stones for a hard surface. You can create as large an area as you like and its easy to maintain. Just add more stone and tamp it down to keep it solid. Don't forget to spray it down with water so it settles. Go back and read the steps!