Instant patio

It measures just 7 feet across. See how you can build it yourself in a weekend

Three seasons, three uses

Thomas J. Story

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Most patios take time, and days of effort, to build. But a small, detached patio like the one pictured here comes together quickly with minimal effort.

Think of the possible uses for this circle of bricks. You can tuck it into a perennial border. Or place it in a remote corner of your garden, where you can linger at day's end over a glass of wine, or on Sunday morning with a latte while perusing the papers.

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Such flexibility was our goal when Sunset's Bud Stuckey installed this patio near the end of a wide flower border in our editorial test garden in Menlo Park, California, last summer. But we also wanted our tiny tuck-in to be relatively inexpensive to build, easy to install in a day or a weekend, and moveable. (Since heavy foot traffic wouldn't be an issue, we set the bricks in sand.)

You wouldn't want to walk on this patio wearing spiked heels. But if throwing fancy-dress garden parties is your style, set the bricks in mortar on a concrete base. Or arrange them on packed soil so you can grow plants such as creeping thyme in wider spaces between them. (You can edge the patio with bricks set on end in a trench around the outside, soil packed firmly against them..)

If bricks don't match the other pavers in your yard, you can adapt the idea, substituting flagstone, slate, cobblestone, or colored concrete pavers. In place of a round slate paver in the center, you can use a concrete paver embellished with broken glazed tiles in pretty colors.

Locate your patio on level ground, out of wind and hot sun. Position it to take advantage of any grand views and create access to it with steppingstones. Then comes the fun part ― styling your patio. Oh, and settling in with a tall glass of something cool to celebrate its completion.

How to build an instant patio

 Next: What you'll need to get started


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