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  • Neyir Urminsky

Behind the scenes, a crushed limestone patio tutorial

We are in week 4 of the ORC, a wonderful event in which anyone can participate. The challenge lies in completing a space within 8 weeks. Please be sure to check out the other guest participants. See my earlier posts on our DIY patio week 1, week 2, week 3, and my other previous projects here; A boys room for 3, Family friendly beautiful vestibule.

The morning after we finished installing the patio I was terrified, I had spent so long planning, dreaming & digging that I worried the end result was not going to live up to my expectations. Thankfully it is so much better than I ever could have imagined!!!

Finished patio surface, everything else is a work in progress!

I went into a LOT of detail in this post about why we chose this material. Having said that my top fav points are; easy DIY (compared to other patio options), environmentally friendly, can make any shape that you want as you aren’t limited by paver/block shapes, inexpensive, and easy maintenance. I am already dreaming about limestone driveways, paths and fire pits!


Before we get into the tutorial I want to address a few concerns.

  1. Keeping it clean? The top surface is very hard with just a few loose stones on top. You can rake leaves as on grass and sweep. Yes I do end up losing a few pebbles each time but I’m not at all concerned. We have a large tupperware of leftover material that we can add if we feel the need.

  2. What about water??? It drains! I am actually amazed by how little water collects on the surface and we have had some very, very heavy rains. Having said that, we have noticed that places where the water drips continually, under the stairs or through the slats of the dining table we are getting some pitting in particularly heavy rains. This is easily rectified with the rake or we could always add more material.

  3. Stains? So far I haven’t seen any leaf stains on the surface and I have not been good about clearing up the deep red fall leaves. There are a few spots where I dropped deck stain. I will likely drop a handful of crushed limestone on top, wet it and tamp it down if it doesn’t fade or wear off. It isn’t very noticeable at all.

Ok, strap yourselves in for this wild ride. I present to you this very unscientific, likely overly detailed tutorial on how to DIY your own Limestone Patio!

Also I feel like I need to add that this is SO easy to type out, truly the hardest part of this DIY is simply the grunt work to move all the dirt, gravel & limestone, in that order.

Another view, the colour changes depending on if it is wet and the light

DIY Limestone Patio Tutorial


Materials needed;


Wheelbarrow

Shovels

Stakes

String/twine

¾ clear gravel to a minimum depth of 4 inches

Crushed limestone aggregate to a depth of 2 inches (stabilised as a finish surface)

Water & hose to flood

Vibrating Compactor - this is the one we rented, I think we would have been better off with the smaller model


Step1 - Determine where you want your patio, path, fire pit, driveway etc & the perimeter. Think about transitions from your grass, driveway etc to the patio. We kept it level everywhere which meant a slight limestone ramp at the gate area.

A reminder of where we started!

Step 2 - Measure, you will need to calculate your square footage to determine how much of each material you need. Be sure to check with your aggregate provider in case they recommend different grave/base layer for your area.


Step 3 - Mark off the area, old school spray paint is great for this! Not sure where to put the patio edge? Go a little smaller first to avoid compacting soil to make a smaller area.


Step 4 - Figure out where you are going to put all the displaced dirt. We excavated a patio, used the gravel & backfilled with some of the dirt, also we needed to grade much of our neglected yard. If you have nice sod you might be able have it to have it dug up for free & hauled it away. Try posting in local free groups.


Step 5 - Start Digging! While you don't level at every step you will need to measure, see step 6. We went down 7 overall, 5 inches for the gravel and 2 for the limestone. Be sure to keep your edges clean using the edge shovel as this will be the edge of your patio.

Dug down, lines up for levelling, starting to add gravel

Step 6 - Drive in stakes & install level lines (not sure if that is what it is called) to the height of the finished patio. Can be done before digging but our layout didn’t allow for that. Our yard isn’t level, still you need to go down at least 6 inches everywhere. If you want it level overall some areas may end up deeper than 6 inches BUT if you are happy with how your yard looks/functions then you don’t need to worry about levelling. What you need is 6 inches depth everywhere so you can have that 4/2 formula (4’’ gravel, 2’’ limestone). Be sure you have some middle stakes as it is so easy to think you have dug down enough in the middle only to discover you haven’t!


Step 6b - This is where we poured the concrete pad for our stairs, spoiler that needs to be level - haha!


Step 7 - Backfill with enough ¾ clear gravel (or recommended base) & rake to get to min 4 inches. I did a rough level at this point, not needed, simply check against your levelled strings that everywhere is at 4’’. This is likely self evident but as I had a team of 6 & 10 year olds helping I wasn’t leaving anything to chance: distribute the gravel as you dump your wheelbarrow, starting at the furthest point & working back towards your gravel pile.

Gravel base & concrete pad for stairs are in!

Step 8 - Pull up your stakes - I didn't want to remove once the limestone was installed & they had served their purpose. The limestone was levelled to the grass at each edge.


Step 9 - Check the weather! Once installed the the limestone needs to be dry for at least 24 hours (check with your local supplier). Also you may need 2 days, 1 to move the limestone & another to rake it & get it the level you want (which again doesn’t need to be actually level). Also our limestone needed to be installed at temperatures above 5C/41F.


Step 10 - Dump in all your crushed limestone, again being sure to distribute the piles as you dump. I was amazed by how easy it was to push the wheelbarrow over the ¾ gravel!

Limestone is in, just need to rake, level, flood, & tamp

Step 11 - Rake & rake some more. You want to evenly distribute all the crushed limestone, again at this point we did spend a good amount of time levelling. This was because we did not know how quickly the installed surface would drain & wanted to be sure to grade so water was directed away from our and neighbours’ house.


Step 12 - Flood the surface well with a hose, you want to really saturate. We used the shower setting & allowed the water to arch up & over so we weren’t spraying the surface directly, I didn't want to disturb all my levelling work! Not sure that was really necessary.


Step 13 - Wait until all the water has drained before compacting.


Using the vibrating plate compactor

Step 14 - Compact - this went so quickly. We ended up going over everything about 2-3 times. The hardest part was where we had to turn at a corner or back up. Initially a funny mark was left on the surface but this was taken care of in the next pass or 2 of the compactor. I think we did the whole patio in under an hour.


Step 15 - Keep it dry & free of foot traffic for 24 hours to allow it to harden.


Step 16 - Enjoy & send me your after pictures please!!!















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