Need advise on new patio

scully931(6)February 9, 2011


I am looking to make a small brick patio in a shady section of my yard.

Right off the bat... I can't spend a lot of money. I will be doing this all by myself with no help from strong guys. And I'm not especially particular. :-) All I want is a place to put my little table and maybe a small firepit.

I have researched how to make brick patios. My problem is, tree roots.

There is a large pine tree not far from the site and several roots are potruding from the ground.

Most of the websites I have visited say to dig down before laying the brick. I'm wondering if it would be possible to NOT dig down and instead use a lot of sand on top to level it.

I don't know... just a thought. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!


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karinl(BC Z8)

It may pose a bit of risk to the tree, but in my experience with big trees, they compensate pretty effectively with additional root growth if they need it. That may actually happen under your patio as moisture will accumulate under the stones and they will seek that out, but I did build a patio under our tree once and actually dug down... the roots that grew underneath did not heave the stones.

Mind you, I used big heavy stones, which is what I would recommend for you too. No bricks, but 24x24 concrete slabs (or natural stone slabs if you can get them). This has a double purpose: First, it will not heave as readily so will stay level better than little bricks, and assuming there is also tree debris, it will be easier to keep clear.

Now, I will say these slabs are challenging to handle, but I have always handled them by myself as well. Leverage is your friend. I get help lifting them into my vehicle when I buy them, and scaffold them out at home. To move them along a horizontal area I "roll" them along their edge. I usually put down little pieces of plywood or fenceboard to protect the corners.

And if you absolutely can't do that, consider going smaller, maybe down to 12x12 slabs or the biggest that you can handle.

You can lay your bricks around the protruding roots too rather than over top. In your climate you will have to contend with frost heave though, and that might be a reason to go with your bed of sand overtop plan.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 12:30PM
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We laid a small brick patio area for sister-in-law over 10 years ago that had to be elevated and it has held up amazingly well. We used pressure treated 4x4, filled w/granite dust and laid brick, swept in more granite dust between bricks. The cherry trees have done fine with this over their roots and nothing has come up between the bricks except mossy stuff.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 9:18PM
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Thank you for the great advice!

I actually would prefer to use the larger stones, my only problem is the area I live in: the North HILLS. The area is accessible only by going up several steps and small hills. I'm fairly strong, but... eh. Even carrying mulch up there gets hard after awhile.

You're right about frost heave. Hadn't thought of that.

So, if I lay the 4x4s I'm wondering what I do about any areas of the wood that doesn't lay flat against the lawn. :-/ Won't the sand or granite just slide out? Or will it all be okay once the brick is in?

At any rate, I guess it sounds like the plan is at least worth a try.

Thanks again! I didn't want to try this without running it by an experienced group. :-)


    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:13PM
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A couple of years ago I put in a small patio 7 1/2 x 8 or 10 ft under my orange tree so I could walk over to turn on water faucet without getting shoes muddy & wet. Some thought it would kill the tree, it didn't,doing better than ever, likes the roots being cooler. I used house & piece of plastic edging to hold in paver which is what I used. I bought a few at a time hauled them around back & when I had 250 or whatever it was I did it. I used keyhole pavers(they are smaller now than they were)I was 1 edge paver short & new 1 is too small for the space. I put down shade cloth stuff used to keep weeds out laid the pavers on top of ground which needed leveling just in 1 corner, & finished with sweeping in sand. It's working out well.I sweep it off & occasionally wash it as I have some plants in pots on it. So 3 sides have plastic stuff with spikes holding it in place & other side is house. I had pic of it on but they were lost last year when hackers took out lot of stuff. You can cover the edge of plastic strips with dirt or lift grass, pound in & replace grass. I thought a fire pit would require a pretty large area??? Anyway plastic pieces are in pkg at Home Depot & would work with brick also.So far no weeds in mine. I guess plastic will rot eventually but I think wood a lot faster. Before you think about 12 x12 or larger, try picking 1 up at store & multiply that by how many you would need.These wore me out! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 1:44AM
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Good advice about the plastic. Hadn't thought of that, but will definately do it.

I guess I don't mean an actual fire pit as in brick and something I would make. I found a very small fire container that also doubles as a small bar-b-que. May change my mind about that once I start hauling brick!

Thanks a lot for the tips!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 10:17PM
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