The next phase of the project involves more compacting and leveling, but this time your materials are sand, (preferably seashelt sand which provides more texture and enables the patio stones to grip better, in turn, reducing slippage,) and your choice of finishing stones.
Because we decided to use stack stones around the perimeter of the patio as well as the flower beds, we will wait to finish the patio.
The reasoning behind this is simple. If we finished the patio and then encased the flower beds, we run the risk of the patio shifting or sliding during the building, so to avoid this, we chose to wait until the stack stone is delivered before continuing.
We also decided to remove the tree from the corner of the patio, adjacent to the shed, as well as the flower bed that butted against the side of shed. This opened up the patio even more, and allowed for a nifty barbecue area.
We planted our perennials and trees, and even though we don't have a finished product as yet, we can still utilize the patio while we wait for the rest of the stones to be delivered.
This way, we get to live with the patio and are still able to make small changes, should we decide to, although at this point, we have pretty much solidified the major decisions, but it's not too late to change our minds on which finishing product to go with.
Right now we are leaning heavily towards a mesh stone, or flag mat, as some building suppliers call it. It looks just like flag stone, but you don't have to be a puzzle expert to install it!
I will be back with the next installment or 'Step Two', where we will be building the flower beds, perimeter, and possibly a seating area under our tree, as well as putting the finishing touches on the patio. After that is complete, we want to build a water feature and install a fire feature as well.
Personally, I think it's more fun to have a work in progress, but it will be wonderful to be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor!