types of patio surfacing

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I'm debating about using concrete slabs or gravel for a rear patio. It will be used with a table and chairs to sit on and will be about 12ft X 12ft in size.

A good few years ago I was up north in the grounds of a stately home and the paths were really good. I asked a groundsman how they laid them and I had trouble understanding his scotch accent. I think he said the base was limestone shatter and the fine sand was bedded down on that. Hhmm. The paths were firm and even and had no water trapped anywhere I could see.

Could that treatment be used for my patio? My soil is stony and well drained so I don't think I'd need membranes or similar. Would the legs of the chairs sink in, slowly? Would bird droppings stain the sand and have to be replaced? Would slabs be better?

Any advice on this would be welcomed, please.
 
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Do weeds grow in your soil? If so then you definitely need a membrane before putting stones down, and if not then I'm not sure it can even be described as soil ;)

I imagine the groundskeepers of that stately home spend a fair bit of time spraying weedkiller or performing other maintenance to keep it as good as you witnessed. Even with a membrane, over the course of time weeds will usually/eventually start to develop in gravel. Whether and how deep your chairs sink into such will depend on the stones/gravel used as some types will compact down to a firmer surface while others will remain loose. The shape/spread of the chair feet and users' weight will also play their part.

A properly laid patio is almost always the best option, though such is inevitably more expensive. To be fair, weeds can still develop in the joints between pavers and even this requires some minimal ongoing maintenance. Good luck with whatever you choose.
 

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