Outdoor living areas don't require much to be attractive and comfortable. A suitable spot to enjoy the view in the garden and relax in the shade is available in most yards. Creating a patio out of mulch doesn't require any special building skills and can be completed in a day. There is no need to strip turf or pour cement. As the patio ages, mulch can be inexpensively replaced to keep the patio looking nice for years.
Choose a level area for your patio that receives the amount of sun or shade desired. Avoid low-lying areas that collect water when it rains.
Measure the area for the patio and mark it with a length of twine. Plan on using at least 18 feet squared as a minimum for a patio for four people.
Cut a piece of landscaping fabric 1 foot larger than the patio measurement. Alternately, use a tarp or black plastic mulch.
Dig a 4-inch-deep trench that is 7 inches wide along the twine markings. Keep the bottom of the trench as level as possible.
Spread the landscape fabric over the patio area and push the ends into the trench. Place 1 inch of sand in the trench to hold down the fabric.
Set 6-by-6 untreated boards into the trench so they are buried halfway. Push the ends of the boards together at each corner as tightly as you can. Tamp them in with a mallet and fill in any spaces between the boards and the lawn with soil to ensure they are in tightly.
Spread a 5- to 6-inch layer of bark mulch or wood chips on top the landscaping fabric. Spray the mulch down with water, then walk over it to pack it down. Add additional mulch afterward to bring it back to a 5-inch-deep layer, then wet and pack down again.