Reduce, reuse, recycle -- the mantra of the frugal homeowner. When your neighbor breaks up an old concrete slab, you are ready to recycle those broken pieces into a new patio. Also known as "urbanite," broken concrete is nearly always free for the industrious do-it-yourselfer, requiring little more than a wheelbarrow, a truck and a strong back. This talk-of-the-neighborhood project will take one weekend to complete.
Measure the space for the patio. Outline the area with a garden hose, adjusting as necessary for trees or bushes.
Remove the grass and dirt to a depth of 6 inches, using a shovel. Level the ground with a rake. Using a wheelbarrow, move excess dirt and grass to low spots in the lawn. Set aside a few clumps of grass in a shady spot.
Pour 4 inches of gravel onto the dirt. Spread with a shovel or rake until evenly distributed. Sprinkle with water, then tightly compact with a plate tamper.
Add 4 inches of sand over the gravel. Dampen with water, then compact with the plate tamper.
Sort the concrete, setting aside the pieces with a straight edge. Arrange the straight-edged pieces around the outside perimeter of the patio. Place the remaining concrete pieces inside the outlined edge, much like a jigsaw puzzle. Vary the shapes and sizes to provide visual interest. Add or remove sand as necessary to make a level surface and tap the concrete into place with a rubber mallet. Use a long board and a level to check the slope. Patios should have a slight slope to allow water to drain.
Sweep sand across the patio with a broom, filling every crack and crevice. Sprinkle the patio with water and add more sand as needed. Use reserved clumps of grass to fill in around the edge of the patio.