Answer: The soil under a patio needs to drain as quickly as possible to prevent frost heaving during the winter, which would make your pavers become uneven and possibly dangerous. This is the reasoning behind excavating downward, placing a layer of gravel, then a layer of sand, and finally the pavers. Should you decide to omit the gravel, keep in mind that the sand layer immediately beneath the pavers makes it much easier to set them level in the first place. The paver supplier or your local home improvement center should be able to provide you with instructions for the best way to do all this -- it's a very popular do-it-yourself project!
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