Installing a new brick patio can be an overwhelming project. However, the steps required break down quite naturally so that you can spread the work out over three weekends and not suffer from do-it-yourself frustration.
After staking out the area where your new patio will go, excavate to a depth of about six inches. A tiller or sod cutter can make this job easier, but the fact remains that you should be prepared to possibly haul out thousands of pounds of sod and dirt.
Start by filling in your excavated area with about four inches of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch gravel, and then thoroughly tamp the gravel down. A hand tamper will get this done, but renting a power tamper can allow you to get it done much faster and easier. If you're using edging, install it now. Add about two inches of sand or stone dust on top of your gravel and tamp it down. Now use a level to ensure a slight downward grade going away from your house. If necessary add more sand to correct the grade and re-tamp.
You are now ready to begin laying bricks. Lay your first brick at one of the corners where your patio meets your house, and then continue placing bricks a row at a time, using a rubber mallet to seat them in the sand. Before you quit for the week, finish the row you are working on and cover the entire area with a tarp or plastic sheeting.
Continue where you left off, again laying bricks one row at a time and setting them with a rubber mallet. When all of your bricks are set, add a layer of sand over the top, sweep it over the bricks to fill in any cracks, and then water down the surface. Repeat until all of the cracks are filled.