Mud Season in Alaska prompted me to re-do the pad at the front steps. First, I removed a couple wheelbarrows of the offending soil. Second, I joined pressure treated 4x4s with lap joints and exterior screws to form a frame. Third, I leveled them all around and attached them to white oak stakes driven a couple feet down. Fourth, I added a few inches of 3/4" gravel, which filled in beneath and supported the frame. Last, I threw some 12" x 12" pavers down. 2 hours.
Lucy still prefers the dirt.