So today i wanted to talk about another hardscape hack that i use in the field. When it comes to building patios or walkways not everyone wants a big square in the middle of the yard. Thats the fun when building a paver patio is creating a unique design that was meant for the customers specific needs. But often times drawing some thing on paper is the easy part. Anyone can build a patio on paper. But what do you do when it comes time to making what was drawn a reality? After asking what a customer might being using the space for and listening to their ideas and materials they might consider i come up with a concept plan. But how do i go from that concept to completion? After all the excavation is done and footing is installed and sand is screened and everything is pitching in the right way all the pavers have been laid down how do i get the patio to look like my concept? Well one tip i use is plastic paver edging. Paver edging is a restraint used on the outside edge of a patio or walkway. So that means i already have it on the site anyway! No additional purchase to make my life easier. So as you can see this stuff is pretty flexible, and that a good thing. Because that means its a great way to lay on to a patio and get a real look at what i can do to create a curve. This patio had a lot going on. There are circles that had to be perfect. A big outside curve and a couple 90 degree corners. And i was able to make it all possible with some plastic edging. So once i have this edging right where i want it, all i have to do is hold it in place and scribe it with a pencil! Now I’m able to remove the stones 1 by 1 and cut them where i marked and install this beautiful border. Then when all the cuts are made i have the edging to install. Its a win win. The edging gets held into place with 10″ metal spikes that are pounded into the over prepped area. There are many ways you can go about marking a patio but i find this technique very useful and its never let me down. If i don’t like the way it looks i can move it out a little there or pull it in a little here. Double check all my measurements and cut once. Hopefully this tip makes sense to you and feel free to ask any questions id be happy to hear from you.
This topic is always being brought up when i meet customers. And its one of the biggest differences that seperates me from my competition. Over preparation and maximum compaction. What does that mean? Well when building any type of stone project the stone work is only as good as the base thats underneath it. I see it all the time. People under estimate the power that water or bad sub soils can have on a stone wall or patio and usually will create them to fail. I brought up some of these points in another blog title “pavers verse stamped concrete” but today i wanted to talk about the topic from another angle. I had the privilege of being hired to install a paver walkway next to a pool patio. The pool patio was made from stamped concrete. Which is all well and good until i did my excavation next to it to find that there was no base under neath the patio at all. I was building a simple 4′ wide walkway and my minimum depth is 12″ down and start from there. As you can see I’m comparing the paver next to the concrete to show how much material will be installed underneath my paver to ensure there is a proper footing for this walkway. I always say its what you don’t see is what matters. It like this with any project. Even a simple retaining wall has at least 2 sides to it. This was an instant where i could compare apples to apples but every project gets this treatment. Well when it is being completed by us anyways. Over preparation means there is not just 6″ of over prep on all out side edges but 12″ or more. What this does is creates a base that is wider than the actual work. So think of the leading edge of a patio. Its tough for those pavers to roll and move when the footing continues out much farther. And maximum compaction means just that making sure that when the excavation is complete that the sub base is being compacted with a vibratory compactor. And the base material is being installed in “lifts”. Not just dumping 6″ or more in and trying to compact it but rather taking your time and doing it in small 2″ lifts. This makes the footing very strong and will allow those stone projects to last a life time. The last thing anyone wants is settling. Because unfortunately there is only one way to really fix it and that is back to square one. As you can see in this photo when its all complete it looks really nice and everything is lined up. But unfortunately there is a big difference on what is going on underneath this walkway and patio.
Todays blog tip is about a hardscape hack we use in the field when making custom curves or any design out of stone that would be difficult to figure out with out trying it on first. When building a curved wall like shown here or a set of stairs with a unique shape the top of these projects are typically capped with a solid piece of stone. This stone on a step or seat wall is usually uniform in thickness and width. (2″ thick by 12-20″ wide in most cases). But the problem lies when we have to figure out how to add this 2″ stone to our projects with the old saying “measure twice cut once”. Because the last thing you want to do is ruin a very expensive piece of stone by guessing. So what we do is use PLYWOOD. Plywood is an inexpensive way to make a stencil,then transfer that stencil to the stone for cutting. On this project we were able to cut the plywood in 18″ lengths and then figure out the angles as we went around this seat wall until we made it exactly the way we wanted it to. And good thing, because even when working with plywood there were times i changed a piece or modified the angle to make it just the way i wanted to. But when working with wood that is very easy to do, not so much with stone. Plywood is used to help me in other ways to. When building an arch over a fire place or creating a bridge i can use it to see exactly how it is going to look and creates a platform for the stones to go onto during construction. This picture shows the finished project with custom granite now installed onto the bench and fire pit. Maybe this tip can help you with a project around your home. Or maybe now you have a little better of an understanding on the thought process and techniques used to create these one of a kind stone projects.