View Full Version : I'm confused

AJ Lawnscapes
07-25-2007, 10:43 AM
I have this patio that I'm working on. Its roughly 18.5'Lx10.5'W.

Thing is, it's on a slope. Looking down on it, from the right top corner to the right bottom corner it's level with the house. But from RB to LB and TL to BL it's a 6" slope to get level. So LB is 6" lower than RB and TL.

I have dug it out trying to level it with RB, but I"m hitting all kinds of trash stone from construction. Some pieces as big as the the block I'm putting in. Anyways.

I'm lost as to how to finish this project. I can't dig much further.

I'm thinking of squaring it out with 2x6's level to the RB, LT, RT, and then making a 6'x6' drop down on the BL corner where the fence gate swings in to level it off. Then just edging it with Edgers and Rumble Rock.

This is all customer provided up until the Edgers, and I serverly underbid this.

Anyway, just want to know what others have done with patios and slopes.



07-25-2007, 12:11 PM
I'm having trouble really understanding this, pictures if you have them would help, but it sounds like your going to have to build up one side with a retaining wall and set your patio on that

07-25-2007, 12:13 PM
I figure that you are digging by hand? Are you excavating for your base? If you could take pictures it really helps us understand what you are talking about.

If there is building material in there, you should really remove all of it. You will have to dig down until you hit clean virgin soil. This should be an extra cost added to the job and I would recommend that you use a machine. This part of the job you should bid right, try to make some money. I usually tell customers that I don't know what is in the ground and prepare them for the chance that there may be additional cost depending on what I hit. You should do the same.

Take this as a lesson why you shouldn't under bid jobs. There no other feeling like knowing that you are killing yourself and not making any money. You would be better off sitting at home watching Oprah then working for nothing.

Most of the work in a paver patio is in the base. Make sure that you do the job right, even if you don't make any money you can still make a name for yourself.

Hope this helps.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-25-2007, 01:31 PM
Here are the pics that I have taken.

If you look at the 2nd one, you'll see my line. It starts at ground on the Right Front Stake going back to the house level with the patio. That line is straight as an arrow.

But if you go the other way, towards the gate on the 1st pic, it's about a 6" difference.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-25-2007, 01:34 PM
Some more pics

07-25-2007, 02:41 PM
I am not sure how deep you are going, it doesn't look deep enough to me. You need to put down 4-6" of base material, 1" of sand and then the pavers. You should be digging down 7-9" and then you also want a little bit of a pitch away from the house. You should also be excavating at least 6" beyond where your pavers will end, not sure where your pavers will go but again it doesn't look like you are excavating enough material out.

I would rent a small mini excavator, it should be all you need to dig in that soil. It will cost you somewhere between 100 and 200 to rent one for a day. It will save you that much just in time and you won't be killing yourself. You need to work smarter and not harder. I am not sure how old you are, but at my age I try to save my back as much as possible. With the mini excavator you can break up the soil and then use your Toro to move the dirt.

I hope that answers your question.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-25-2007, 03:29 PM
Unforutnately the Toro is all that I can get threw the gate. If I could get the Bobcat in, that would be the best. We are picking the top of the soil, then scraping the Toro over it to excavate.

Unfortunately today we had it rented again, but they never made note of it, so I had to return it. Puts me a day behind.

We'll go out again tomorrow and dig it down further. Then build it up. I actually have about 2 inches beyond in the front where the pavers will go, and the side by the fence is getting taken out further. It's just getting through this soil. If you look below Jon's foot on the ground, you will see a big piece of concrete, take that in half and some quarters and that's the size of the stone I'm taking out of the ground. Don't know what else to do except maybe build on top of it. It's a lot of shale too.

Should I build it up, or take it down and level to the corner near the gate?

07-25-2007, 03:50 PM
They make excavators that are narrow enough to fit through a gate. I think this one would work for you. You may have to call around to see if one is in you area. I have never used one this small myself, but that is how I would go about doing this. I know they also make a backhoe attachment for the toro and that will work also if you can get your hands on that.

As far as raising it up or not, That gate swings in and the patio will have to be lower then that point. I see a doorway but I don't know if that is tied into this or not. These are some of the things that you have to take into consideration when setting your height. You can build the patio up to these points, excavating down to allow you to install your base, sand, and pavers.

Hope that help


AJ Lawnscapes
07-25-2007, 08:51 PM
Yes, the doorway and the fence gate both tie into this.

Thanks, I'm gonna get the Toro again tomorrow. I unfortunately can't find a bobcat that I can get, and the Toro dealer doesn't have the digger. Going to get a jackhammer and just clean it up with the Toro.

I'm gonna take it down and make it step into the patio from the Doorway. that way it's level with the gate.

07-25-2007, 09:17 PM
I recently rented a mini excavator that was 28" wide..........find one.

If you must, lose the shovel for a good maddock. A tiller can also be helpful.

Smooth bucket on the Toro is doing you no good.

***Why not take down a portion of the fence and just get a mini ex. Your expense may go up from another rental but look at it on a timeline. How much time will it save you? If you are there an additional day then you are spending more in overhead then you are in rentals.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-26-2007, 01:36 AM
I am calling a Bobcat rental store in the AM. This job is going to make or break me in the neighborhood. I will do it the best.

I am going to bring it down, level with where the gate swings in, and bring it up with edgers/wall brick to level the slopes.

This job is causing me to lose sleep.

Anyway, tthomass and waltero, thanks for your suggestions. This is a learning curve for me. It will be a success.

Thanks again.


Humble Earth Mover
07-26-2007, 07:10 PM
I rented a dingo to excavate a small walkway and it was totally useless due to insanely rocky & hardened clay soil. (I'll take a Bobcat MT over a dingo anyday!) I ended up getting so frustrated that I just turned it off and grabbed my pick and digging bar and went to town. What a waste of money! It's such a small area you are working on, with 2 guys and some muscle you should have that dug out and the base done in a day. Like Walter said, you should really remove any junk building material and take the whole patio down at least 8 inches below the gate height. To put a step in something that small will look out of place. If you think this job will set you up for more work in the neighborhood, then go the extra mile and do it right and take the money lost and consider it as advertising. If you decide not to get that crap concrete out of there, then good luck getting your spikes into your edge restraint!

07-26-2007, 09:08 PM
While you're there get to know the neighbors.

07-26-2007, 10:21 PM
AJ, what were you quote for the rental? for what model?

07-27-2007, 12:07 AM
Why don't you wet the area first, and let the water soften the soil up.
All you needed was a roto-tiller and your shovel. You probably could have rented one at $65.00 for the day. When we do a patio less than 250 Sq. Ft., we always use a roto-tiller and fill up the wheel barrows by hand. It goes very quickly. We've done quite a few condominium jobs, where the patios aren't much bigger than that, and things must be done by hand. Usually we can dump on site (under bushes or along foundations..sometimes even making new planting beds with the dirt).

If worse comes to worse, why not just raise the finish grade? Easier to add than to remove.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-27-2007, 12:31 AM
I'm actually raising the grade. The ground is way to rocky to dig threw.