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First paver patio planning

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by brutus35, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. brutus35

    brutus35 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I'll soon be starting on a paver patio in my backyard and will do doing the planning this weekend. This is my first time building one and have some questions.

    My first question is about the depth to dig for the base. I've heard and read anything from 7" to 18". I live near Pittsburgh PA, so we get some pretty cold winters, and I was wondering if the base needs to be below the frost line. Also, we have clay, and not much topsoil. We also have a hill that will drain into our yard where the patio will be and was wondering if the amount of base stone/gravel will need o be greater because of this. Not only is there a hill running into where I will have the patio, but the patio will also need to be built into a small slope, ~6" from left to right. I've attached some pics. I'm most concerned about the base, and having all the jills makes me wonder if extra drainage is required around the patio......

    Another question is about building stone/paver stairs. I'm not sure the best way to design these. Are they typically built on top of the patio block/paver, meaning build the patio first then build the steps on top, or is it best to build the step base and steps first, then build the patio up to the stairs? Also, if anyone can point me to a good resource for building the steps, I'd appreciate it. The only decent one I found was from Allen Block, but it was more a promo video than an actual step by step. I'm wanting to do steps, half-moon shaped. A small landing right out of the door, then a step down, then step onto the patio. Right now the ground is 20" below the door.

    Thanks to anyone for responses, I'm sure I'll have a lot more questions as I design and build the patio. I've also posted some photos, so any suggestions are welcome.
  2. brutus35

    brutus35 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I'm also planning on adding some stairs up the hill coming off of the patio, and into another small patio with maybe a firepit....that's if this goes well. :weightlifter:


  3. brutus35

    brutus35 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Also, this is what I had in mind for the shape of the steps, just a little smaller/narrower.

  4. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Your base should be six inches thick or more (unless somebody with experience in your area says different), and does not need to extend below the frost line.
    Your steps should be built first, and the pavers cut to fit against them. You might check the versa-lok or techo-bloc websites for more instruction.
    Drainage should not be a problem as long a your finished patio is higher than that swale in your picture.
    Good luck.
  5. brutus35

    brutus35 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks, also, the house was finished this past December, and I was wondering if a plate compactor is sufficient for compacting the sub-grade if I go over it multiple times, or should I get something more powerful?
  6. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Depending on the depth of the soil that was disturbed, you may need to dig as much as four feet and fill the hole with layers of gravel compacting after each one. New backfil takes years to settle. I probably should have mentioned that in my previous post, but it was getting late and I didn't consider that your house might be new.
    A few years ago I picked up a diagram of how this is done at the ep henry show in NJ. I think you might be able to find a copy on the ep henry website.

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