And that's what makes this flexi- ble-base patio installation a pro- level project rather than a DIY job— its sheer scope. Thousands of pounds of dirt and material were moved around the jobsite by a crew of workers with gas-driven construction machinery, and it still took them a few weeks to finish the patio. But you'll see in the pho- tos that the building procedures used on this project are largely the same as what a DIY'er can use to build their own flex-base patio— only applied on a much larger scale.
SITE PREP A patio should be flat (with a slight pitch for drainage), which means the ground beneath it should be flat. That's easier said than done when digging in rocky soil that's riddled with roots. Project manager Hamilton Trimm brought in a skid steer with a num- ber of attachments to help on the project. To grade through the tough soil conditions, he equipped a skid steer with a Power Rake attach- ment, which tears through the
ground with spinning spikes. A Trencher attachment for the skid steer also came into play. An underground electrical line had to be relocated during construction. The electrical inspector required it to be buried 12 inches deep. The trencher was used to dig the ditch, which stretched 60-70 feet. The trencher was also used to help dig a drainage ditch that extended from the fire pit of the patio downhill toward the lake. After the patio site is graded flat, a vibrating plate compactor is used to tamp down the soil thoroughly. Proper compaction is absolutely critical to a patio project, and a compactor is used at various phas- es throughout construction—to compact the soil, to compact the gravel base, and finally on top of the patio surface to ensure the pavers are firmly set in the base. BASE LAYER The compacted earth is covered with a base layer of crushed rock. The rock is spread on the site and then firmly compacted. As a general rule, patio pavers require at least 4 inches of compacted crushed stone as a base (for pedestrian use) and up to 8 inches for climates where ice-heaving is a problem. The patio site must be excavated enough to include the depth of the crusher-run gravel