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How To Level A Yard For A Patio

How To Excavate For A Patio

Part 2 – How To Build a Paver Patio on a Slope

Excavation simply means digging. Use the right tools to make the job as efficient as possible. A garden edger quickly cuts a straight line through sod. A shovel with a curved blade is for digging don’t confuse it with a spade, which has a flat back and is designed to cut the edge of a trench.

To remove sod, break up the surface with a mattock, which looks like a pick. If your patio is large, you might want to use a sod lifter, which has a curved handle and will save you much bending.

The depth you dig depends on the type of patio: 8 to 9 inches for bricks or pavers set on a sand-and-gravel base, 8 to 9 inches for a concrete slab patio, and 11 to 12 inches for bricks or stones set in mortar on a concrete slab.

When excavating, make sure you dig out all roots and organic material, which tend to decay, collapse, and undermine your patio.

  • Step 1Step 1Lay Out the Shape

    Set up batterboards and use masons line to lay out the outline of the patio or walkway. Use powdered chalk to mark the outline.

  • Step 2Step 2Step on the Edger to Cut Straight Into the Sod

    Work your way along the layout lines. To remove wide areas of sod, cut 1-foot strips with the edger. Lift the sod with a shovel or sod remover. Hold the blade at a low angle. Put weight on the top of the tool to cut between the soil and the roots and pry it loose.

    Roll the sod and remove it from the area to be excavated. Put at least some of it in a cool, shady place and use it to patch the lawn when you finish the project.

  • The Best Way To Level A Garden

    The best way to level a garden depends on the gardens design, and how uneven or sloping the space is. You may just want to get rid of lumps and bumps in the lawn so it looks its best, is suitable for sitting or lying out on and so kids can play on it. A flat lawn is easy to mow, and rain will be absorbed evenly, making the grass healthier.

    Alternatively, you may want to construct a patio or deck. If thats the case, youll need to start from a level surface to build your new garden feature.

    Of course, your garden may be a sloping one, leaving you with space you cant easily use. If thats the case levelling is imperative if youre to create space for all sorts of garden activities, and to make tending the plot much more straightforward.

    What Is Included In Land Grading

    A land grading job includes:

    • Measuring the area and establishing a level line or determining the ideal slope
    • Digging and moving dirt to cut down high spots and fill low spots
    • Hauling in and spreading new fill dirt or topsoil
    • Leveling the area or creating the desired slope
    • Compacting and raking the soil

    Also Check: How To Remove Mildew From Patio Furniture Cushions

    Reasons To Regrade A Yard

    Regrading a yard improves drainage, prevents water damage, and creates more usable yard space for a new patio, swimming pool, or play area. Look for these signs that a yard needs regrading:

    • Pooling water on the lawn, hardscapes, or driveways
    • Flooding in the basement or around the foundation
    • Soil erosion
    • Uneven areas of cut grass due to peaks and depressions in the lawn

    Preparing To Level Your Lawn

    Doing It Right: How To Lay a Level Brick Paver Patio ...

    So if your lawn is looking uneven with a few too many dips, help is at hand. Before starting, the lawn will need to be checked thoroughly in advance to determine how much will require levelling and if there are any existing drainage problems. At times, uneven ground can be caused as a result of drainage problems or even damaged water pipes.

    Check for low spots and drainage issues

    If low spots are occurring in locations around water pipes seek professional advice before continuing. If drainage issues are discovered, it is recommended to re-grade the lawn as well as levelling, creating a surface that slopes away from the property to aid drainage and avoid flooding.

    Alternatively an underground drainage system can be fitted using either gravel or flexible drainpipes. Other causes for bumps and hollows can be due to wear and tear, mole damage, drought or frost.

    There are two main methods for levelling a lawn depending on the extent of damage to the area. All low spots across the garden should be checked for depth to help decide which method will work best. Both methods will require the same mixture used when top dressing a lawn.

    This will consist of two parts sand, two parts topsoil and one part compost. These combined will fill out the desired areas whilst improving drainage, with the compost allowing for a nutrient rich soil to be formed.

    Pre-water your lawn for levelling

    When to level your lawn

    Also Check: How To Install A Paver Patio On Uneven Ground

    How Do You Lay Pavers On Uneven Concrete

    Lay the field pavers over concrete as you would on any paver patio. Scrape away the excess sand and cut off the excess landscape fabric with a utility knife. Glue down the last border patio blocks. Let the glue dry for a few hours before you tamp the field pavers and sweep sand across the patio to fill the joints.

    Pitfalls Of Diy Landscaping

    • Being unable to find the right equipment like a mini bulldozer, an excavator, and a Bobcat.
    • Lacking the training to identify problem areas.
    • Damaging underground pipes and wires.
    • Using the wrong soil.

    Even if someone plans to level the yard by themselves, many professionals are still willing to give tips, help people learn, and even rent the proper equipment.

    Hire a Grading or Leveling Professional

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    Prep The Area By Setting A Reference Point

    Using a spike and some string we placed the spice at the area that had the perfect elevation.

    We then ran the string down the length of the tiles we wanted to level, ensuring that the string was level by using a binder clip with a mini level attached to it.

    Running the string down the entire length of the pavers and patio area that we wanted to level provided a visual reference when applying the sand later in the process. This preparation step is a way of streamlining the leveling process.

    Spread Landscape Fabric And Gravel

    DIY How to Lay a Patio

    Double-check your calculations for gravel and sand and arrange for deliveries. Then call the rental store and reserve a gas-powered plate compactor or tamper. This is a heavy beast youll need a trailer or pickup truck and a couple of strong bodies to move it around.

    After compacting the soil with the tamper and before you start filling the hole, roll out the landscape fabric, allowing it to extend at least 6 in. beyond the patio all around. Use spikes to temporarily hold it in place. Then we spread a 2-in. layer of gravel over the top.

    Note: If your soil is soft or soggy, you might have to add more gravel fill to create a stable base. Ask your building inspector or a soil engineer to recommend the right base for you.

    Also Check: Removing Dog Urine From Concrete

    What Is Grading A Yard

    Land grading is the process of leveling the ground or contouring the slope to ensure proper water drainage. Grading often involves moving dirt from the highest areas of the yard to the lowest places to remove a slope.

    • Grading corrects the yard’s slope to drain water away from the home’s foundation.
    • Leveling is a form of grading that creates a smooth, even surface.

    You Didnt Use The Right Paver Edging

    You need a fence to keep your pets from running loose and thats true for your pavers, too.

    Without the right edging to contain your patio, the pavers can shift and separate during time. One sign this is the issue is if the pavers along the edge of your patio are moving away from the rest. You need something around the entire patio tokeep the pavers in place.

    Having a solid edge system starts with the paver base: It needs to be several inches beyond the edge of the pavers. That way, your edging is going into the base and not soil or the sand. You want it to have firm footing.

    Once you have the edging laid where you want it, drive it in with metal spikes to keep it in place.

    Read Also: How Much Rebar Do I Need For A Concrete Slab

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    Snap A Base Line And 2 Perpendicular Lines

    Easier Paver Patio Base That Will Save Your Back

    Snapping chalk lines directly in the sand is the best way to keep your bricks running straight. For the running bond pattern, youll only need a baseline and two lines perpendicular to the baseline, offset by half the width of a brick. Mark the rough center and snap a line at right angles using this method:

  • Measure out an equal distance from the center and make two more marks .
  • Cross two tapes at the same measurement .
  • Snap a chalk line from point D through point A.
  • Then snap a second line half the width of a brick from the first line.
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    Final Finish To The Leveling

    In the final process of leveling the yard, you will need to add the finishing touches to the final surface of the yard. In this case, you can use, spades, snow shovels and rakes. Though using a rake is patience-testing, it makes the slope as even as possible and the leveling itself becomes very even. You may also add thin layer of organically rich soil while doing the final leveling.

    You will need to use the Inclinometer constantly for conforming the elevation. Also, make sure that the leveling is foolproof as once you plant and set the turf, you cannot re-do the surface, you will need to uproot the entire turf again. Hence, make it a point to take your time and keep on adding the finishing touches till you are satisfied and then proceed to plant the turf. Some people also bring in a road-roller for a couple of days to make sure that the yard is finished properly.

    How High Your Patio Should Be

    Your should shoot for your patio to be .5 to 1.5 above grade. Well, what does that mean? Your yard generally has some sort of slope to it, even if it is no slop. A 1% slope is when your yard goes down 1 for every 100 of travel. To be pleasing to the eye you dont want the grade of your lawn to be very different than the patio. We will discuss these details in a little more depth below.

    Patio Height

    Lets get more into the patio height. As stated, .5 1.5 above grade is ideal. In some cases that may not be possible, or if you are going for a specific look like a step up patio or you want to put steps up to your patio you may build it slightly higher. What you need to balance is visual appeal and structural integrity.

    Yup, structural integrity can be diminished if you do not have a sufficient amount of material on the side of your patio. This can lead to cracking of the stones, misalignment of the stones, stone rotation, breaking apart of the polymeric sand used to hold it together and more. If you still want your patio to be tall than you can have it, but you need to make it sturdy in other ways such as a retaining wall, adding a concrete layer on the outside, or making it less than 1 above the ground.

    Patio Slope

    Steep Slopes

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    The Best Tools For Leveling And Grading A Yard

    There are a couple of different approaches to leveling a large yard, or improving grading away from your home.

    You can either:

    • work with smaller walk-behind machines and hand tools for minor yard repairs,
    • rent large equipment like a bobcat or a small excavator to save some time and energy, or
    • hire a contractor to come in and professionally grade and/or level your yard.

    Most people reading this article will probably be going the DIY approach, so these are my recommended tools for leveling a large yard by yourself:

    • Tiller

    Basics On Your Patio Foundation

    Patio pavers installation

    How does this relate to building a patio? it really only affects the process of planning the depth you will dig and the amount of materials you need to fill the hole you just dug. Yes I know, I dont like digging holes just to fill them, but there are some pretty good reasons we do those steps. Below we will talk about how critical your patio foundation is to making it level with your grass.


    How deep to dig beneath your soon to be patio depends on its use. The more weight it is going to bear, the deeper you need to dig because the more base material you will need to compact beneath it to increase the strength of the patio. For example, the average backyard patio only requires 4 5 of paver base material, but a driveway would need upwards of 8 of paver base. This means, unless you plan on parking your car on the back patio you are probably ok with just 4.

    Thats not all yet, you need to add in 1 of sand which provides a compressible base to level the patio pavers on. Lastly you need to add in the height of your pavers, which on average will be between 3 3.5. So to calculate the total depth beneath your patio with a 3 paver, it would look like this.

    4 paver base + 1 sand + 3 paver = 8 deep



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    How To Install A Paver Patio On Uneven Grounds

    Homeowners enjoy the great look that patio paving provides for their lawn. It creates a narrow path, and people want to see what the result may be. But uneven ground can derail the paving effort right from the start. Use a few simple tactics to lay down the patio paving stones on that uneven ground. That will explain how patio paving can take place on the lawn as well. The patio paving stones can then be laid in to place without any hassle. Uneven ground can be managed in a short amount of time. There are unique advantages people will want to consider.

    Cost To Remove A Hill Or Flatten A Sloped Backyard

    Removing a hill or leveling a sloped yard costs $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the yard size, slope degrees, and amount of dirt to move. Removing a steep hill requires heavy equipment. Grading companies with a mini excavator, bobcat, backhoe, or skid-steer charge $100 to $300 per hour for labor.

    Grading contractors use a cut-and-fill technique, removing dirt from high areas to build up low areas. Some projects require additional fill dirt.

    Read Also: How To Remove Mildew From Concrete Patio

    Establish A Slight Slope

    Set up a string line across the center of the patio in the direction you want the water to drain. Tie the stringline to stakes driven at each end of the patio so it stretches in the best drainage direction. Use a line level to adjust the string until it’s level. Then lower one end of the string 1 in. for every 10 ft. of length to establish a sloped reference line. Youll use this string to gauge the depth of the hole as you dig, and to set the slope of the compacted base.

    Fill Ground With Sand/ Gravel

    Laying Pavers for a Backyard Patio

    Sand is a good material commonly used to level paving surfaces. Leveling sand/gravel provides a firm base and creates stability when laying paving blocks.

    Coarse sand is better suited for leveling as opposed to fine sand. An ideal sand composition ranges from 0.5mm to 2.0 mm in size. .

    Some specialists suggest that the ideal depth of sand should be about 1-2 inches. A quick calculation of the dimensions of the patio area coupled with the recommended depth requirements can help you identify the amount of sand needed for the entire project.

    When leveling using sand, you need to pour ideal quantities of sand over the intended surface and spread it out evenly. You can use a compactor to make sure the sand levels out on the ground and becomes firm.

    Adding sand also prevents your paving blocks from shifting from weight stress or after extended durations. The sand provides good drainage during periods of heavy rain that can help keep your patio durable for a considerable time.

    Its vital to level off the sand before installing pavers on your floor. You can use a long metal pole or a straight board to run across the sand top layer and screed off excess sand.

    Make sure to fill in any dips and other indentations on the sand surface before working to lay your patio pavers.

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