bdonkersgoed

Techo-Bloc Wall Stones -- Embedment Depth?

Bryan
28 days ago

Hi everyone!


I'm looking to build a wall and seating to surround a firepit using Techo-Bloc Brandon Wall Stones and Techo-Block Borealis Wall Stones for the seating. For a "Freestanding Wall", the Techo-Bloc Instructions (pg 127) says that the wall should be embedded by 6", but I'm not sure if the wall is considered "freestanding" in my configuration with the corners? My original plan was to simply lay the stones on the same HPB bed as the surrounding paver patio (such that the wall stone would be embedded by the thickness of the pavers, 60MM or 2.40"). Is this sufficient, or do I need to somehow trench the area for the wall/bench stones so that their HPB surface is about 4" lower than the HPB surface for the surrounding pavers? I believe that the Brandon Wall and the Borealis Seating would be considered separate structures since they aren't connected in any way.




Thanks!

Comments (43)

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    28 days ago

    The wall would be considered freestanding and you need to sink the blocks 6", not just 2+.

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
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  • Bryan
    Original Author
    28 days ago

    Thanks Yardvark -- you're helpful as always!


    My original plan was to use Brandon wall stones as the seating (i.e. creating a "box" that would be covered in coping). That plan would have connected the wall and the seating such that the embedment wasn't required. Now that I'm using separate Brandon and Borealis wall stones (not connected to eachother), it looks like I'll have a more complicated base preparation, but that's OK! :-)


    Here's my plan for the excavation that considers the embedment (in imperial and metric):




    A few questions:


    1.) Does my excavation/embedment plan see to make sense? Am I overlooking anything?


    2.) The Techo-Bloc instructions aren't clear about how to level the wall stones -- they simply say that you need a "pad composed of 0-3/4" crushed stone with a minimum thickness of 6 inches".
    I believe it would be difficult to level the wall stones direclty on the gravel base, so I assume that I need a 1" layer of HPB (or some other kind of leveling layer) on top of the compacted gravel?


    3.) Should the Borealis be embedded the same as the Brandon (as I've shown in the drawing)?


    Thanks!!

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    28 days ago

    House seems to reduce the resolution which makes it difficult to see -- here are links to higher-resolution images:


    Embedment (Imperial)


    Embedment (Metric)

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    28 days ago

    In terms of my plan, is this how I should tackle it?


    1.) Excavate the entire area (both the patio and the wall/seating area) down to 10"


    2.) Trench the wall area down to 16"


    3.) Compact the native soil


    4.) Lay ladscaper's fabric (geotextile) in the trench and patio area


    5.) Fill the entire excavated area with 3/4" gravel (compacted in 2" increments) until the trench compacted pad is 9" deep (and the surrounding patio compacted pad is ~3" deep)


    6.) Create a 1" HPB layer for the walls/seating


    7.) Build the walls/seating


    8.) Fill the remained excavated patio area with 3/4" gravel (compacted in 2" increments) until the patio compacted pad is 6.5" deep


    9.) Create a 1" HPB layer for the pavers


    10.) Lay the pavers

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    27 days ago

    In general, this looks good to me, but you're building in a frigid climate foreign to me and asking brand specific questions. Maybe one of the other pros who's familiar with cold climate construction will jump in and offer some advice. (For Florida, what you're doing would be substantial overkill except for commercial work.)

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Thanks @Yardvaark!


    I had a chat with an engineer at Techo-Bloc today and he suggested an embedment and excavation plan that was much more simple than what I had previously drawn. Here's my revised plan based on his description (and he said that the implied ~4.3" embedment should be fine):






    Embedment Plan v2 (Imperial) -- Higher-Resolution


    Embedment Plan v2 (Metric) -- Higher-Resolution


    He said that the wall stones are installed directly on the compacted gravel base, and I suppose this aligns with their online instructions -- but doesn't this mean that it would be really difficult to level the wall stones?


    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    26 days ago

    An engineer at Tech-Bloc trumps me. You would be able to get gravel fairly well/tight in plane. The blocks are not going to be tamped down into a setting bed as one would do for pavers. They'll be set on an already tamped bed. A sparse smount of fine material to accommodate very minor discrepencies of surface would be OK as long as it is not thick and is tamped hard.

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Thanks for the clarification! I guess the plan is much simpler and should be sufficient (especially since the Techo-Bloc engineer is from Montréal which gets even worse weather than Ontario!). I'll start staking out my perimeter in preparation for the excavation :-)


    In the documentation I read online, it says that the excavation slope should mirror the slope of the finished pavers (e.g. 1/4" per foot), but I'm not sure why that would be critical? I thought the slope would only be critical in the compacted gravel and leveling bed surface?

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    26 days ago

    If the excavation slope and slope of finished pavers are in sync/matching, then the layers between these parallel planes are uniform in thickness. At least, I think that is the point being made.

    I'm sure this project would end up looking very nice; its modern design looks smart, and I can tell by the precision of your excellent drawings and careful use of terminology that that every bit of attention possible will be paid to the smallest detail. So I bring this up not to say there is something wrong with this direction, but merely to ask if you have pondered how using it will be. Will there be cushions? And storage for them? Sitting on hard masonry in a cold climate could have its issues if they are not considered ahead of time. Your thinking is probably way ahead of my question, but just checking.

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    21 days ago

    Been working 16-hr days and haven’t had a chance to make progress this week 🙁

    Thanks for the clarification — that’s what I thought about the slope!

    Thanks for bringing up the question of cushions! It’s something I’ve thought about before and I have someone who can make custom cushions to fit the final dimensions if needed. I’ll probably try it without cushions for a bit first — my sister has a stone seating Fire pit setup and it’s never been a problem (although it would admittedly be more comfortable with cushions). Although Canada is a cold climate, it gets pretty hot in the seasons when you’d actually want to sit outside 🙂 But definitely not as nice as Florida haha!

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    This weekend I finally had time to mark out my perimeter and skim off some of the top surface. It's nice to see some pregress, but it was so hot here -- not a good weekend for digging my super rocky soil! After I skim off the top I'll properly mark out my elevations to get the depth/slope required in each location.



    My temporary soil box seems to be holding up well. I'm going to have a lot of dirt by the time I'm done!



    One question -- the builder seems to have built up the to concrete patio that was under my deck (see the pictures below). Do I need to remove all of the extra dirt ramping up to the patio (so that it doesn't erode onto my new paver patio)? I started with this:



    But I've already removed a bit of the ramp-up on one side:



    It would definitely add to the quanty of dirt I need to remove, but if it's necessary then I'll just have to do it!


    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    12 days ago

    I don't understand the question. You might need to reference it in relationship to the plan, and the plan to the concrete. By just looking at pictures, I wouldn't know what is supposed to go where.

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Sorry about that! I didn't realize that my plan wasn't in this thread! Here's a copy of my plan that I marked up that hopefully explain it better:




    The blue square shows where the old concrete slab was under my deck. The slab is about 1ft thick above grade. In the red, it shows how the builder used earth to build a pretty aggressive slope up to the slab (so that there isn't a step). I'm excavating the area in purple for the new patio, which means that I'm excavating a portion of the buildup/ramp to the slab (i.e. where the purple intersects the red); however, I'm not really sure what to do with the the remaining unexcavated portion in the red square. I'm guessing that I need to excavate back down to grade level to prevent problems with erosion/runoff? Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    12 days ago

    What I'm unsure about is the finish elevations of the various components. I take it that there is a gap between the existing concrete slab and the paver field that you are building now ...? When finished, what fills this gap? What is the elevation difference between the slab and the paver field? Will the slab remain as is in the finished product, or does it get covered? A cross-section sketch of the finished product, through pavers and concrete, may help explain. Call me if you need a quick answer as I will be gone most of day.


    John


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  • Bryan
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thanks @Yardvaark -- I guess this is tricky to describe :P


    What I'm unsure about is the finish elevations of the various components. I take it that there is a gap between the existing concrete slab and the paver field that you are building now ...?
    When finished, what fills this gap?


    The brown-orange-yellow surfaces in my plan represent the deck (to be built) and stairs. The gap between the existing concrete slab and the paver patio will be covered with my deck and stairs.


    What is the elevation difference between the slab and the paver field?


    It's too bright outside for my laser level to work, but I can check when it gets dark. By eye, I think the surface of the concrete slab is about 12" higher than the surface of the paver patio to be built.


    Will the slab remain as is in the finished product, or does it get covered?


    I'm just going to build my raised cedar deck over the concrete slab (and leave the concrete slab hidden below).


    A cross-section sketch of the finished product, through pavers and concrete, may help explain.


    I've tried my best with MS paint below -- hopefully the picture is worth a thousand words :) I'm trying to determine if I need to level off the portion in red text.




    Thanks!!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    The answer: YES!!! Does not need to be perfect, though. (Picture totally worth a thousand words. Scratched on a napkin would have been fine, too.)

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  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    11 days ago

    BTW, have you tried sprinkling good the area to be dug the day before? If the soil is very dry it may help. Won't do much to help with rocks though. :-(

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  • Bryan
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    Ok, thanks! I guess I have some more dirt to move 😂 I think I’m going to fill my temporary bin, as well as the driveway in front and beside by the time I’m done! The bin holds about 13 yards and I’m close to filling it already!

    Another question — I’m thinking about doing artificial turf in the green space that’s left of my back yard. Is there a reason why I couldn’t build the base for the artificial turf on top of my grass (without really digging except to remove the grass)? This would then gain me some relative depth to my patio (such that I can save a few inches of digging to for the 10in depth required for the patio)?

    Thanks!

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    My yard is more “mining” than “digging” haha! But it’s happened to rain a bit the day before I’ve been shoveling 👍

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    10 days ago
    last modified: 10 days ago

    You would need to remove organic matter for the base for the artificial turf. It is basically like installing a paver patio. I'm not sure to what depth though for your area. You'd need to rely on mfg. specs. for that.

    I feel for you on the "mining"! Wouldn't it be nice to come across a gold nugget or two for your troubles! :-)

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    10 days ago

    Thanks! I've emailed the artificial turf manufacturer to see what's required, but from their general online guidelines it sounds like a 3" compacted gravel base is required. If I skim off the dead organic surface of my lawn and then add a 3" compacted gravel layer, then I think this would gain me ~2" relative to my patio (such that I'd have 2" less digging required for the patio). It seems like it would be efficient to tackle the artificial turf project now while I'm already hauling away dirt, hauling in 3/4" stone, renting a compactor for my patio, and just making a mess in general :-)


    I wish I found some gold back there -- it's hard digging in my yard! My hand is so sore that it's hard to clench my fist :P

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    10 days ago

    You're illustrating why having a plan is helpful ... that the next job might just as well be incorporated as part of this one in order to make the process more efficient.

    When I lived in the Atlanta, Ga. area (near Stone Mountain) it was IMPOSSIBLE to dig any hole without hit some, or many rocks. So frustrating!!! In Florida, the yard is pretty much just dirty sand, so it is like digging in soft butter. You can stick the spade a good way into the ground without even pushing on it with your foot! I love it! Hopefully, you will recover completely from your landscape project once it's over and you are sipping wine in front of the fire :-)

  • emmarene9
    8 days ago

    Bryan, we like to see photos of completed projects.

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Thanks Yardvaark!

    I spent some more time calling the turf manufacturer and then at the landscaping supplier yesterday to ask lots of questions (it was too hot to work anyways!), and it seems like my plan with the artificial turf (raising the rest of the yard) should work 👍 There are a few challenges that I’ll need to figure out with slopes but it should be manageable. I thought I had a solid plan going in, but it seems like my plan is changing a bit haha!

    The biggest challenge I have is the slope to remove water from my Firepit area (to prevent it from getting trapped by the wall. It sounds like after the wall is installed, I’ll have to do some creative sloping within the seating area to shed water in the opposite direction towards the concrete patio (and this might be difficult with the 48” plank pavers I intended on using, so I might have to switch that to something else).

    I’m really jealous of your FL butter soil! But I think I’m through the worst of it now. I’ve already hauled out 12 yards of dirt/rock. I’ll take elevation measurements after skimming off my grass to see how much more excavating I need to do in the patio area to get to 10” depth.

    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    8 days ago

    Seems like you will have to drain firepit area something like this ...


    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    Thanks Yardvaark! From what the landscaping supply person described, the sloping within the firepit could be done by some "fine tuning" with some extra gravel once the walls are set. I would just need to add and hand tamp a bit of gravel to get the new slope. The way that you've drawn it matches what the landscape supply drew for me :) Based on this drawing, I don't think I should have a problem laying 30"x5" slab pavers in the firepit area with that slope.


    Yesterday I pulled out all of my weeds by skimming off the organic layer -- it actually looks better as dirt than weeds :P And this way I can more properly measure my elevations.



    Before digging out the weeds, I had roughly determined my elevations (where 0" is my highest point). I'll get more precise measurements tonight or tomorrow night when my laser is visible.




    When I install the artificial grass, it will have a 3" to 4" Compacted Gravel base according to their specs. What's odd is that the colour brochure shows a 1.5" to 2.0" of chips/dust, but then the instructions say that you should avoid using it:




    I was hoping to put the gravel base for the turf directly on the dirt, which gains me 3" to 4" of elevation relative to the patio area. To keep it simple, I was only going to install turf in the large open area, and then do rocks between the patio & fence and between the patio & house (marked in the drawing).


    A few questions:


    1.) In order to maintain the additional 3" to 4" elevation throughout my yard relative to the patio, I guess I'd need to install the 3" to 4" compacted gravel even in the areas where I'm just doing rocks?


    2.) If I add compacted gravel between the patio and the fence, should I slope it down fairly aggressively to the fence (so that I don't have the fence boards buried in 3" to 4" of compacted gravel)?


    3.) Do you have any tips on how I should measure the elevations? Should I just measure the elevation at a number of random positions throughout my yard?


    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    6 days ago

    the "random" elevation measurements would be corners, ends-of walls, that type thing.

    Hard for me to evaluate grade as we don't know grades of surrounding structures. But the slope from +0 to -5 in only 14'-1" seems a bit much, especially since the adjacent firepit is draining in the opposite direction. I would be looking to achieve something more like a 3" drop in that run. (This is not to say that 5" is "evil." It's just a bit much.)

    For question #1, are you talking about where you'd use "rocks" for mulch? You would not need compacted gravel under them. You'd grade with soil and add the rock mulch layer over the top. (Not sure I'm understanding.)

    You would not want the bottom of fence buried by any rock. Not sure what an "aggressive" pitch is though.

    If you are having to make some slopes that are too great or pitch paved areas too much for comfort, it may be that you should be incorporating a step(s) somewhere in order that the finished grades seem friendlier. It's best to do a grading plan up front to make sure that grades work out as desired.

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Thanks again!


    FYI, the grass manufacturer said that the diagram is correct, and that I need 3" of compacted gravel and then 2" of limestone. I guess the advantage of this is that is should raise the surface of my grass to about 2" above the compacted gravel, which should match reasonably close to my pavers.


    I agree that the slope from the concrete patio to the fence does seem pretty large (i.e. about 0.35" per foot). I've heard that I should target between 0.25" to 0.50" per foot, so I guess it is at least within the tolerance?


    For Q1, I was referring to the areas where artificial turf will not be installed. If I'm building up my yard for the artificial turf by about 5" (rather than excavating) then the finished surface of my patio and turf would be elevated by ~5" relative to everything else (unless I also compact gravel into those non-turf and non-patio areas). That's why I thought I could pack 3" of gravel into the ~4FT width between my patio and the fence, sloping it it down aggressively at 0.75"/ft so that the fence isn't buried?


    Agreed -- I definitely need to figure out my grading :) Do you think the slopes of my paved surfaces would be tolerable without any steps requried? I'd like to avoid steps if possible. My fatehr is coming tonight with his laser level so we can take more precise elevation measurements with the grass and everything gone. FYI, I got a copy of my elevation drawing from the city:


    Since it's in metric, I modified it to show the relative elevation changes from a specific point :)


    What's odd is that the drawing shows a much more gradual slope from the concrete patio to the fence than what I measured. Most of the water is supposed to drain towards the swale at the rear of the property. Perhaps the ground has changed in the 20 years since the house was built?


    Thanks again, I really appreciate how helpful you are! :-)

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 days ago

    "... the slope from the concrete patio to the fence does seem pretty large (i.e. about 0.35" per foot)." For lawn that is a gentle slope ... only 3% grade.

    Back to Q1 ... it would be a lot easier for me to understand what you're asking if you put your intentions in the form of a simple cross section sketch ... just a quickie scratch off. I don't understand why you'd want a layer of compacted gravel below a layer of rock mulch (presuming that's what it would be.) The surface grade of gravel mulch is going to be whatever you deem is necessary to work with the fence. Why would you need anything below the gravel mulch layer other than a fabric separator and subsoil? I guess you might be thinking to use tamped gravel to adjust subsoil grade and I'm saying just use subsoil/fill dirt ... thinking you'll have some laying around from your excavation anyway, rather than purchasing gravel.

    The spot elevations are meters instead of feet? That would be a sure headache for old school, non-bicomputational American. :-) what is making your project grades hard to evaluate is that they are spot elevations of a scale different than the site plan showing relative elevation differences. Maybe after you get new spot elevations of the yard, you'd combine the project plan with the site plan (no color/shading, planting, etc. ... just hardscape) and show relative elevations using a common scale ... since this is what you'd need for a grading plan anyway.

    I doubt your ground has changed much in 20 years since no one built a pool or something major.

    Bryan, you must be an engineer ...?, as no "average Joe" is going to be so precise and make such nice drawings!

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    Thanks again!


    My father came over last night and we staked out and marked the corners (when the laser shows well in the dark). He's coming back this evening to mark out with mason's string. We'll put together a sketch of what I'm trying to accomplish -- for some reason, my brain doesn't wrap around elevations well haha! I'll also try to map out the spot elevations on my landscaping plan to understand how I should grade.


    I think you've identified something that I was misunderstanding. I though I would need compacted gravel in the stone-mulch area in order to contain the base for my patio. I didn't think I was able to simply pack dirt into those areas instead -- and I definitely have a surplus of dirt!! :P If the patio is raised 3" to meet the artificial turf at the rear, could I grade the dirt next to the fence at about 1" per foot so that the fence isn't buried in dirt?


    Canada is a weird mix of imperial and metric. Most trades (and everyday people) still work in imperial, but engineers in metric. I work in both -- but metric is much easier because you don't have to do the mental math for fractions! Speaking with the Techo-Bloc engineer was interesting because he kept switching between imperial and metric, sometimes in the same sentence haha!


    I'm not an engineer, but an actuary (basically, mathematician/statician who sets rates for auto/home insurance companies). Attention to detail is pretty critical in my field, since even the smallest error error can have millions of dollars of impact on a $1 billion portfolio! I like to be prepared, and I don't want to mess it up and end up with water in my basement or an angry neighbour :-)


    Thanks!!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 days ago

    So apparently actuaries can draw well ... amazing!

    I think this is what we're talking about along the fence ...


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  • Bryan
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    I can't do artisitic drawings to save my life, but 2D scaled drawings I can handle haha!


    Thanks for the drawing, that really helps! I didn't realize that the edge restraints (into the 8" excess compacted gravel border surrounding my patio) would be sufficient to contain the pavers! I previously thought that I'd require compacted gravel where you're showing gravel mulch -- your method looks much more manageable! It also looks like it's acceptable to have a fairly aggressive slope between the patio and the fence which is good! I'll try to put my grading plan together with my Dad tonight :-)


    I inadvertently tested the slope in part of my yard by accidentally leaving the garden hose wide open all night, and I'm on metered water :( It definitely drains toward the swale there haha!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    4 days ago

    LOL on watering the whole neighborhood!!!

    If you go with standard plastic edge restraint, they are spiked to the compacted base/ground with min. 8" spikes. While a little more time consuming, I still use old school concrete bead edge restraint. (Not that I am doing any more pavers if I can help it.)

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    My water bill is going to be scary this month :(


    I think the plastic edge restraints should work for me -- I don't have the concrete know-how to do that kind of fancy stuff :P


    My Dad came but he was pretty tired from working in the sun all day, and we were both stratching our heads trying to figure out how to slope everything. I think we were both overtired so he's going to come back Thursday morning :P


    I did get more precise elevations at the patio corners though, and the slope towards the fence isn't as aggressive as I had originally thought:



    We were having difficulty trying to find slopes that would allow me to have rock mulch between the patio and house, rock mulch between the patio and fence, and artificial turf in the yard (which includes a compacted gravel base that raises the rear yard by 3"). Do you happen to have a sample of a grading plan (or a link to a sample) that I could emulate?


    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    If you only had a pool the hose could have been filling! :-)

    Part of the difficulty in figuring out the patio & deck elevations is that you need a complete picture of existing elevations first. I suggest that for the time being, ignore all the proposed elevations (for which I've added +'s in red.) Instead, collect spot elevations for existing points (that are shown with +'s in black.) One thing I would do at the onset, is to change the base spot elevation +0.0 to the LOWEST point in the yard so that all other spot elevations will read as positive instead of negative. (I'm not sure I placed the example spot elevation 0.0' at the right place ... but you can fix it.)

    Mark out a construction line at 10' intervals (That's the closest we'll come to using metric. :-) Use the line to create a 10' x 10' square grid across the yard. You don't paint the lines on the ground, you paint only the intersections with a +. The easiest way to mark it out is with upside-down marking paint. (If you don't have a long-handled spray wand for holding the paint, I'd suggest getting one, as it is an indispensable tool for many things landscape, and perfect for what you're doing here. I use it to figure out bed shapes, to visualize construction footprints on the ground -- to see if I really want something like 'that,' or a different size or location -- and I use it to shape plant beds for maintenance. If I have a groundcover bleeding into the lawn, I'll spray a line on it to represent the limit of its leading edge, and then take a spade and cut the line off, leaving the groundcover with a nice edge and cleared back from the lawn. Whenever I build something or maintain the yard, I'm ALWAYS using it.) Anyway, you can use it for this, too.) Make a + on the ground at every 10' until you end up with a grid like the following. (It doesn't matter what corner of the yard you start the grid at. When you meet the opposite side lot line or structure, you'll take a spot elevation where only one of the grid lines meets it. Basically, you'll end up taking spot elevations at every 10' of perimeter and every 10' across the yard. Mark the elevation reading near the + on the plan. (No arrows.) You are just doing the BLACK +, not red. Red is calculated later. BTW, if you have a black and white line base drawing with no color or shading on it, that would be better to use for a grading plan. And have it large enough that I can read your spot elevations.



    [So you know, the step that follows this is interpolation ... finding where on the grid, based on the spot elevations, that a given grade line (such as every 6" of elevation) would be located. Once they're located, a connect the dots topographical plan is created. And all the information is then present to determine what heights to set the structures. One can explore the effect a structure's elevation has on the surrounding grade, and move things up and down accordingly, such that surfaces will function as intended and drain properly.]

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    4 days ago

    I'm questioning the red circled area. We may have talked about this before and I've forgotten. It seems like it is a hallway of sorts behind the couch. I'm wondering if there are specific reasons that justify it, or if it is more the result of being a "leftover" space, by default. If it's a clear and intentional walking space, it seems to me that it'd be much better off finished with artificial turf, as opposed to rock mulch. The term "rock mulch" you got from me because I initially though you may be including some planting along the fence. But planting would kill the idea of a hallway for pedestrians. If it is to be a hallway, then you'd not want rock mulch but artificial turf or a granular paving. (I think of rock mulch as roughly uniform 1" gravel that covers the space of a planting bed. But that would be uncomfortable to walk on and suggests that plants will occupy some of the space. I think of granular paving as relatively fine pieces 3/8" and smaller down to dust, that packs tight and hard, with no plants sharing the space. If the space is a hallway, the latter would work better. If it's a planting space, the former would work better.

    But I'm also questioning if the couch should be backed up with solid planting (no hallway), or moved closer to the fence, opening pedestrian space at its opposite side, next to steps, as it seems very tight there. The bottom line ... once the structure is built and being used, will there be thoughts that improvements could have been made if certain things were slightly rearranged ...? Or is it already as good as it can be?

    Could you add photos taken straight-on of both doors? Include some surrounding and landing space.

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    3 days ago

    Wow, thanks so much! That's a very detailed explanation, and I can pretty easily figure out the spot dimensions using the laser level -- I wouldn't even need stakes, I'd just have to mark the ground (and I already have the ground spray paint) :-) The interpolation makes a lot of sense too.


    I've run out of time to mark the ground today before dark, but I'll do it soon and draw it all up!


    Thanks so much!!! I can't imagine how well you must treat your clients if your provide this level of help to random strangers on the Internet!

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    2 days ago

    Oh crap, I didn't realize that you had wrote a second comment yesterday regarding the space behind the couch/seating area! It's too dark to take pictures now, but I definitely can tomorrow!


    The area behind the couch was meant to be a walkway, and I intended to use stones that are comfortable to walk on (I misused your gravel mulch term haha!), and perhaps stepping stones as well. However, since I partially excavated my patio, I can now see that the people who installed my fence a month ago didn't run it square to the property line -- the fence is on the property line near the house, but runs off onto my side by about 12" at the rear :( Because the fence isn't square to the patio, I can't put any larger square stepping stones in the hallway :(


    It was somewhat intentional where I placed the firepit and seating. I kind of wanted it closer to the deck so that people sitting at the patio table on the deck could easily talk with people at the firepit, and so that people could also sit on the deck stairs near the firepit if needed for overflow. I was also trying to keep some clearance to allow for small machinery to get into the back if ever needed (without driving on the patio). I was thinking that I would have a hallway with black rock and white stepping stones, which would then become a rock-mulch bed with plantings along the fenceline when into the artificial turf area. I would then have a same-width bed and plantings on the opposite fenceline (where the neighbour now installed a wrought iron fence). Part of the reasons for the rock mulch beds is twofold:


    1.) Aritifical turf comes in 15ft rolls, so if I keep the turfed area to about 30 ft wide, then I would save a lot on turf (and the install would be easy)


    2.) I wouldn't have to install turf right up to fences (which seems tricky with how low the fence is to the ground). My neighobour installed turf up to their other side fence and I really don't like the look (since they ran decking board along the base, parallel to the ground, for weed control or something which looks really bad IMO).


    I had my underground gas lines run yesterday, and it's going to the centre of the firepit in my existing design. It's thick 3/4" pipe (not super flexible) so I don't think I'd be able to move the pit much at this point even if I wanted to (other than maybe a few inches) :-( I also put in an order for a new A/C so that I can move the unit out of my back yard and into the side yard :-)


    I've marked out a grid on my lawn (at least, most of it) and I'll try to take all of the elevations and draw it up soon! It's been a busy couple of days!


    Thanks!

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    2 days ago

    Here is a picutre of the patio door. I just realized that you might have thought that my livingroom window (which I marked in my plan drawing) was a patio door instead. All those pieces that I marked in the original drawing at the livingroom window (above grade), egress windows, and the current AC unit.




    I also took a pic so that you can see how my new fence was installed off-square -- I think I lose over 12" of property width at the rear :(




    One other quick question -- now that my gas line is installed, should I bury it in dirt, or should I wait for the A-gravel and fill it with compacted gravel instead?




    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    2 days ago

    I would bury gas line in dirt.

    BTW, I am retired. And you are not a random stranger on the Internet. We met last year. :-)

  • Bryan
    Original Author
    yesterday

    If I bury the gas line in dirt, should I get a hand tamper and tamp it down? I thought that using dirt could risk the ground settling/sinking after my paver patio is installed? :S


    That's true! You've helped me on multiple projects :-) If you're retired, is your profile picture of your son or something? You don't look like someone who's in the retirement age bracket -- I thought you were early 40s!


    So hopefully what I've done below is kind of what you were looking for!


    1.) I created a 5FT x 5FT grid (for some extra precision if needed) by driving a 6" spike into each intersection and painting it for visibility


    2.) I then used my laser level and a flashlight in the middle of the night to take all of my spot elevations in metric (since it's a lot easier to be precise :P). Side Note: I'm pretty sure my police officer rear neighbour thought someone was trying to break into my house, because at one point I saw a flashlight in his yard but then I made it clear I owned the home by quickly going into my patio door and turning the lights on :P


    3.) I calculated all of the relative elevations compared to the lowest point in my swale


    4.) I converted all of the relative elevations back to imperial for my American friends :P


    So the result is what you see below! A few notes:

    • Black text aligns with the grid that is drawn
    • Red text are "special" spot elevations that you requested (or are off the grid)
    • The partially-excavated area is shaded blue, and the concrete slab (that will be beneath my new deck) is shaded grey
    • There is still a pretty aggressive downward slope to the left of the concrete slab that I leveled off a bit (but it's extra tough because of the combination of rocks and cedar tree roots!). If I can leave some slope under my new deck that would be ideal :-)
    • Seeing my elevations (FFS 63.6" to the patio), I'm beginning to think that I messed up by assuming that only three stairs down to the patio would be required? :S
    • The artificial turf requires a 3" compacted gravel base (so I think the finished surface of the turf gravel can be in the same plane as the finished surface of the patio gravel). I would then put ~2" of crushed limestone on top of the turf gravel, which should bring the finished surface of the turf close to the finished surface of the paver patio



    Hopefully this is what you were looking for? What's depressing is that is seems like I still have a long way to go with the digging/excavation, and my dirt bin is already full :P I'm reluctant to dig more than my "skim depth" until I know how far I actually have to dig to achieve a 9" excavation, but it's supposed to rain this weekend anyways :P


    One other question -- my new A/C needs to be installed on the ground where I trenched for the gas line, and the sales rep thought I could have issues with the ground settling/sinking under the A/C unit's patio stone if I simply filled the hole with dirt again. Do you think I should tamp gravel into the trench where the A/C will be installed (near the hosta plant)?




    Thanks again, you've been tons of help!! I can't believe how much advice the professionals give on Houzz!! :-)

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    It's a picture my son just gave me. (Better than what I could get now ... have been looking grouchy since 2010. :-)

    Nice to have neighbors that will look out for you.

    Yes, tamp the dirt under & around the gas line. If I was doing this small amount, like at home, I would grab a 4x4x8 post that happened to be lying around and hammer the dirt in with that. Or use a steel tamper if available. I would not fill the trench with gravel. The AC will be fine if you tamp the dirt firmly.

    You should be fine to leave some slope under the deck as long as you pare it away from where it would wash onto the pavers.

    I think you might be trying to overthink coordinating base-layers of construction. For grading purposes, you only need to be concerned with the surface. When you build, you'll excavate whatever is needed for that particular portion of the build.

    The spot elevation plan looks good. I probably won't have time to ponder it much this weekend but will try to take a look by Monday. The red spot elevations are on the concrete patio, or surrounding it along the base? If they are off of it at the base, could you measure how much higher the corners are and jot those spot elevations onto the plan?

    Bryan thanked Yardvaark
  • Bryan
    Original Author
    17 hours ago

    Thanks!


    I can't imagine that you're ever grouchy haha!


    For the A/C I'll just tamp the dirt into the trench really good as you suggest. I'll just go out and buy a hand tamper since I'll likely need one for fine tuning the fire pit area later anyways :-)


    For the gas line trench for the fire pit, would you suggest using gravel there (since I'll have pavers being installed over top)? I also have some "craters" from where the old deck's concrete piers used to be. For those, I dug down about a foot and then knocked them off with a sledge hammer (so that a portion of the concrete pier is still in the ground filling the hole). For the craters, should I use compacted gravel to fill?


    I'm trying to give consideration to the base-layers now because I won't excavate for the artificial turf (i.e. I'll be raising the turf by 3" instead). This way I should save 3" of excavating for the turf, and 3" of excavating for the patio :-) My thought was that one I get to the gravel stage, I'll be compacting gravel into both the patio and the turf area at the same time, creating one consistent plane on top of the compacted gravel. Hopefully this is OK?


    No worries about looking at the elevation map later! :-) I spent all day today (when it wasn't raining) trying to plant shrubs in the rear -- it's so much work to dig those holes in my rocky soil! I still have another 1/2 day of planting to do, and then I'll fill the trench at the side of my house. Since I haven't skimmed out much from the patio area, I think I should be fine to excavate another 2" before the grading is figured out?


    The red spot elevations are surrounding the patio along the base. Now that it's dark I was able to go out and get the elevations of at the end of the concrete slab and marked it in the new image below :-) But the slab will be completely under my new deck anyways:



    Thanks!!

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