Q: What factors impact a price on a project? Why isn't a patio cost standard by size?
A: The main difference I see is the depth at which excavation is done. The deeper you go with the patio's foundation, the stronger the patio will be and resist settling. Proper installation is key, you don't put in 10 inches of base, and tamp once it's all installed either, you must tamp it in layers to maximize compaction. We prefer to tamp in 2 inch lifts.
Time, complexity, and location also impact price. A square patio is quicker to install than a circular patio. A raised patio requires more time and materials than one built without elevation. The more bricks that require cutting also can impact price. If there are multiple colors and sizes, it requires more attention to sticking to a pattern. Also, the further away or limited access to the work site can increase costs.
Each Landscaping company my vary widely on price. How busy they are, how much experience they bring, and how quickly they're able to get the work done. If you have a very low estimate, chances are that landscaper doesn't have many other jobs lined up, they're just getting started and need to build up a portfolio, or the quality of their work isn't as good. If you have other estimates that are super high, it could be the Landscaper has too much work going on, and it's driving his prices up. It could also be that the experience and quality of the job are much better than the competition, or that they are well known in the area allowing them to charge a little bit more.
If you don't feel comfortable with the company or the Landscaper, but the price is attractive, then I would recommend finding someone else to work with that makes you feel more comfortable about the work being performed. As a landscaper, my price also may vary on my interaction with the customer. If I feel it's going to be easy to work with you, I typically lower my estimate a little just to win your business. Get multiple estimates, ask for references or to see some of the completed work, and make an educated decision.
Q: How much work is involved with a patio? Can't I do this work myself?
A: The excavation is one thing homeowners typically overlook. For a normal patio, it's recommended the base be a minimum 4 inches of compacted stone. If you add an inch for the sand bed, and two inches for the normal thickness of a paver, you're removing at least 7 inches of soil. For a 300 sq ft patio, this could equate to removing 7-8 yards of soil or about 16 thousand pounds of dirt! Then you replace that dirt with another 12 thousand pounds of crushed rock, 2 thousand pounds of sand, and 6-8 thousand pounds of pavers. All said and done, you've moved and relocated about 36-40 thousand pounds of material! Imagine how many wheelbarrows you'd need to move that amount of material. Most homeowners don't have means for hauling away or bringing this amount of material in for their project either. It can be done yourself, but be prepared to work very hard for many days.
Our estimates will outline how deep the base will be. We generally excavate 9 inches minimum providing for a 6-7 inch deep gravel base.
Q: How deep do you dig for a retaining wall?
A: It typically depends on the size (height) of the wall. For most walls under 3 feet tall, we excavate anywhere from 8-12 inches down, and 18-24 inches wide. You want to ensure you're excavating at least twice as wide as the width of the retaining wall block being used. Also, it's not uncommon for the first course of block to be below grade, so you really don't start to see the wall until the 2nd course. So the excavated depth may need to be increased to account for that first course.
Curves are important in keeping the wall from falling over for completely vertical walls, but leaning the wall towards what it's retaining is another option. Most Home Depot and Menards retaining wall block is offset so each additional course is leaning back towards what is being retained. Don't forget to use glue when stacking wall block. The glue keeps the wall from settling as much and as quickly than without.
Many inexperienced landscapers don't know how to properly build a retaining wall. I have seen it all too often where a customer chooses someone to build them a wall because the price is attractive, but after 1 or 2 seasons find themselves needing to replace the wall. Walls typically fail when the pressure behind them are greater than wall's ability to hold back that pressure. Don't underestimate the weight of soil when saturated with water, this is called hydrostatic pressure. If you backfill the wall with crushed rock, it helps to drain the soil faster so the weight isn't pushing against the wall for extended periods of time.
Drainage systems need to be installed behind walls as well in order to account for this water pressure. Ensure you're asking the right questions and doing your homework when you're looking to have a retaining wall built. If you are paying to have a retaining wall installed, even one for aesthetics, pay to do it right so it's not wavy within a couple of years.
Q: I thought patios were built on concrete, why use crushed rock?
A: You can build a paver patio on both. One of the advantages of a patio vs poured concrete is when it comes time to settling. Concrete pads crack over time, and the cracks become very visable. Pavers shift and flow with the ground over time. If you adhere pavers to a concrete patio, and the patio cracks below, you'll likely see the same fracture in the paver bricks above. When installing a brick patio on gravel, it's much easier to repair a paver patio that's settled versus a concrete pad that has cracked. I've also done installations over existing patios that have cracked using a floating method. The pavers aren't glued to the concrete patio, but float on a bed of sand just above. This method can be less expensive since we're utilizing the concrete patio as the foundation for the paver patio.
Q: Why should I go with a brick paver patio over a concrete/stamped concrete patio?
A: The initial cost of a paver patio job is typically more expensive than even poured concreted that is colored and stamped to resemble a paver patio. Concrete is self leveling, so the process by which to make the patio slope in the direction you want is a little easier. Also, the installation (labor) and the actual product are easier/cheaper than pavers resulting in a lower cost. There are pros and cons to both. What happens if you crack or stain your paver patio versus cracking or staining your concrete patio? For pavers, you can lift them up, replace them, and not ever know. It's not as easy with concrete. Around pools, concrete is often used because of it's ability to keep your feet cooler. There are pavers out there that are used around pools that also keep your feet cooler, but they are more expensive. When concrete gets wet, a downside is it's typically more slippery than a paver. Lastly, you'll notice in a poured concrete pad of significant size, there are relief cuts. The little cuts in sidewalks separating one pad from another, or in driveways. The same goes for a concrete patio, it's often very obvious where these relief cuts are in your patio since they don't always end up matching up nicely to the pattern of your stamped concrete design.
Q: When is a good time to plant flowers, install sod, or seed your lawn?
A: Typically early in the spring or late summer are the best times. You want the lawn and flowers to have time to root a few weeks before the winter frost comes. You also don't want the scorching summer sun to burn up your grass. I typically water in the morning or late afternoon. This keeps the droplets of water from behaving like a magnifying glass on your grass or flowers.
Have any other questions, you can email Mike at: email@example.com and I'll be sure to update them on my website!