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CoconutPete 02-04-2010 09:41 AM

Paver patio & firepit with a "twist" question.
I have a great space in the back yard which is just begging for a paver patio. Right now it' occupied by ivy and is just sitting there.

The plan is to put in a patio, maybe 12x20. Where the patio will end there used to be a 100+ yr old oak tree. This tree uprooted itself partially in a really bad rainstorm about 4 years ago, as a result there is a rather large "hump" there now. I'm going to do my best to dig & chop the most of it out there, but I'm thinking about building a firepit around the remains.

Something like this:

My question is 2 part.

1: What holds the pavers together in something like this.

2: Any reason I would NOT build something like this where the tree used to be?

concretemasonry 02-04-2010 09:53 AM

You do not hold the individual pavers together. Normally the are placed on a leveled 1" sand setting bed over a compacted base that is sloped to match the desired drainage for the patio. After the pavers are set and a retaining edge is placed some mason's sand put on the patio, everything is vibrated with a walk-behing vibratory plate compactor. The compactor evens out the surface and causes the sand to get between the individual pavers and form an interlock.

This is a suggestion for normal concrete pavers that have no dimension over 11". The Interlocking Concrete Paving Institute (ICPI) was great technical note cover the design and installation of pavers. I think the address is icpi dot org. Interlocking concrete pavers are the most commonly used pavers for sidewalks, patios, driveways and streets.

If you have clay or over-sized "pavers" there other instructions elsewhere.


CoconutPete 02-04-2010 11:01 AM

I'm sorry I think I might have mis-worded that. I meant the pavers that are part of the firepit. Is there anything required to hold them together? It seems fragile just stacked in a "tower" like that.

concretemasonry 02-04-2010 11:25 AM

In that photo the vertical part of the fire pit does not use pavers. Those units appear to be some sort of slit retaining wall blocks that can be stacked. Some of these have protrusion to resist shear. The could also be split concrete block that are glued or laid with a very thin joint. In either case the pit should be lined with fire brick for long term permanence if it used frequently.


Scuba_Dave 02-04-2010 11:30 AM

What tree used to be there, how big ?

Was the entire trunk/root system removed/pulled up?
If not the remaining trunk & roots will rot & everything will sag

CoconutPete 02-04-2010 11:59 AM

Truth is I don't know how bad it is underground. I'll have to just start digging and find out before I start laying pavers.

The tree was pretty big - perhaps 50 -75 feet tall? We've only been in the house since last fall, but the tree uprooted about 4 years ago. From what I can gather from the neighbors a lot of the root system came up w/ the tree but I 'm going to assume not all of it did. I could get lucky and be able to flatten it completely but i'm just trying to plan for the worst.

I'm thinking about something like this:

I guess I just always thought mortar or some other binding agent was used in applications like this.

LandscSolutions 02-04-2010 05:15 PM

Some Installation Tips/Directions
:thumbsup:I'm going to attempt to answer several of your questions pertaining to your fire pit courtyard/sitting wall, and paver patio. The patio was installed first and compacted, it was restrained around the edge of the patio with (I'm guessing) brick paver edging with 10" spikes. Because the curve is pretty tight, I'm hoping they installed the spikes every 8-10" in the provided spacer holes.

They then layed out the bottom course of block for the fire pit and marked a line around the outside of the fire pit block. Then they removed the bottom layer of block and cut the individual bricks. After all cuts were made they were left with a perfect circle. I'm hoping they removed the sand in that area and added another 1/2 - 3/4" of base stone and compacted by hand with a hand compactor. Then, they (hopefully layed in two small pipes for screed rails within the circle and covered with sand and screeded of the sand and removed excess sand.

They then installed the first course of small retaining wall block, making sure to level it from front to back, and side to side. After the 1st course of block was perfectly level then they brushed off the block and ran (2) beads or lines of block adhesive and started installing the 2nd course of block making sure to stagger the joints (possible 1-2 block may have been cut to allow this to happen. This process was completed until the desired courses/height of block had been installed. Then the wrought iron fire pit insert was installed, this is extremely important because the steel fire pit rings keep the r.w. block from getting too hot-for they are not fire proof.

As for installing your firepit and patio area over a former area where a tree once stood-I would be very apprehensive. I would locate it to another area if possible, but if another area is not available thenthis is what I would do for the installation. You could dig it out by hand, but you may not be able to lift and/or move the stump even if you get it dug out. I personally would hire someone with a mini-excavator to come in and excavate the tree stump. The excavator will be able to chase the roots, as well as dig pretty deep if need be. They can also lift a reasonable amount of weight, carry the stump out to the street, and place it in a dump truck, trailer, etc.

Whatever you decide to do to get rid of the stump, do not place the removed soil back in the hole. You will never get it adequately compacted so that after you patio has been installed and you start to get a little rain, it doesn't sink. I would place filter fabric and/or geo-textile in the bottom of the hole (after the existing sub-grade has been compacted) and layer with a 3/4" clean, angular stone or limestone and compact every 3-4". Do not exceed 4" in stone without first compacting, the average plate compactor can handle max. 4".

After you have brought your hole back up to grade with the stone and finished your compaction. Grade the surrounding area, lay another layer of filter fabric and/or geo-textile and commence with installig your layers of stone base for the entire patio, compacting every 3-4" layer. We automatically excavate every patio 9" deep from the top of the finished brick patio elevation. A 9" excavation allows us approx. a 6" depth of compacted 3/4" angular base stone and 1" depth of 2NS Sand. The pavers are generally 2 1/2" tall.

I also recommend you run stringlines at your proposed finished brick elevation and pitch the string if need be. You can buy 2' pieces of re-rod to use as grade stakes at Lowes or Home Depot, and we use an average of 10 to as many as 20 depending on the project. We also try to use recycled concrete that is equivelant to 23A crushed limestone with fines (crushed concrete is recycled and less expensive than the limestone - at least in our area. The crushed concrete will need to have fines in it, this will make for a more stabil patio and you will achieve proper compaction. I also highly recommend that you lightly sprinkle each layer of stone with water, this will also assist in proper compaction. Do not saturate it so that the water is pooling, but get the stone good and wet so that is barely mushy. You would be amazed at how much more compacted your area will become.

If you are starting to think this seems like a lot to do for a simple patio. If you have had any brick paver installers bid your project, this is why the good ones charge the amount that they do. Just like anything in life, if you do not properly prepare your foundation, your project will fail or develop problems over time. Good luck and I hope everyone out there agrees with my directions. I wish you the best with you fire pit/patio project!

CoconutPete 02-05-2010 11:41 AM

Thanks for your detailed fedback - i appreciate it.

I can't wait to get started on this project and I do expect it to be the most labor-intensive thing i've done to this house, making refinishing the hardwood floors look like a walk in the park. Good news is it'll be light out for a while after I get home from work pretty soon so I'll just have at it for as long as it takes.

Luckily I'm able to build the patio in a perfect square which will come right up to where the stump / future firepit is. If it ends up looking like more than I can handle I might just stop at a square patio... time will tell when I dig.

Thanks again.

LandscSolutions 02-05-2010 12:28 PM

One other thing that I did not mention, but is important to add is that (say, for example) This way you are not laying brick close to an unstable edge. Another task that most homeowners do not think about should be completed before you return your compactor. After the edging has been installed, bury the edging with soil around the perimeter of the patio, rake smooth and run the compactor around the outside of the patio. This will assist you while compacting the brick to make sure you got the brick edging pulled tight to the pavers. This will also help you with erosion, if you get any rain before you get the area around the patio re-established with lawn or landscape. If you do not get your patio layed in one day, and rain is in the forecast, make sure you get soil around it and get it compacted as soon as possible. This will help prevent erosion. If I think of anything esle I will add a reply. I wish you well! Marty

LandscSolutions 02-05-2010 12:43 PM

Here is an excellent link for some of the best and most comprhensive directions I have ever seen for installing a brick paver patio or walkway.

Good Luck! I hope you find this useful?


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