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Two Level Patio with Fire Pit and Steps

Excavation of dirt and raising the lower end.
  We Needed to build up the lower end as that section was on a hillside.  As we removed dirt from the top we layered it and compacted it so that we would have a solid sub-base.  We let the base slope naturally as we would not be building a retaining wall.  Instead we dug into the finished sub-base and inserted cinderblocks to create a foundation on which to lay or base materials.  We set the cinderblocks by driving 3 foot stakes into our sub-base.
  The cinderblocks were then filled and tamped. We covered the cinderblocks with dirt and graded and tamped the entire area.  We checked our level and grade before adding the base material.

Select the images for a larger view.

View of excavation.

Julio driving 3 foot stakes.

First layers of base applied.

  Adding base material and sand.
  The base material was added in layers tamping all the while.  Then we began the main level of the patio.  The main patio was to be higher then the grass and landing level so we added blocks on all the outer edges including the fire pit.  

Base all tamped and sand being applied.

  We then layered more base material inside of the blocks tamping and filling until we had reached a level 1 inch below the tops of the blocks.
We were now ready to add the sand and begin to screed.
  We covered the base material with sand to a depth of 1 inch using metal pipes as guides.  We left the area for the fire pit empty. Later it will receive a small quantity of sand at the bottom to help maintain a clean appearance. 
Once the sand was all filled in we began laying our pavers. 

  Laying the pavers. 
  We began laying the pavers starting at the house and worked our way to the outside edge.  The pavers were selected from different pallets to maintain randomness of coloring throughout the patio.  Also care was given in the pattern being applied.  Laying the inside of the patio is quite rapid - things slow down when you come to the arced edges.  Because we had measured out our patio the sides needed no cutting but the pavers at the arcs all had to be cut.  Once everything was fitting the pavers on the outside edges were glued with concrete adhesive to the underlying blocks.

Pavers being laid.

Finishing the main patio.
  Once the adhesive had set we spread sand all over the patio and using pad tamper we began the setting process.  As we passed the tamper over the pavers the vibration knocked the sand particles down into the spaces between the pavers.  At the same time the pavers were being set into the sand and leveling out.  We added sand and passed the tamper over the pavers three more times before the patio could take no more.  We checked for any low spots removing the pavers in those areas adding sand and then resetting them.

Lower landing ready to be cut.

Working on the lower landing.
  The lower landing is level with the grass and will also be the base for the steps.  We left the existing steps in place and worked around them.  We did this so that the customers could let their pets out and have access to their yard.  The lower landing is held in place by plastic edging around the outside and by base material on the inside.
Finishing the steps.
  We removed the existing steps and back filled with base material. There are three arced steps.  The bottom step arcs onto the main patio from the landing.  Once the blocks making up the pavers were in place we added cinderblocks inside the step area and back filled with more base material.
  On top of this we laid our pavers for the first step. Adding another layer of cinderblocks and backfilling with base material we added another step.  The final step was laid and a final sanding was done over the whole patio.

Blocks to the first step laid out.
Finishing up.
  The patio being finished we needed to bring in some more fill dirt and grade the slope.  Since the patio extended out onto the downside of a hill we needed to bring in a moderate quantity of fill dirt.  Checking the existing grade we tried to match and blend into the hillside keeping in mind that we would also need to run our mowers on this hill.
  Through out the entire process we worked to minimize any construction damage to the surrounding yard and there was little to no damage inflicted anywhere outside of the immediate work area.

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