Laying a curved edge - Building Patios

Even though bricks and pavers are rectangular and tape measures are straight, your patio can have curves and angles.

After you’ve laid a patio, you can use a handheld portable masonry saw to shape the edges.

Before laying the patio, however, lay out the curve on the ground using one of the techniques described below.

Lay the patio as you normally would, setting the bricks right up to or just past the layout line. Cut the edge to shape and install the edge restraints as the final step.

Options for laying out curves

PVC pipe is a low-tech tool. Hold the center of the pipe over the spot on the ground that will be the center of the curve. Have two helpers grab the ends and flex the pipe until it reaches the ends of the curve. It won't necessarily be a perfect arc, but it will be a smooth curve that connects the critical points along the edge of the patio.

A garden hose is the perfect tool to form curves. Lay the hose on the ground in whatever shape you like, keeping the curves gentle. The smallest curve a drysaw can cut is on about a 4-foot radius. Pick several key spots in the curve and measure their distance from each of the straight edges. You'll use the measurements later to re-create the curve.

1 Install edge restraints on two adjoining straight sides.

The curve may be the focal point, but the work begins on the straight sides. After you excavate for the patio and fill and level the foundation, put in edge restraints along two adjoining straight sides. Check that they're square using the 3-4-5 triangle method.

2 Lay out the curve (one method). Lay out the curve with a compass made of mason's line, a landscape spike, and a squeeze bottle of powdered chalk. Using the compass will give you a perfect arc-each point on the curve will be the same distance from the center of the patio.

Options. Other methods require you to mark the ground in a separate step. You can sprinkle chalk or flour along the pipe or hose to mark the ground. Gardeners like to lower the pH of the ground by marking it with lime. You can also buy marker spray paint, which comes in a can designed to be held upside down. It works well, but expect to get some on the hose.

3 Lay the pavers. Start in a corner of the patio and lay pavers as you ordinarily would. Snap a few reference lines across the surface before you begin so you know if the pavers are staying in a straight line.

4 Continue past the edge. Don't try to cut the pavers to match the curve. Lay pavers so they either reach the layout or go just past it, as the pattern dictates. In a couple of steps, you will cut the curve while the pavers are on the ground.

5 Lay out the curve again. Your work has covered up the layout line, which you'll need to cut the curve. Lay out the curve the way you did before and mark it in pencil, which gives you a more distinct cut line.

6 Spray with lacquer. Spray a clear lacquer over the layout line so it won't rub off before you finish cutting. The lacquer will wear off with use and when you compact the pavers into the sand bed.

7 Cut with a drysaw. Rent a drysaw with a diamond blade. If the saw has a hose connection for running water to cool the blade, don't use it. Run the saw dry so the water and paver residue don't stain the surface. The saw creates a lot of dust, so wear safety glasses and a mask. Avoid working when the wind will blow the dust through house windows or onto cars.

8 Install flexible restraint. After you cut the curve, put edge restraints around it immediately. Get flexible restraints and bend them to the shape of the curve, one short section at a time.

9 Spread sand and compact. Spread sand across the surface of the pavers and compact it with a power tamper to fill the spaces between the pavers.

Including a fire pit or decorative opening - Building Patios

Materials: Batterboards and mason's line, powdered chalk, tape, spray point, gravel, bedding sand, mason's sand, landscape fabric, interlocking pavers, edging

Tools: Tape measure, line level or water level, plumb bob, straightedge, spade, shovel, garden rake, rubber mallet, power tamper, level, broom, 3-pound sledgehammer, plywood-ond-2x4 screed, paver splitter, wetsow or drysaw, work gloves, safety goggles, dust mask

A Detached patios offer secluded spots for quiet moments and can take advantage of views that may be different from the house. The addition of a fire ring makes this detached soft-set paver patio at least a three-season gathering place. Plantings around the edges could be added to create an opening, and a paver or gravel path could create access to the space from the house or other area.

The opening in this detached patio is for a center fire ring, but openings in patios can serve a number of functions and can be placed wherever you choose to put them. Consider adding flower boxes or low shrubbery in the corners or enclosing a tree to make it part of the patio space.

You’ll need to know some special techniques for creating openings. Patio construction with a central opening such as this one starts at the opening and is laid out toward the edges. Edge restraints at the opening help keep the pavers in a straight line, but no restraints are in place along the edge of the patio at this point. They will be added when the patio is finished and trimmed. Ensuring that the pavers come out in the right spots and in straight lines requires special attention to layout. If it seems as if you are forever adjusting layout lines, taking them out, and then putting them back, it’s because you are. However, if you aren’t systematic about your layout, you may make a mistake-often one that can be fixed only by starting over. Working methodically, measuring carefully, and putting in accurate layout lines pay off.

No matter how you plan it, when you put down the last paver, the edges of the patio will be ragged. Trim them with a drysaw, then put in the edge restraints.

Lay out the edges of the patio. Lay out the edges of the patio with batterboards and mason's line as you ordinarily would. Double check that opposite sides are parallel and that the corners meet at 90 degrees. This will probably mean adjusting and moving lines several times until the opening is square.

2 Transfer the lines to the ground. Sprinkle powdered chalk, lime, flour, or sand along the lines marking the edges of the patio.

Lay out the opening, too, if it doesn't already exist. Excavate for the patio, digging an opening extending about a foot past the layout lines in each direction. Remove soil right up to the opening. Compact the soil with a power tamper and put down landscape fabric. Build up a 4-inch compacted gravel bed.

3 Put in a sand bed and screed it level. Put a 1 1/2- to 2-inch sand bed on top of the gravel. Temporarily put a couple of boards under the layout lines. Measure down at several points and shim as needed until they are the same distance below the line. Guide a notched board, or screed, across them to smooth the sand.

4 Stretch a line along one side of the opening in the center of the patio. Determine the edges of the opening. If the patio is against a house or other structure, make the distance between the opening and house a multiple of the paver length to minimize cutting. The length and width of the opening also should be a multiple of the paver length. Set batterboards beyond the edges of the patio and stretch a line between them along one edge of the interior opening.

5 Stretch a perpendicular line.

Put in a second set of batterboards. Stretch a line between them that is perpendicular to the first and runs along the edge of the opening.

6 Check for square. If the opening isn't square, you'll have odd-shape spaces that a paver won't fill. Check the layout with a 3-4-5 triangle: Put a piece of tape 3 feet from where the lines cross along one line and another piece of tape 4 feet from where the lines cross on the other line. The layout is square if the distance between the pieces of tape is 5 feet. If not, slide the appropriate line along the batterboards until it is.

Stretch parallel lines. Stretch lines over the remaining sides of the opening. Check that each is parallel with the line on the opposite side and double-check that they are square.

Mark the corners. Drop a plumb bob from the point where the lines meet at one corner of the patio. Mark the spot on the ground with a nail through a piece of paper for visibility. Repeat in each corner. Then drop a plumb bob from the lines marking the edge of the opening and mark where the lines meet the edges of the patio.

Put edge restraints for the interior opening, following the lines you snapped. The upright face of the edging should be closest to the outside of the patio.

Anchor the edging as directed by the manufacturer. For now don't put any edge restraints along the edge of the patio.

Set up a guideline. Laying I the pavers begins in the middle of this patio, where only a short edge restraint is in place to guide you. Stretch a line to keep the first row straight. Run it along the edge of the opening to the nails at the edge of the patio and stake it in place.

9 Snap lines. Snap a chalkline between nails on opposite corners of the patio. (Dry sand won't mark well, so you may want to mist the entire patio with a hose before you start your layout. If you still can't see the lines, stretch mason's line between the nails as a guide.) Snap lines marking all four edges of the patio and the opening. Remove the layout lines.

1 Start laying at the opening. Lay pavers along the edge of the opening, aligning the ends of the pavers with the ends of the opening. Continue laying a row of pavers, following the line in one direction. When you reach the line marking the edge of the patio, lay the paver so that it either just meets the line or goes past it, as the pattern dictates. Repeat in the other direction.

Lay from the opening to the edge of the patio.

Once the first row is in place, lay one next to it. Lay row by row until you reach the outer edge of the patio. Knee pads make the job more comfortable.

Lay the other side. Go to the opposite side of the opening. Start laying pavers at the opening, aligning the ends of the pavers with the ends of the opening. Lay pavers in this section of the patio the same way you did on the opposite side of the patio.

Cut the edges. Snap lines I to mark the edges of the patio Spray the lines with clear lacquer so they stay put as you work. Cut along the lines with a drysaw.

Install the edging. Put the edging tight against the pavers and fasten it as directed by the edging manufacturer.

Bed the pavers. Sweep sand over the patio and compact it into the joints, repeating until the joints are full.

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