Large Upcoming Patio Project - Upstate, NY
Hey everyone, I am a long time troll (knowledge type) on this and various other landscaping forums. I am an avid DIYer and with the new house we are currently building in Upstate, NY (Rochester area specifically), I will be tackling my second stone paver patio project.
The first one I built back in 2007 I had paid a company to come out and do the initial excavation (which is a practice I plan on continuing) as the amount of time it takes a bobcat to do the digging and rough grading is money well spent in my opinion and this patio is going to be pushing nearly 900sqft.
My first project was a 20x20 using Brussel block from Unilock. I had a 3ft wall (capped with stones laid at a 90 degree turn) with 4ft pillars. I was pretty happy with the results but this project is larger and the walls will all be curved (yet ending in similar pillars at the entrances).
In researching this (and for lack of proper note taking during my last adventure), I generated a list of questions / recommendations that I would really appreciate if a professional or two could weigh in on, a couple of which are product and zone (northeast) specific.
For starters, I currently plan on sloping 1/8" per foot (1in/foot). This worked well for me in my last project and the old 1in per 4ft would be really noticeable over a nearly 30ft run IMO.
As for the questions / recommendations:
1) I was looking into using AllanBlock for the wall. I know people seem to fall on two sides of the hollow vs solid, but I love the flexability it gives in the curves (which there will be a lot of). If I go with them (3ft wall/4ft pillars) and build the walls into the pillars for strength and glue the coping layer, will the wall be strong enough for the northeast winters?
2) I have two options for the build. I could either build the patio first (curve it in the general shape of the wall) and then build the wall on it near the edge) or build the wall first and cut the patio to the wall. What would you recommend? If I go with a "wall first" design, how did do I need to go in NY with the wall base.
3) In a wall first design, how do I do the excavation? Should I excavate the entire size of the patio + wall + 6-8in (buffer) then trench the wall down even further, lay the first couple of courses for the wall, then put down my base (compact) and then sand for my pavers right up against my first couple of wall courses? In my last project the wall was an after thought so I have a clean slate here and want to do it right.
4) How much base material for Upstate NY? 6in + 1/2in sand? I should have taken better notes on my last project.
5) What is the easiest way to skreed over a 30ft span? Obviously 30ft PVC is out of the question :). I will rent a laser level for the process but is there a "best" direction to work (i.e. start sand in the corner of the house and move diagonally?).
I am sure I will have more questions with any and all answers and opinions provided. Again, thank you for your time, it is greatly appreciated.