After doing some PLANNING of your brick paver project, it is time to PREP & EXCAVATE the area to install your brick paver patio. Mark out the location of your brick paver patio, walkway, or driveway by using marking paint or use the family garden hose to outline your paver project. It is always a good idea to contact MISS DIG in your area to have all utilities, phone, & cable marked before excavating for your paving stone patio.
The tools that will be required for PREPPING your interlocking brick pavers are simple at this step. You will need a wheel barrel, pointed shovel, rake, and some sweat equity. Always remove any sod (grass), mulch, stone, or existing concrete where you will be installing your patio stones. You can strip your sod or concrete out if your paver patio is not that big, but often it is best to rent a power sod cutter or air jack to help in removals. No sense physically burning yourself out in the early stages of this project. Once the area for your brick pavers is prepped, it is time to excavate the area for base material.
EXCAVATING for brick pavers is usually the hardest physical part of any paver project. Most homeowners do not have a skidsteer or tractor to dig out the area to be excavated for a patio, walkway, or paver driveway. This step will require some sweat equity and is important not to be skimped on. MAKE SURE YOU EXCAVATE DEEP ENOUGH TO ALLOW FOR THE PROPER BASE DEPTH to help insure long term performance of your brick pavers. In the earlier posted PLANNING step 1 I detailed how to set your heights. Now, from the top of your brick paver height, you want to excavate down @9" . I determine this measurement from 2.75" of paver thickness, 1" of bedding (screed) course, and average 5" of gravel base. For a brick paver patio or brick paver walkway, 4-5" of gravel base is sufficient if the soil drains well. For brick paver driveways, you will excavate down @13" from the top paver height. Basically you are doubling the gravel base thickness for normal driveway applications. If you experience clay soils, I would add 2-3" of gravel base thickness for patios & walks, and add 4-5" for driveways. It is important to excavate brick paver areas @4" wider along all outside edges so you have base to install the edge restraint on and also give yourself some flexibility in the final layout when installing the brick pavers.
Once these physically challenging steps of PREPPING & EXCAVATING for brick pavers is complete, you will begin to enjoy the "fruits of your labor" as the paver patio begins to evolve. Check back soon for Step 3 : Base Material for Brick Pavers.