If you have ever seen a patio or driveway installed by professionals, you know that it tends to be a messy process! Piles of old grass and dirt are typically hauled out from the construction site before installation begins.

Are you left wondering why so much dirt is removed before pavers are installed?

Professional patio or driveway installation all starts with building the proper base. Let’s learn about what a base is and why it is so important.

What Do You Put Under Pavers When Installing a Patio or Driveway?

The main difference between a professionally installed paver project and an inexperienced paver install is all about what is put under the pavers before installation begins.

In the landscaping industry, we call this the base. The typical base of a professionally installed project, including the pavers, ranges from 4-12 inches, depending on what type of hardscape project you are constructing. Driveways, for example, need a much more sturdy base to support the weight of vehicles.

Let’s look at the layers that make up the base so you can understand why so much old grass or dirt needs to be removed from your property.

  1. Sand/Dirt- The first layer, or the deepest layer, of your patio base is made up of sand and dirt. Sometimes this needs to be brought in to amend soil that will not meet the requirements of a sturdy base. This layer is then compacted with a machine.
  2. Stone- The second and third layers consist of a gravel base. This gravel starts at least 4” of depth and is compacted again.
  3. Bedding Layer- The final layer before pavers is what we call the bedding layer. This is a sand material that is leveled and works as a natural leveler for the pavers that will be installed.
  4. Concrete Pavers- After the above layers have been installed and compacted, it is now time for the pavers to be installed.

Why is a Proper Paver Patio Base Important?

While these extra steps take time, make your yard a mess, and add to the cost of a paver installation, a proper base determines the longevity and success of your project. Patios or driveways with a proper base can help your project withstand the freeze/thaw period we experience here in Northern Michigan and all the traffic from either vehicles or pedestrians.

Nearly every patio problem leads back to an improperly installed base. Here are just a few of the issues that can arise with poor base installation:

  • Uneven or ‘tipped’ pavers
  • Settling or ‘low’ spots in your patio or driveway
  • Drainage issues

How to Choose a Professional Landscaping Company to Install Your Paver Patio or Driveway

Installing your own patio or driveway is not really a DIY project homeowners can tackle. The amount of equipment, time, materials, and expertise it requires lends hardscape projects like paver patios or driveways best left to the professionals. But how do you begin finding a professional you can trust?

  • Start by asking questions- Don’t hesitate to ask the tough questions. Ask specifically about their process when building hardscape projects. Use this article to ask educated questions about the base layers they install before putting pavers on top. Ask about the experience of their hardscape installation teams.

  • Check their qualifications- At minimum, your landscaper should be insured and registered. Landscape companies can have additional qualifications that can help you trust they will do a good job.
    • Look to see if they belong to any of the following associations: Concrete Masonry Hardscapes Association (CMHA), Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA), or the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). These organizations offer training and resources to all their members to keep them up to date with best practices. Companies have to pay a membership fee, so they are likely utilizing the resources offered.
    • The paver companies themselves offer training and certifications as well. These licenses or certifications require hours of workshops and trainings. Check out the about page on a companies website to check for certifications like: Unilock Driveway Base Fundamentals Certifications, Unilock Paving Stone Installation Certifications, or Techo Bloc Professional Certifications. These products, Unilock and Techo Bloc, are industry leaders in producing the most quality concrete pavers on the market. Awarding these certifications put their name on the line, so landscape companies that hold these certifications are likely very well qualified to install your project.
  • Look at Google Reviews and Previous Projects- Before even calling a landscaping company, Google reviews can tell you a whole lot. Positive reviews can tell you what the company tends to excel and negative ones can tell you how they will handle hiccups or mistakes when you hire them. Exploring their portfolio will give you a good idea of what type of projects they can handle. Look for a range of both large and small hardscape projects.  In addition, if a company has won any awards for a project, take note of that. Those awards are highly competitive in the Green Industry, especially national awards.

Choosing to hire a landscape company to install a paver patio for you is a huge investment. You want that investment to be worth it in the end with a beautiful project that stand the test of time. While there are some companies out there doing work without the proper qualifications, taking some time to dig into their websites and asking probing questions during your first meeting can help you ensure you have made a wise decision.

Ready to get started on your paver patio or driveway? Start by filling out our contact form or calling our office. Meet with our landscape architects, choose the solution that is right for your property, and get ready to sit back and relax in your beautiful new outdoor space.

Get started today with a consultation!

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