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Before starting any excavation project, contact local utility companies to identify gas and water lines. Using shovels, wheelbarrows and good old-fashioned muscle, begin hauling out dirt and debris.
Once dug to the right depth throughout the courtyard, fill the area up again. Start by spreading roughly two inches of crushed concrete evenly over the soil. The crushed concrete is an aggregate.
Lay out the conduit poles about two feet apart (Image 1). Since you will not be able to walk on the sand once it is screeded, work in small sections (Image 2).
Lay the pavers down with the rough surface facing upward. This will give the courtyard more of a natural stone look. Place a straight edge along the length of the pavers just laid. By tapping gently with a rubber mallet, you are able to keep the pavers nice and flat.
Continue screeding the sand bed one section at a time before laying the next area of pavers. Once laid, the pavers provide an excellent area to work without upsetting the newly screeded sand bed. Continue screeding and laying pavers, leaving the area for the fountain open.
Position four cinderblocks where the fountain base will sit, making sure they are level. These foundation blocks will help distribute the weight of the fountain and prevent uneven sinking or wobbling. Using a hammer and cold chisel, score the pavers along the line. If there are large areas where pavers need to be cut to size, a more modern technique can be used with a diamond blade wet saw.
Add a small DIY restraining wall along the flowerbeds burring the pavers in an upright position. This is an inexpensive, effective and attractive way to keep dirt and water from spilling over into the courtyard.
After placing the fountain on its new foundation, add a row of pavers to serve as a small retaining wall for the plants.
Making sure to fill the spaces in between each paver, spread masonry sand across the entire surface. Leaving surplus sand across the top of the pavers helps cushion the surface when you use the plate compactor. The vibration of the plate compactor also helps to fill the joints in between pavers.
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