Our contractor installed the subgrade under both the driveway and patio sites: compacted crushed angular gravel to a depth of 18 inches under the driveway and 12 inches under the patio. Then it was our turn.
For the driveway, we used Cobble Systems fan pattern in charcoal. The neat thing about Cobble Systems is that the cobbles come strung together in little sheets, so we didn’t have to spend hours arranging our pattern. It was really very easy to use, and I recommend it.
Full disclaimer: I was conveniently “busy at the hospital” with “nursing school” on the day of installation, so Aaron and John had to do all the work. But they got it all done in a single afternoon, so I think it was pretty easy.
The installation involved setting the cobbles in a layer of sand on top of the compact subgrade surface and then going over them with a vibrating plate compactor (rented from our local hardware store). We then used a stiff broom to brush polymeric sand in between the cobbles. The polymeric sand “sets up” once it gets wet, similar to concrete, and is better for preventing weed growth. The polymeric sand had to go down onto dry cobbles on a dry, sunny day. After we meticulously brushed it all off the tops of the cobbles and into the gaps in between, we hosed down the driveway (using the mist setting to avoid blasting the sand out of the cracks) to set up the sand.
The downside to Aaron and John working by themselves is we have no photos of the driveway installation. When I’m around, I use photography as an excuse to shirk my work duties. Photos are a valid justification for laziness, in my opinion.
For the patio, we measured out the dimensions to the nearest brick-length (allowing for a little space between each brick), marked the edges, and installed paver restraint edging along the borders. We then put down a layer of all purpose sand 1 inch thick. To do this, we lay 1-inch PVC pipes on the subgrade, filled in between with sand, and then used a 2×4 to screed it level. We didn’t lay all the sand at once; we laid enough for a few rows of bricks and then used those bricks as a platform from which we could do more work.
Next came the fun part–laying the bricks! Our bricks were all different sizes, which meant digging out sand under some and putting extra sand under others so they would all be level. We pounded them with a rubber mallet to make sure they didn’t wiggle in the sand–if a brick wiggled, we simply lifted it up and added more sand to any low spots. After we laid a few courses, we dumped some sand on top and used a stiff broom to sweep it over the bricks so it would fall in between them. We used loose sand (unlike the polymeric sand in the driveway, which “sets up”), so there is a possibility of sandy feet if we walk barefoot on the patio. But isn’t that the point? Feet are supposed to get dirty from going barefoot outside! We’ll see if I change my opinion about those dirty feet with the coming of warmer weather this spring.
Also, we didn’t use the vibrating plate compactor on the patio for a few reasons. For one, our bricks are old and rather fragile. Secondly, some have text or indentations on the top as part of the character, and we didn’t want to ruin this. The patio is pretty level, but we’ll have to wait to see if not compacting the bricks causes them to shift.