Paver Patio Plan | Concrete Pavers | Madison WI
A lot of advanced planning goes into preparing a site like this for a family friendly paver installation.

Without a carefully thought out paver patio plan a do-it-yourselfer asks for trouble. There are dozens of resources telling you how easy it is to install concrete pavers in Madison WI. But do they provide enough information on what it takes in advance to make it look easy?

Before you buy the decorator pavers draw yourself a blueprint of what you hope to accomplish. The more detail the better – include measurements. Here is a sample of the pre-installation concerns to manage:

  • Elevations – the slope and contour of your property influences the design of your patio. More importantly, it has a direct impact on drainage from the hardscape and the entire yard. Installing a large patio changes the existing drainage. Elevation changes impact water movement. Done wrong runoff can be serious, often leading to water in the basement, etc.
  • Excavation – how much of your existing yard gets dug up to create a level spot for a patio?
  • Compaction – there are two forms of compaction – how will using heavy equipment in the yard compact your soil, and how do you get the sub-grade material firm enough to keep pavers from shifting. The first you have to avoid and the second is a must.
  • Barrier layer – what do you use as a barrier to week growth? Geo-textile fabrics come in various weights. What’s best for your project?
  • Final grading – before you bring in the base materials your site has to be graded. Another key element in proper drainage.

Paver Patio Plan Sets The Stage

Thinking ahead as your formulate your paver patio plan saves time, money and stress. Knowing you’re making a significant change to the property, consider:

  • Legal regulations – what kind of permits and inspections do you need for a paver installation? Where do you get them? Are the building codes all the same in every community in Dane County? Did you know there’s a regulation making it illegal to install a fire pit within 17 feet of a building? Code violations are difficult and costly to fix.
  • Call before you dig – knowing you’ll be excavating for your new patio it’s critical to be aware of all the utilities coming into your home and running through your yard. Identifying underground utilities in advance is not just smart, it’s the law.
  • Soil test – the soil beneath your structure reacts to it. Some soils hold firm for a walkway but not for a driveway or heavy wall. Clay, for example, hardens and pavers easily shift as time goes by.
Concrete Pavers | Marvins Brick Pavers | Madison WI
Where do underground utilities run, how much slope is there, what kind of soil is here and where will rain and melted snow go when the project is done? All questions a professional answers in a detailed paver patio plan.

A backyard featuring a paver patio, retaining walls or fire pit adds a lot to the value of your property. It expands the usefulness of your yard and your ability to enjoy it. All the advantages are lost if the project isn’t done right. Over the years professionals like the craftsmen at Marvin’s Brick Pavers have been called in to correct mistakes and resurrect poorly conceived projects. Installing a hardscape isn’t inexpensive or easy the first time – it’s far more costly to do over.

Common DIY Mistakes Using Concrete Pavers

The lack of knowledge and experience is compounded by homeowners attempting a major project like a patio without the proper tools. Most homeowners don’t know how many tools and how much time it takes. Since concrete pavers have become popular professional installers have seen the same mistakes over and over. The ones they correct most often include:

  • Drainage issues – rain and snow are facts of life in Wisconsin. Getting these elements off the patio and away from the house is critical. Without proper drainage water pools on the patio. In winter it’s ice, the rest of the year it’s a nuisance. Creating just enough slope (in the right direction) is crucial. A slope away from the house of about ¼-inch per foot of patio is a rule of thumb. Creating and measuring the right slope takes training. Using a standard homeowner-style level works, but the pros use a level that’s 5- or 6-feet long.

Drainage throughout the property changes when a significant amount of ground changes. Paying attention to how water moves all over the yard is important as part of your paver patio plan.

  • Poor paver spacing – maintaining even spacing between concrete pavers creates a solid, strong and stable surface. Uneven spacing makes it easier for pavers to shift with seasonal temperature changes. It also gives weeds and dirt a place to hide.
  • Weak edges – paver patios normally shift and wear first at the edges. The interior pavers are protected while edges are vulnerable to wear and damage. Selecting and installing appropriate edging is key to the patio’s lifespan and maintenance demands.
  • Poor base prep – a patio that withstands the rigors of Wisconsin’s winters must have a firm sand base. Applying the right compacting methods and tools. Professionals point out that damp sand levels out easier and quicker than dry sand.
  • Shifting pavers – cutting corners when it comes to filler sand between blocks is a costly error. A generous application of sand keeps then tight. Not only does it keep weeds and dirt out, it holds during the constant freeze/thaw cycle in winter. Rule of thumb: when you think you’ve used enough, use some more!

Paver Patio Plan Should Include Professional Installation

Concrete pavers come in so many sizes, shapes and colors that every patio looks great when it’s first installed. But, if the installer doesn’t do it right problems become increasingly apparent. Attention to all the minute details combined with years of experience, skill and the right tools is what makes professional installation a valuable investment.

Choosing the right professional to plan and installation your project is the first step. Skilled craftsmen not only have the training and proper tools to do the job, they guarantee their work. Contact Marvin Martinez at Martin’s Brick Pavers, 608-630-8855 or email us at for a wide selection of quality concrete pavers and a paver patio plan for your Madison WI home.