This is what I started with, notice that the height of the sliders are 21" higher than the ground level, this is the starting point. You need to remove the top soil and sod to get to solid pretty much undisturbed earth. This will be where you will want to start your foundation.
Step 1: The Patio Project
This is what I built , did it completely from start to finish a few years ago , still looking great.
Step 2: Preparing the Base
Here you have removed the topsoil,at this point you will need to drag this back to the outskirts of your projected patio area,you will use this soil and sod to back fill your patio. My patio measured 25'X21' approx 525 sq feet, to start with. As I designed it I ended up with a little over 600' sq feet. I decided as you will see in the next few photos that I made radius wall corners instead of the boring rectangular patio.
Step 3: Creating the Base
Here I have removed the top soil and sod and put it off to one side. You will use this for banking around your patio,sorry I don't have complete pictures of the complete base preparation , at the time I never expected to post anything like this. Basically all that was done here was to drop crush run gravel and tamp in place,note that the base at this point is pitched approximately 1/4" per foot, 1/8" would have been plenty.This gives me about 5.25" pitch in 21' like I said before 1/8" would have been fine around 2 3/4" over the 21' , the length 25' I kept level.I dropped crush run gravel ,raked it out across the area using around a depth of 2" and then tamped it using a tamper.I continued this process to get to the point that I was ready to install my perimeter wall base.Again, sorry no pictures showing this but depending on your particular terrain start your wall base so that you can get relatively level wall ,you will be burying block in the ground to get it flat.My goal was to not have more than 1 to 1/2 block under ground. I continued this to the point that I had a complete perimeter built that would hold my walls.
Step 4: Basic Layout
I decided I wanted a fire pit so I drove a pin into the base and using a string and a can of red paint I walked a circle .I used twine to lay out the area as a rectangle so I can use this to locate my firepit and make it centered .Not shown here but I dug up the interior perimeter approximately 12" from the walls and installed drainage tile(4" perforated plastic drainage pipe) purchased from a local hardware store.I did this because I wanted to make sure that when it rained or snowed, the water would be carried away under the patio and would not freeze and expand or worse mover the patio base blocks around.Preperation is the key to a nice long lasting floating patio in my opinion.I continued by building the walls to a sitting height,because there were more that 3 rows of stacked block I wanted to ensure it would be safe so if someone sat on the wall or some child decide to walk the wall it would be sturdy so I purchased landscape structural adhesive and glued each row.
Ok so here you can see that the patio floor is installed and the fire pit is located and built,nothing much more to say here.I also capped the walls with some of the block from the floor.
Step 6: Steps
I built these steps using wall block and some bull nose block so not to have sharp edges to scrape your feet or legs on. Note that there are 2 steps and a landing, here in my local it you have 3 steps you are required to install a railing,I did not want to spoil the look using a railing. My work around was to create enough area on the toup landing so it was considered a landing and not a step. I researched my local codes and found that I required at least 2 sq feety to be a landing and not a step,I had that and more.
Step 7: Pillars
Well I wanted an entrance so I built pillars as my entrance way,during the layout of the walls I buried 3/4' electrical PVC so I could have lights, not shown here. You could just as easily used landscape Solar butI wanted 12v lighting .I used RV bulbs, 2 lamp post fixtures and ran 12 from my landscape lighting to attaint that.
Step 8: Completed
Here it is completed ,with a few bushes and my lights installed. Hope someone likes this project enough to try it. it was not hard to do ,it was laborious for sure but as I started this project I got quote and decide I could do it for much less. I had a quote for a few thousand to prepare the base,and get it ready for block. I think it was about $3000.00.Rent the equipment and get it done for around $600.00. I also had another quote for stamped concrete, no walls,no steps $6000.00 and another $2000 for steps. $4500 for walls and then the cost of the block depending on what you wanted was anywhere from $5.00 to $9.00 and up per block.That adds up very fast, so that was no less than $15000.00 not including the fire pit , electric light,pillars or wall cap with a small allowance for block.I think I have around $6000.00 in this complete with some very nice tumble Roman block.