The landscapers did not excavate using a machine like I thought they would. Two guys came and dug it by hand with shovels. (I could have even done this to save on costs...I'm a young guy in my 20s. Lesson learned). For the patio parts, the landscapers went down about 6-7 inches (near the front door). If you remember at the front of this thread, I had already dug down 12inches where the HPB was...all along the manhole cover area.
-The landscapers did not dig too deep on the garden bed area. Maybe 3 inches. They then roto tilled the dirt, added triple mix soil and then planted. (on different days). [I was VERY surprised at this development. I thought they would be digging all the way down...6-7 inches here to because it was thick heavy clay soil. And when it rains it doesn't drain well....I was expecting fresh loamy black soil being put in there which is a dream to work with. When I mentioned this to the yard 'warden'....I asked him: "Hey how come you're not digging all the way down there like on the walkway area?" He said: "Because it doesn't need it." I said: "Since you're already digging the walkway area down all the way..wouldn't it make sense to just dig on the planting bed side just the same amount?" He said: "No, I've been doing this for 15 years. If that was the right way to do it, believe me I would do it..but it's not."
I thought the warden's response was a little rude. He didn't really give me a real reason why the planting bed area should not be dug all the way down. I am guessing it's because you don't want to disturb the eco zone of the soil and that it might help the new plants that will be planted to be planted in soil that has been there for a while. Is this theory correct?
For the patio installation, the landscapers did not use any screening sand. I had tons and tons of HPB (high performance bedding...otherwise known as crushed aggregate...VERY good for drainage) and they used that and redistributed it to the other parts of the walkway and at the front near the front street where I had not dug previously. The yard warden installed the pavers on top of the HPB directly. No sand. I think I prefer it this way since HPB (high performance bedding) is excellent for drainage...and screening sand would encourage ants). I am guessing it would be harder to install the pavers this way. The warden worked pretty hard...he used a rubber mallet and would slam the pavers to get them to fit one by one. This was a long process..he would grab some HPB from the surrounding areas...level it with a slope, and then bang the paver to fit the one below it and then moved up in the random modular design which I had wanted.
I also expressed to the warden that I was VERY concerned about water run off and I wanted a nice slope. The interesting thing is, he installed the pavers starting from the street corner and then worked his way to the front door. I thought this was backward...I thought it made sense to work from the front door and then down to the street. But he maintained an excellent slope. I checked the patio with a 12" level after he left, and the bubble was definitely tilted almost toward one corner.
And by the end of it, they did not charge me the design fee.