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Having the right tools available to you in your hardscape business is important to keeping your job site running efficiently, safely, and smoothly. Tools are our favorite thing to invest in for our business and our employees. They are also generally more dependable than some employees.
With the labor shortage that there is in many parts of North America, having the right tools can be the most cost-effective replacement for a laborer. Whether you are having difficulty finding the right person for you business or you want to save your own back and knees while saving installation time, there are tools that can really benefit your hardscaping business.
Not only this, but it can save your business time and inevitably money. By investing in these tools for you and your business, you can also show your employees that you are willing to invest in them. This will eventually lead to greater retention of better employees in your business. You will also know that you will be able to depend on these tools more than you could a poor employee.
In this post, we will be featuring several hardscape tools that will make your and your crew’s jobs easier, more efficient, and better for everyone involved in the process. These are tools that you CAN, but SHOULD NOT be living without in your business. There may be some cheaper alternatives that you can start out with that do not offer quite the same functionality.
Professional Hardscape Tools
In a previous post, we discussed the hand tools that you need in your hardscaping business. These were hand tools that you absolutely must have to run your hardscaping business. Things that you cannot necessarily rent and tools that will be necessary on almost every single one of your projects.
In this post, we want to focus on the professional landscaping tools that will replace some of these tools or new tools altogether. These are tools that provide some added functionality or tools that you wish you would have had long ago in your business.
Screeding is the process in which you drag a flat edge along two rods in the ground that have been leveled to grade in order to level the gravel between the two rods. It is the final step in your base preparation of paver patios, walkways, driveways, and retaining walls. With this being such a crucial step in your base preparation, it is important to have the tools at your disposal to make this perfect and for it to be an efficient process.
Retaining Wall Screed Rails
Adjustable Height Screeding Tool
This retaining wall screed bar set up on chains provides a protable solution to creating a bedding layer to lay your retaining wall pieces on top of. This tool makes laying your first course of retaining wall a breeze. To use this tool to create an incredibly efficient system of creating the bedding layer for your wall, you will want to use a rotary laser level to set your bars at the correct heights when screeding.
Set the screed rails on your compacted base along the intended path of the retaining wall and placing the rails perpendicular to the wall. Set the grade of your rails to the correct height, screed your gravel, and move the rails except the last one with the chain attached to continue your screeding.
The Zip Level is the greatest alternative to a rotary laser level. It measures the height of any object based off of a zero point. Simply set the zero level that you are starting at and measure off of that point using the rod to place on to the next point you are measuring to.
This can make your job screeding incredibly easy by setting the bars measuring off of the previous one using this level. The best part of the Zip Level is that you do not need to be in a line of sight. This means that if something is in the way, it is no problem like it would be with a rotary laser level. The Zip Level is incredibly free and versatile when measuring grades.
The most useful thing to screed with is something that does not make you get down on your knees to scrape away at your bedding layer to get it level. Having a screeding rake allows you to have a tool that you can stand while leveling your bedding layer. The length of the rake also allows you to screed a wider area which reduces your screeding time. This specific screeding rake is perfectly designed to drag your bedding layer. It also includes three different length rakes from 3′, 4.5′, and 6′ with an interchangeable handle. This makes for a versatile rake, as well as easy storage and transportation.
Screeding for different height pavers at your border can be a pain. It is time consuming to do this without having to create something on the spot out of wood. Unfortunately, there are a few different heights you can have between pavers on any given job if you are using at least a couple of different pavers. However, there is a tool you can use to screed the new layer of bedding layer to match the exact height of the next paver you are going to lay along your border or in an inlay.
This tool allows you to adjust the height to the specific setting you need to match it to. This makes this tool extremely versatile and allows you to lay a border or inlay that is any different height compared to the surrounding pavers. This will save you time and money on any project where you will be using pavers of different heights for borders and inlays.
A scribe will help you get those markings for your cuts to be perfect. These tools will no doubt step your cutting game up or at least make your cutting life easier. There is nothing else like making your cuts go so much smoother with the right tools in the hands of the right person.
Long Curve Scribe
Needing to cut the caps of a curved wall? Then the tool in the video below is the solution for you to make sure that you are cutting the perfect wedge off of the wall cap to provide you with the right curve. This paver scribe is a compass that allows you to follow the edge of a laid wall cap while marking the cut for the next wall cap.
Cutting in a curved wall cap is simple with this tool. You will start with your first cap that has been laid on your wall. You next wall cap will be placed beside it, but angled where you will want it to curve. This will give you a wedged gap between the two wall caps. You will then set up your compass at the widest gap of the wedge, shortening it to the corner of the wall piece that you will cut with the marker on that same piece. You will then follow the edge of the existing wall cap while marking the piece you will be cutting. You will be left with a wedge marked wall cap that is the inverse of the wedge gap between the two pieces.
This tool can also be used to mark an inlay between the body of a curve and the border or coping units of a pool. Simply set the compass distance from the tooth to the marker as the width of your pavers, put the tooth at the edge of your border stones, and follow the edge of your border while marking the stones in the body of your project. This saves time as we usually place our inlay on top of our existing body pavers, then we draw our line, and then we need to remove those pavers to do our cut.
The paver scribe featured in the video below is the perfect tool for anyone installing a lot of curved walkways and pool patios like this one. This paver marking tool is the perfect solution to a simple concept. If you have a cure set on one side of your walkway or pool patio and you want to match that exact same curve on the opposite side at a specific length, then you will use this tool to mark that exact path.
Simply set the tool the the correct length that you want the curve to be matched, place a marker in the holder, and walk along following the existing curve with the tooth while marking the curve on the opposite side. This give you a consistent curve that follows the existing one and making for a nice and uniform walkway or patio. We do not know how we ever did this any different before this tool
Stone Lifting Devices
In many situations on the job site you are going to wish there was a tool for a certain task. Things as difficult as removing a stone that has already been installed with polymeric sand to things like picking up a stack of pavers, there are tools on the market that will help you complete the job with less effort than you are putting in now.
Paver Lifting Tool
Paver Extractor Tool
Paver Adjustment Tool
Wall and Stone Lifting Clamps
Paving Slab Lifter
Having the tools to make your laborer’s life easier is also important in showing them that you are willing to invest in them as well. It does not look good on you to be the only one using the tools to make your life easier while your laborers are slugging stones by hand. This is where a paver lifter tool will help score you some points with those that are handling the pavers.
These work by simply tipping a stack of stones over slightly, slipping in the bottom plate of this tool underneath them, and lifting up on the handle which then applies pressure on the top of the pavers and trapping them in place to allow for easy and secure movement. Not only is this a better way for you to move smaller pavers around with ease, but it also speeds things up allowing you to use two of these at once without needing to balance pavers with your hands.
If you have a project that has a broken stone after installing the polymeric sand or maybe a client that has a few broken stones that need to be replaced throughout their project, you will find how incredibly difficult it is to get a single stone out. This is the interlock doing what it is supposed to do. However, there is a tool that will make your life easier in removing these stones one-by-one.
To use this tool, you simply set the size on the clamp, place the teeth in the joints of the stone that you want to remove, use a mallet to hammer the teeth into the joints, and then lift up on the handle jiggling the tool back and forth to remove the paver from its place.
What do you use to adjust those pavers that are just not lining up correctly with your string line? Getting the right hand tool to adjust those lines is difficult. Having a flat edge with enough leverage to push several pavers while also having a mallet available to hit those stubborn pieces into place is available all in one tool with this one.
Clamps are huge in making your job site run more efficiently. Especially when you have the right equipment to compliment it and when you have massive pieces to move that otherwise not be moved by manpower. Adjustable clamps allow you to lift wall products, steps, and other natural stone products into place. These are a real saver of labor and the perfect solution to placing heavy objects to where you need them to be. They come in all different shapes and sizes to meet your needs.
If you need a tool that will lift larger sized pavers into place, similar to the paver extractor, there is a tool for lifting paving slabs. This one works very similar to the paver extractor, it is just a little bit bigger in size. Set the length on the lifter based on the size of stone you are lifting and place the teeth on the sides of the stone while lifting up on the handle to exert pressure on the stone from both sides and take it to where you are laying it. Also available is a larger two-man slab lifter that allows you to pick up even larger pieces of concrete slabs.
The best compaction involves water and time. These two elements provide the best compaction around things like pools. Especially when the alternative is using a compactor over top of the plumbing and potentially cracking it. The aqua compactor allows you to get deep and inject water to allow for natural settling. It is the perfect alternative to using a heavy and forceful plate compactor running over important plumbing or other lines that are sensitive.
Bonus Hardscape Tool
This tool is perfect to pull out a sample of soil from a job site that you are quoting without destroying a portion of your potential customer’s lawn. Think about your customer having a few different contractors coming to quote their project. Each of these contractors may want to pull a sample of their soil to know what they are going to be working with during their excavation and base preparation. Sandy subsoil will be easier to excavate and prepare whereas clay subsoil will involve more work.
If each of these contractors come and pull out their shovel to grab a sample of the soil, the customer is going to have several noticeable holes in their yard. However, with this tool the sample that you pull out will be unnoticeable and will be much less intrusive. It also shows that you are more professional and prepared than other contractors that they called. Having the right tools during the consultation process is important for landing a job.
This tool provides a great cross section of the soil that you will be working with and how deep their top soil is. This can also be important when working with a product like a synthetic base where you only need to excavate about 4″. In some cases this 4″ is not enough to get down to native subsoil and you may still be in topsoil. You should not prepare your base on top of topsoil and you should always get down to that subsoil. In these cases you should not quote a synthetic base and you should plan for a full excavation. This is why you need to take a sample of the soil before you quote a project. This is why you need this tool.
We hope that this post has helped you think of some new ways that you can make your projects run more efficiently while saving your back and knees. These are tools that are the perfect way to reduce the headaches that you may face on a job site and tools that we stand behind.
There is nothing better for yourself, your foremen, and your employees than having the right tools at their disposal to be able to complete the tasks that they need to complete in order to produce the highest quality of work for your business.
Have you used any of these tools in your business before? What tools have you used and what are your thoughts? What tools are you excited about purchasing for your business? Leave a comment below!