Inspiring Artscapes

A Contractor's Story – Solving a Soil Issue & Exploring a Smaller Scale Construction Project

Publish by Publié par Sophie Rhéaume on le Feb 28, 2019 10:23:04 AM

Let’s explore hardscape possibilities of a construction project and find the best way to solve common issues together!


As education experts in the landscaping industry, we believe every day is a chance to learn something new. Over the years of working on construction projects, we accumulated a lot of knowledge from our own experiences, but from others as well. Sharing a contractor’s story might provide you with useful insights for your future project. Let’s hear what Tony Zambito from Groupe Zamco had to say.

Tell us about yourself and your profession. How long have you been in the hardscape industry?

I am the third generation in my family to work as a hardscape contractor so I have grown up in the industry. I started working alongside my father and grandfather when I was a kid on summer break from school.

Although at the time I would have loved to stay home and play with my friends like the other kids, I am extremely grateful for this opportunity because it gave me the experience that I would have had to work years to acquire later in life.

I have a tremendous amount of passion and excitement for the hardscape industry and strive to push the boundaries to create a new age in hardscape. I am lucky to have a wonderful wife who is an interior designer which gives us the advantage of approaching a construction project from a different perspective than the norm. Her background in design inspires us to think out of the box in terms of landscaping projects. We mix colours, textures and mediums to build an outdoor living space our clients will be excited to use for years to come.

We strive to create new trends in the industry and we want to inspire other hardscape contractors with our backyard designs and landscape ideas. We believe our construction projects reflect our vision and hope to continue being trend setters in our industry.

How does the project you wish to discuss with us today differs from the others?

So many magazines and catalogues show homes with vast square footage. With land getting more expensive and lot sizes getting smaller, we wanted to explore the hardscape possibilities of a construction project with smaller scale properties.


How long did this project take?

We completed this backyard project in 5 days.

Describe any challenge(s) you may have had throughout the course of this project.

This project was a new construction, so our land was soil and aggregate. We were lucky enough to have a blank canvas to work with, however we had to deal with clay-based soils.

Clay soil can cause many structural issues if the proper steps are not taken when preparing the base for our pavers and structures. We also had heavy rains, making accessibility and maneuverability on site very difficult.


How did you overcome this?

We solved the clay issue by applying the proper procedures to make sure the base for our project was solid. We were installing the pavers in an impermeable application so we excavated 24" below final grade to allow the necessary amount of aggregate to be backfilled for proper compaction.

We spread dolomitic lime on our clay sub-base (5 kg/100 sq ft). Then, we spread a thin layer of ASTM 57 clean stone over the entire surface and ran a compactor over it to work the materials into the clay, hardening the sub-base and initiating the chemical reaction between the dolomitic lime and the clay. Thus amending the soil to allow for a proper sub-base.


Next, we laid out geotextile fabric over the sub-base to avoid cross-contamination of soil and aggregate. We installed 0-2 ½ " crushed stone as our first and second layers of aggregate in 6" lifts with compaction at each step. We then added another layer of geotextile fabric over the 0-2½ " stone to prepare for our next 2 layers of ASTM C2940 crushed stone.

These procedures are time consuming but crucial to the integrity of the project. A beautiful product installed on a poorly built base is worthless to any consumer. As for the rain, we had to use sheets of ply-wood to grant access to our jobsite and let the ground dry up for certain areas.


Given the ground conditions, using machinery equipped with tracks as opposed to wheels definitely makes moving material around much easier. Although the procedures mentioned above raised the cost of the build, we were able to get back to work quickly and completed the project on schedule without losing days do to job-site flooding.

Our Contractor Showcase events present many networking opportunities with members of the landscaping industry.





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