Here are the steps to setting up a square 4 inch thick patio with concrete forms. Below these steps you will also find advice on setting up different shaped designs.
Materials you will need:
Using your tape measure, place one stake in each corner where your patio will lay. Use the sledgehammer to pound the stakes in.
Tightly pull the string line around all four stakes and secure by wrapping the string around the final stake. Set the string line's height at the height you want your patio. This string is the guide that will ensure that the forms are straight.
Using your hammer, nail the forms up to the outside of the string line (the string will be on the inside where you pour the concrete). Use more stakes to secure the forms up to the string line so that the concrete will not bow the form out.
You will need to raise the forms off the ground and nail them to the stakes to make sure that they are flush with the string line. Don't worry about the forms being lifted off of the ground. You will build up the ground during the final grade. Here is a picture of what the forms will look like raised up off of the ground and secured with the stakes:
To control the flow of water on your patio, you will need to slope the patio in such a way as to allow for drainage. Drop 1/4 inch per foot on the side your patio will drain off water. For example, for an 8X8 patio, each side is 8 feet. Therefore, drop the string line 2 inches (8 X 1/4 inch) on the side that you want to drain off water.
Check your work. Use the level to make sure all your heights are correct.
Advice on Doing Different Designs:
Here is a picture of a circular sandbox set-up using the above procedure:
Here is a picture of a patio set-up using "S" shaped sides:
After you set-up your concrete forms, the next step in the process is compacting the fill and making a final grade.
Would you rather not do it yourself? If so, and you live in the Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs area, request a quote on your concrete project.