For forming up the concrete, I framed the outline of the pads using 2x6's so that the pads would be thicker and have a little more hefty presence. Using a double 2x6's in between the four pads, we'll eventually fill the gaps with dirt and plant grass. This will require some regrading down the road.
Moving on to the planting bed, the new wall enclosure steps down equally with the steps so they both are extensions on plane with one another. Using coated plywood and 2x4' I created a 6" wide and 18" deep wall form. As this was the end of the first day I didn't make it to bracing and fully leveling the frame. Not bad for a day's work.
The next morning I braced and leveled the wall forms, piled a ton of concrete chunks in and around the base. Then I piled all the soil I dug up from the front walkway pad excavation around the outside base of the formwork. My uncle Ed, the concrete finishing master, stopped by to help me out on the day of the pour. I use a Mini Mix truck company for the concrete, the smaller truck does less damage to the landscape. We started the pouring with the walls on the side.
Next we filled the pad formwork. It was a super hot day so we had to move quick. After filling the forms we had to manually tap the sides with hammers to help fill any voids, then we screeded the concrete level. We then floated a smooth finish, edged the sides, and finally Ed finished the concrete with a rubber float. Ed has done the same hand finish to all the concrete work we've done so it was best left to his artful hand.