First, we decided on our space taking into account that we wanted the flower beds to flow seamlessly from the patio. We dug down our area between 6-8 inches depending on how far it needed to be to be level... sort of!
When we finished digging down, we filled the hole back up with 3 inches of sand in order to make a solid base for the pavers.
Then we started laying the pavers. I started at the high side of the space and leveled each paver according to the previous one. I worked out in angles to keep it as level as possible. This was the most time consuming part. Only one person could really work on it at a time to preserve the level-ness.
Once the outside edges were done, we could start with the flower beds. I wanted it to be smooth on top and graduated on the bottom, this way it seems more solid to me. That also meant we needed to dig out a pathway for the bottom row to stay level. We did this same process on the flower bed that the previous owner had done, but they had used large boulders as the retaining wall. We also added in a small veggie garden to grow some tomatoes and jalapeno peppers - guacamole anyone?!