Laying a Picture Perfect PatioColin Campbell-Preston
A patio can add a whole new dimension to your back garden, providing a perfect setting for lazy summer snoozes and al fresco dining. But whilst it may be tempting to call out a professional, you could save yourself a few pounds by employing the help of a friend and completing the task yourself.
So here, we guide you through the steps of laying a picture perfect patio.
What You’ll Need
- Graph paper and pencil
- Builder’s square
- Wooden pegs
- Bedding mortar
- Paving slabs
- Spirit level
- Wooden block
- Semi-stiff brush
Planning the Patio
The first step is to decide the exact space the patio will cover, and draw a to-scale plan of your patio on squared graph paper – including all elements such as trees, fences and drains. Carefully lay the plan on the desired area to ensure the measurements are accurate. Leave a gap of 10-15mm between each tile for the mortar – it is important to factor this in at the very start.
Tip – If you don’t want to manually cut out different slab shapes, stick to a simple chessboard design with square tiles
Make sure the surface of the patio is at least 150mm below the damp-proof course of the house. Otherwise rain will bounce off the patio and hit the wall of your house. Furthermore, the patio must be on a very gradual slope away from the house so water drains away.
Marking the Site
Using a builder’s square, wooden pegs and string, transfer the drawn plans to the site of the planned patio – hopefully everything with still fit within the original plans. The marks should be the height of the top of the patio surface – providing an accurate depiction of the design.
It is important to ensure that the marks are level with any existing paving and manhole covers – protecting against the risk of trip hazards, and maintain the slope away from the house.
Preparing the Slabs
If you have planned to make this process as simple as possible, you will have adapted your plans to snugly fit square slabs. If you hadn’t taken that into account, the markers will give you a better indication of the dimensions required. If you can’t source the required slabs, it may be preferable to reconsider your patio design.
Laying the Foundations
First remove any turf, plants or miscellanea from the site of the patio and dig down to a depth of roughly 150mm. Lay a level of hardcore to a depth of about 75mm over the entire area of the patio – evening out any bumps with a rake. When the hardcore has settled and solidified, add a layer of bedding mortar over the entirety of the hardcore.
Laying the Slabs
Now your design can start to come to life. Place the patio slabs as determined by the builder’s string, starting with a corner. Gently press the slab to the correct level, by placing a block of wood atop the slab and hammer softly. Use a spirit level to check that the slab slopes ever so slightly away from the house.
Continue this process, one slab at a time, before doing a final check to ensure they’re all level.
Fill the Gaps
Leave the mortar to dry for 24 hours, before filling the gaps between the slabs with more mortar (using a mixture of four parts building sand and one part cement). Use the edge of a trowel to place the mortar accurately in the gaps. Brush away any excess mortar with a semi-stiff brush and wash with a damp sponge.
This step will help ensure the slabs stay in place and no weeds emerge through the gaps.
Leave the patio to dry and settle for 24 hours before walking over it.
Decorate the Patio
Once the patio is successfully placed, it’s time to use it to its fullest. Whether you wish to use the patio as a spot for a barbeque or an extension to your garden – Capital Gardens stock a huge selection of garden furnishings, plants and much, much more. For an idea of how we can help bring your patio to life, visit our homepage or call us today on 0208 44 2555.