A patio can be a valuable multi-purpose garden feature, ideal for placing furniture, relaxing with guests or lighting up a barbecue. Patios are versatile, low-maintenance and more-than-capable of boosting the value of your property
Of course, like any garden feature worth investing in, a good patio should be installed by an experienced professional. This will usually be a landscaper, builder or bricklayer. You may also want to consider having your patio installed as part of a larger garden design project. It could be the perfect final feature on a new and beautifully landscaped garden!
If you do not have much experience with landscaping or garden design, our advice is to leave everything to a professional. Chances are, any money you save from doing the work yourself will be a false economy, especially if you are opting for a more elaborate design.
With that in mind, here is what you need to know about laying a patio!
Lay your foundation
The foundation for your patio will need to be at least 150 mm deep (or 150 mm below your damp proof course if you are planning to install it right beside your property). Depending on the composition of the soil around your home, this could require heavier digging equipment than you have at your disposal, so you may want to consider hiring a professional firm
When planning your patio, you will need to 1cm of fall per 60cm of width. This is simply to ensure your patio has enough drainage.
The foundation base
Most of the time, a patio foundation will be made up of a concrete mix with six parts all-in-one ballast and one part cement. You will want to cover the area to a depth of around 75 mm, and after that you will simply need to level it out – a shovel can be ideal for this, or if you have a spare piece of wood laying around you could even press it down over the foundation with your boots.
Getting your mortar ready
Next comes the job of getting your mortar ready – this will support your patio slabs, so be careful!
To get the mortar ready you will want to mix six parts sharp sand with one part cement. Add enough water to dampen the mixture into something workable, but not so much that it turns runny.
Time to lay and pave
When laying your slabs, priority one will be to make sure that they are properly aligned. You can do this by setting up taut string lines in advance. Just like tiling a floor or wall, you will want to start off in a corner.
When spreading the mortar, you will want to cover an area slightly larger than your next slab, while still high enough that you can properly level it by tapping down on the flag. You can use a rubber hammer for this, but don’t hit it too hard! Go in a diagonal pattern until each slab is properly levelled. As you might be able to expect, a spirit level will be a handy tool for this!
Once you have covered the entire area for your new patio, leave it for around 24 hours. Avoid walking on it during this time, as this could ruin your levelling work.
Time to make another mortar mix! This one should be three parts soft building sand and one part cement. Add the water slowly to avoid making it wet and sloppy. If you want it to be easier to work the mortar, add some plasticiser to the mix.
Slowly trowel your mortar into the joints between your patio slabs. You can use a pointing bar to smooth it down if necessary, but avoid letting too much of it settle on the surface of your slabs. Any excess mortar can be scraped off, ideally once it has had a few hours to harden.
Once you have given the mortar enough time to harden, all that should be left is some residue to sweet up.
Congratulations, your patio is complete!