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LandscapingPatio

Brick patio

By March 21st, 2024No Comments

Paving a patio
You can use ordinary bricks for a patio, laying them in the same way as described for a path (see pages 16-19), but it’s better to use clay pavers if you want the effect of bricks without the extra work involved in mortaring them. We show you how to lay a patio or drive with clay pavers on pages 24-25.
However, concrete paving slabs are a more popular choice for a patio or a large paved sitting area. As the picture on page 23 shows, paving slabs don’t have to be boring, especially if you soften them with plants or mix them with other materials.

Preparing the base
There are many ways to lay paving slabs, but whichever method you choose you’ll need to pre- pare the ground thoroughly if you want to avoid an uneven finish later.
If the area is currently lawn, simply remove the top 6 in (15 cm) of grass, and don’t loosen the compacted soil under- neath. But if the ground has been culti- vated recently and is loose, compact it after you’ve dug it out to the required depth. Tread firmly with your feet, or tamp the ground with an improvised tool.
Add hardcore (rubble such as broken bricks and tiles) to a height that will allow for the depth of the paving slab. Allow an extra 0.5 in (12 mm) of mortar if it’s only for foot traffic, and 1 in (25 mm) if it may sometimes have to support vehicles. Break up any large pieces of hardcore, and tamp to ensure that everything is consolidated.

Start laying from one corner and work through to the opposite corner, using pegs and string as a guide to ensure that the edges are straight. If the paved area is going to take heavy traffic, lay the slabs on a solid bed of stiff mortar.
If the patio is for light use only, such as foot traffic and normal patio furniture, it’s quicker and easier to use the spot-bedding method shown below (though it won’t be as strong).
Use five blobs of mortar. Place one blob a short distance in from each corner, and one in the middle. Lower the slab into position, trying to ensure it’s in the correct position.
Use the handle of a hammer or mallet to bed the slab evenly. Use a long spirit-level to check that each slab is flush with its neigh- bours, but be sure to allow for a slight fall so that water runs off freely.

Planning and preparation
Always lay paving with a slight fall in one direction so that rainwater runs off freely. If the patio or path is set against the house, make sure it slopes away from the building (see page 22). A gradient of 1:50 is adequate, even for a large area of paving.
It is essential that paving does not bridge the damp-proof course. The finished level should be 6 in (15 cm) below that level.
Unless the area is large, you needn’t worry about the gentle fall when you’re preparing a hardcore base. However, for a larger area of paving you may need to allow for the slope at this early stage.
Before starting to dig out the area, mark it out accurately with pegs and string.
Try to adjust the size so you won’t have to cut any more slabs than absolutely neces sary. Often you can’t avoid cutting, but you may be able to use full slabs simply by reducing or enlarging the area a little. Don’t forget to allow for mortar joints if the slabs require them.
Place the marker pegs a little way outside the area to be excavated, so they don’t fall out while you’re digging. (The place where the strings cross will indicate the corners.) When you’re marking out, check that the corners are square, using a builder’s square like the one described on page 9.

Planning and preparation
Always lay paving with a slight fall in one direction so that rainwater runs off freely. If the patio or path is set against the house, make sure it slopes away from the building (see page 22). A gradient of 1:50 is adequate, even for a large area of paving.
It is essential that paving does not bridge the damp-proof course. The finished level should be 6 in (15 cm) below that level.
Unless the area is large, you needn’t worry about the gentle fall when you’re preparing a hardcore base. However, for a larger area of paving you may need to allow for the slope at this early stage.
Before starting to dig out the area, mark it out accurately with pegs and string.
Try to adjust the size so you won’t have to cut any more slabs than absolutely neces sary. Often you can’t avoid cutting, but you may be able to use full slabs simply by reducing or enlarging the area a little. Don’t forget to allow for mortar joints if the slabs require them.
Place the marker pegs a little way outside the area to be excavated, so they don’t fall out while you’re digging. (The place where the strings cross will indicate the corners.) When you’re marking out, check that the corners are square, using a builder’s square like the one described on page 9.

 

It’s usually necessary to lay paving with a slight slope in one direction, away from the house, to ensure that rainwater runs away freely.
There’s a fairly simple way to ensure a level surface when preparing the ground. Use a spirit-level on a straight-edged piece of wood, spanning a series of pegs driven into the ground. Check the level from one peg to another in all direc- tions, adjusting their height as necessary. Level the ground with the tops of the pegs.
Where you need a slight fall in order to avoid problems with standing water, you can still use a spirit-level on a straight-edge but this time put a small wedge under the lower end of the straight-edge.
When you’re laying the slabs, use the same wedge with your straight-edge and spirit-level in the direction of the fall.

How to cut a slab
Try to design your patio to a size and shape that avoids the need to cut slabs. This will avoid waste and make the job casier. Usually, however, it is necessary to cut at least a few slabs, perhaps to go around a step or maybe an existing flower bed.
If you have a lot of slabs to cut, it might be worth hiring a block splitter. Otherwise you can use the method below to cut them by hand. Remember to wear protective goggles when scoring and cutting the slabs.
Mark the cut-line with a pencil, on both faces and on the sides of the slab. Then rest it on a bed of sand, and score along the lines to make a groove. Use a bolster (a kind of metal chisel, see page 8) and a club hammer for this.

Gradually
deepen the
grooves, then turn
the slab face down on
the sand and tap firmly along
the line with a club hammer. If
it doesn’t break along the line
after two or three blows,
deepen the grooves before
you try again.

Clay and concrete pavers
Large slabs aren’t always suitable for a patio or terrace, and smaller paving may be more appro- priate. The brick-like appearance of clay pavers may also harmonise better with brick raised beds, and can tone in more sympathetically with house bricks, too.
Pavers made from concrete can also be used, and these are more attractive than they sound. Pavers are meant to be bedded on sand, not
mortared into place like bricks or paving slabs. Their close-fitting design means they can be held firmly in position simply by vibrating sand in between the joints.
Preparing a base
Excavate the soil to a depth of about 6 in (15 cm), and fix the edging in position. Special edging blocks are usually available from the manufacturer for edges not bounded by a wall, or you can use plain concrete path-edging
blocks. Fix the blocks in position with fillets of mortar on the outside edge.
Instead of edging blocks you can use wooden battens secured in position and in any case you’ll need to fix a temporary wooden batten against existing walls, to support the board used to strike the sand level.
Fill the bottom of the excavated area with 4 in (10 cm) of compacted hardcore (rubble), with ballast (sand and shingle mix) worked in. This will ensure that there are no large air gaps where the sand layer will settle later on.
Cover the hardcore base with about 2.5 in (65 mm) of sand. This will settle to about 2 in (50 mm) when compressed. The sand for the base should be slightly moist: sprinkle a little water over it if necessary, but don’t make it wet
Clay pavers often blend particularly well with a house and garden.

Laying the pavers
Use a length of wood to compact and level The sand to the required height. Use the edgings or temporary supports to determine he correct height, making sure the pavers will be level with the edge when laid. If the baving is not too wide, use a length of wood with notches cut to the required depth to check this. If the area is too wide or this, insert temporary battens with their ops at the required depth, and use a straight- edged piece of wood over these.
Lay the pavers in the pattern you’ve decided on, laying a couple of square yards (metres) at a time. With some laying patterns, such as he herring-bone style illustrated, you will have to cut some pavers to finish off the edges. This can be done with a block cutter (it’s best to hire his), or with a bolster as described for paving slabs on page 22.

Jse a kneeling board to work from, and butt the avers closely. Tap hem into place with he handle of a club ammer or a mallet, evelling them if ecessary. Place a oard across several avers and use a hallet to ensure they are amped level.
rush dry fine sharp sand over the pavers, nsuring that as much as possible trickles etween the joints. Repeat until no more and seems to be accepted, then use a at-plate vibrator to settle the sand etween the joints. Brush in more sand, nd vibrate again, repeating until the paving stable and no more sand is accepted. If you an’t hire a vibrator, you can use a board and allet instead, but this is a more tedious ethod and not as satisfactory.

 

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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