Laying a patio

As people become more aware of the value of a comfortable living space out of doors, patios are becoming more and more popular. Patios are paved areas where people can relax, entertain, cook or just sit and enjoy the warm summer sunshine. While laying your own patio can be hard work, by building it yourself you can save money and for many people there is a great satisfaction in knowing that you did the work yourself.
   When selecting a site for a patio there are a number of factors which should be considered. Before deciding on a site it is important to work out the areas position in relation to the sun. If maximum warmth and sunshine are required then a west or south facing patio is usually best. If privacy is going to be an issue it may be necessary to erect trellis or other screening to block out any overlooking neighbours. When deciding on this however it is worth remembering that the higher the surround the less sunshine the patio is likely to trap.
   When the site for the patio has been selected the first step is to prepare the foundation. All top soil should be removed from the area to be paved. The base can then be filled with a layer of hardcore. The hardcore should be laid to a depth of about four to six inches, depending on the firmness of the surrounding area. This layer should then be thoroughly compacted. This can be done with a mechanical “whacker” which can be hired from any tool hire company. Once the area has been sufficiently compacted a bedding layer of coarse sand about an inch thick should be added to the base. When adding this layer you should allow for a slight slope across the paved area to stop any water settling on the patio.
   Starting in one corner carefully place the first slab in position and gently tap down using a rubber mallet. Mark out the edges of the patio with builder’s line to ensure that the edges of the slabs make straight lines. The bedding of sand should allow for the slabs to be tapped into place quite easily. Each slab should be leveled against the line and its neighbour to ensure a flat surface. When all the slabs have been laid, joints can be filled by brushing in a mixture of dry sand and cement.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.