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How to Lay a Garden Patio

Welcome to our step-by-step guide on how to lay a garden patio, using our aggregates that we sell and deliver to you. 

Every homeowner with a garden would love to be able to transform their unkept and uninviting gardens into a welcoming area, with freshly laid, stunning patios that provide space for BBQs, outdoor movie nights, alfresco dining and more. Knowing this, here at Concrete 247 we wanted to create a step-by-step guide for you to follow so you can transform your outside space into an area that’ll really make the neighbours jealous!

What are the different types of patios and what can they be used for?

The overall look of patios can differ depending on whether you use concrete slabs, bricks, paving stones or simply a concrete area. Laying patios or paving at the home can be done for different reasons, such as:

  • Creating areas for garden furniture and BBQs
  • To lay a ground area for garden sheds, summer houses or green houses to go on
  • To create garden pathways or driveways at the front of the property

Whatever your desired patio outcome is, this step-by-step guide will teach you how to prepare and lay the patio, and will have your garden looking beautiful in no time.

  • Tools List
    • Safety goggles
    • Protective gloves
    • Knee pads
    • Builder's line
    • Builder's square
    • Shovel
    • Wheelbarrow
    • Tape measure
    • Straightedge rake
    • Wooden spacers
    • Club hammer or Rubber mallet
    • Earth rammer or Vibrating Plate Compactor
    • Spirit level
    • Bucket
    • Soft brush
    • Trowel
    • Watering can
  • Materials List
    • Wooden marker pegs
    • Sub-base or MOT type 1 hardcore
    • Mortar mix (5:1 sharp sand & cement) - (aggregates)
    • Paving slabs (or bricks if that’s what you’re using)
    • 5mm spacers
    • Timber offcut
    • Large headed nails
  • Health & Safety
    • Don't work aloneIt's a two person job (at least)
    • ChildrenMake sure that children are not near the workspace and do not let them handle the tools
    • ChemicalsAlways read labels of hazardous materials and wear protective clothing like gloves and goggles
    • LiftingAlways bend at the knee, not hunching your back over - don’t lift heavy items alone
    • Power ToolsAlways wear safety equipment and understand how to use the tools properly first


    Step 1: Preparing for the Patio sub-base

    • First of all you’ll need to do a practice run with just the slabs. Find a flat surface and lay out your paving slabs in order to get your desired look. If necessary, mark the slabs or take a photo to remember the layout. 
    • You’ll now need to mark out the area for where you want the patio to be. To do this, take your wooden pegs and hammer one in each corner of the area and use your builders line (or string) to go around all of the pegs, creating the shape outline that you want the patio to be. 
    • Check the shape is even/square by using your builders square to check the angles of the corners. A tip, if you measure the diagonals of the builders square and make sure every corner is the same length, then it’ll be perfectly square. 
    • You’ll now need to measure how far to dig down in the desired area giving enough room for the sub-base, mortar mix and paving slabs themselves. You’ll need 50mm for the sub-base, 50mm for the mortar mix and then the slabs (usually around 25mm), using this as an example you are digging 125mm deep. 
    • Using a spade/shovel dig down to the correct depth. Use a ruler or measuring tape to make sure it’s correct and level
    • You can now remove the wooden pegs and builders line

    Please note: If laying the patio directly next to a property, you’ll need to create a slope away from the property walls. So on the garden side, dig a slight slope away from the property, so that moisture travels that way through the soil. The sub-base will need to be level still, so use more on the slope side. Use wooden pegs and a spirit level to aid you in making the slope.

    Step 2: Laying the Patio sub-base

    • Mark the sub-base depth on a few wooden pegs and place them around the dug out hole, this is so you can see where to fill the sub-base to. 
    • Using a wheelbarrow, tip the sub-base/MOT type 1 hardcore into the area, so that it’s just above the marked area on the pegs.
    • Once the area is filled, remove the pegs and use a rake to even out the sub-base
    • Put on all your protective gear, including industrial ear muffs if you have them
    • Follow the instructions from your vibrating plate or earth rammer and go over the sub-base area with the power tool, as if you were mowing a lawn, until all of the sub-base is flattened, smooth and even (use spirit level to check)

    Step 3: Laying the mortar mix

    • Your mortar mix or ‘blinding coat level’ is where you take the Aggregates that’s right for your job (sharp sand, ballast etc.) and mix with cement
    • Remove the pegs and builders line that you laid out at the beginning
    • Mix your aggregates with the cement in a ratio of 5:1, and then add the amount of water that’s stated on the cement package - it’s probably best to do this in the wheelbarrow
    • Don’t pour the cement over the whole area, instead lay just enough to do one slab at a time and use a trowel to level out
    • Dampen the bottom of the paving slab, ideally with a paint brush and water
    • Lay the slab over the cemented area and tap into place with your rubber mallet
    • Check it’s level with the spirit level
    • Use wooden spacers to create a slight gap between each slab
    • Repeat these steps until all slabs have been laid
    • Remove all wooden spacers and with a watering can, wet between all of the joints/ridges of the slabs 
    • Wait for this to completely dry

    Step 4: Sealing the slabs (jointing)

    • In a bucket, mix a ratio of sand (5) to cement (1) (5:1) to create a dry mix
    • Fill all the joints to the top with the dry mix and brush off the excess 
    • Push down the dry mix in the joints, add more and brush the excess again
    • Smooth it out with the back of the trowel and leave the patio to completely dry and then the patio is complete

    Step 5: Protecting the Patio as it dries

    • Create four stacked-bricks along each side of the patio so that they are several inches taller than the patio
    • Take a timber and line it up over the bricks so that it goes down the centre of the patio
    • Place a plastic sheet over the patio, so that it goes over the bricks and timber, not touching the patio surface
    • Way the plastic down with more bricks and set to dry

    So there you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to lay a patio. With this guide you should now be able to create a beautiful garden patio (or pathway) that can be used to set up your garden furniture on, so that you can enjoy alfresco dining, sunbathing, outdoor parties and BBQs. 

    Should you seek any further professional advice on laying a patio or what aggregates to use, and you’re based in Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton and other surrounding areas please do give Concrete 247 a call and we’d be more than happy to help.  

    What is Cement?

    Cement is a binding substance that when mixed with aggregates and water creates a mixture that sets and hardens. It’s used to bind materials together, such as bricks or patio slabs. For a ‘mortar’ mix you would take the cement and mix with very fine aggregates. For a concrete mix, the cement would be mixed with aggregates such as sand and gravel.

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