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How to Prep for Laying a Patio or Path (page 2 of 2)

Patios, paths and driveways require a firm base to function properly. Learn more about what you need to do before laying a pathway or patio.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Laying Pavers and Slabs

The pattern chosen for laying slabs or pavers is very much a personal choice. Manufacturers often provide good displays or brochures showing the various options. Some simple types of paver and slab design are shown below. Also remember that bricks can be used for paving. You can also buy cut or curved slabs to create alternative designs. Cutting such a curve yourself is practically impossible. Don't forget that you can also pave areas with any combination of pavers, slabs, gravel and cobbles.

Paver and Slab Designs
Stack Bond Pavers (image 1); Herringbone Pavers (image 2); Brickbond Pavers (image 3); Basketweave Pavers (image 4); Combined Pavers and Slabs (image 5); Curved Slabs and Cobbles (image 6)


You will need drainage around the edge of large hard-landscaped areas. Standing water near the house may soak into walls and cause mildew. Water on a paved surface can lead to the growth of algae and vegetation, making it slippery and dangerous—a problem for paving laid on a concrete slab or if mortar has been used. If pavers have been bedded onto sand, some water will drain down through joints and into the subsoil below. Always lay paths and patios with a very slight slope running away from adjacent walls.

Establishing a Slope (image below)
Over a small area, you can establish a slope to aid drainage by reducing the amount of mortar or sand under slabs or pavers as you move away from the house. For larger areas of hard landscaping, establish the correct slope in the foundations. A slope of 1 inch in 6 feet is sufficient.

Courtesy of © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Planning Foundations

Paths and paved areas that will take the weight of vehicles will need more extensive foundations than those used only by people. When planning a major project like a new driveway, seek professional advice about the foundations.

If you are laying slabs for a path or patio that will not be driven on, they can be laid directly on a compacted subsoil base. If the base has been recently disturbed by excavation work—for example, if an extension has been recently built—lay a crushed stone base on the compacted soil. The slabs may then be dry laid onto a sand layer or laid on mortar. The excavation depth will vary. Ideally, crushed stone should be 4 in (100 mm) deep. Slabs can also be laid on an old concrete surface without any excavation.

Foundation requirements for pavers are similar to those of slabs for paths and patios. However, for driveways and parking areas, pavers do not need a concrete base. They can be laid on compacted crushed stone covered with sand.

Square Paths and Patios (image 1)
Use strings and pegs to lay out an area for a square patio area

Planning a Path (image 2)
For straight guide lines, use string and pegs. A garden hose is ideal for planning curves in a design.

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009