How to Prepare Ground For and Lay Paving

Before laying paving in your garden, you first need to prepare the ground. There are a number of steps that need to be taken to ensure not just that your paving looks good once laid, but that it remains looking good for a long time afterward.

Poor preparation is the greatest cause of paving problems and there are no real short-cuts, so make the effort and you will only have to do the job once and won’t need to make repairs and adjustments subsequently.

First of all, remove the topsoil and dig down. You need to dig fairly deep, preferably until you reach hard ground as this will provide a firm foundation. Next, you need to calculate what level the paving will sit at after you have laid it and don’t forget to allow a fall so that water can drain.

Lay around 30mm of sand. If you are laying a patio, you will need around 100mm of stone. For driveways, (which will have to support greater weight) you will need 150mm. Once this is laid, compact it with a plate vibrator. Sand will be laid on top of this as the first part of the actual paving process.

Once you have properly prepared the ground by digging down and compacting sand and stone, you are now ready to lay your paving.

First of all, you need to create falls for water run-off. Having chosen a coarse concrete sand, spread it evenly, deep enough for compaction. Use a plate vibrator to then compact it.

You will now need to set up the screed boards. Set them so that the top is 5mm higher than the bottom of the paving will be. Screed the compacted sand off. If the sand is not high enough, add more and compact once again. Having done this and screeded, remove the boards and fill the gaps, screeding again.

Now, having chosen a pattern for your paving, you are ready to start laying. A builder’s line can function as a guide. The edge slabs can be cut using a power saw or guillotine. Once these have been positioned, you can now compact your paving and spread jointing sand to fill the gaps. Compact the jointing sand and then top them up. Your paving is now laid and assuming you have prepared the ground properly, should last for many years to come.