Wooden decking - so Noughties. In the Teenies, the real players have gotten patios. A well fitted patio using good stone or slate will add thousands to the resale value of your property. Well, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but a crisp patio makes a garden and creates a multi-purpose space for potted plants, garden furniture, BBQs and loungers.

Now, the better way to have your patio laid is to pay for someone else to do it. Of course. However, if you're still fit and active, have a modicum of common sense and the time, nothing beats the satisfaction of building your own. Excellent in the smugness stakes when your family members come over for drinks on an evening.

Slate, sandstone, York stone and perhaps shaped concrete, the choice of paving stone has become endless. But cough up a bit of dosh for it. As in life, you get what you pay for. I think a dark slate looks particularly nice in most gardens but you should do what you think is correct, of course.

Whatever stone you utilize, the method is just the same.

The important thing to the success of this project and every other landscaping project is preparation. Take some time and do not rush. Preparation is where you will require to put in most of your effort. It's where the professionals spend time to acquire that fantastic finish. Start with the earth you are laying the patio onto. Get it absolutely even.

Materials you’ll need are as fllows:

Hardcore (Sometimes called MOT type 1)

Building sand


Paving slabs (sandstone, York stone slate etc)

Tools you will require are as follows:

A Shovel, a rake, a wheelbarrow, wooden level pegs or stakes, a hammer, a spirit level, a long plank of wood, a vibrating plate (rent one), a cement mixer (rent one), a rubber mallet, a pointing trowel.

The procedure to follow is:

1. So, firstly, clear the area. Remove any turf, weeds, plants or old paving to a depth of about 15cm (6in). This will allow your patio to sit flush with the lawn. Now get your vibrating plate and give the area a once over. It will make it nice and flat.

2. Now you will require to create a solid surface for the slabs to sit on. Get a wheel barrow and cover the area with in a 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) layer of hardcore. Use a rake to spread it evenly.

3. Get your vibrating plate out again and run it over the hardcore to compact and level it.

4. Right, if your patio is near to the house, you will want to bring about a small gradient (from the home) to permit rainwater to empty off. So, get 10 or 20 wooden stakes (depending on the size of your patio) and spacing them evenly, hammer them into the ground so they are all level. Now you will need your spirit level and a long plank of wood. Make sure the stakes are all level to begin with by resting the plank across the stakes as they face away from the home and putting the spirit level across it. Now knock the stakes furthest from the home further into the ground. You are looking to make a steady gradient here for the rainwater to drain. Measure the gradient by placing the spirit level on top of the plank. Spend time getting this right. It is vital for that finish.

5. Now, figure out the design required for the patio. If you desire a random design, start playing with some slabs to work out which shapes work and interlock well together. If you want an everyday pattern, make some measurements to make sure you've got enough slabs and you can avoid having to cut the stone.

6. Make life easy for yourself and hire an electrical cement mixer. Now, make a mortar mix of 5 parts building sand to 1 part cement. Don't mix a lot to start with - it'll set if you leave it for too long. Mix mortar as and whenever you will need it. Spread a layer of mortar about 5 to 8cm (2 to 3in) deep, and place your slab onto it, tapping it down firmly with a rubber mallet.

7. Remember to leave a 1cm (½in) gap between each slab. You will fill this with mortar later. Keep make use of the plank of wood and spirit level to ensure the slabs are level with the stakes you banged in the earth earlier and you've still got your gradient.

8. Wash down the slabs you have laid and ensure that you remove any splattered cement. Otherwise it will harden on the slabs.

9. Finally, fill the gaps between the paving slabs using a pointing trowel and the same mortar mix that you used before. Spend time to acquire a nice finish.

You’re done - well done. You have done a superb job here. Time to call your friends and get them round for quite a drink. Naturally, your real friends are already here – helping you along with the patio.

I spend a lot of my spare time in my garden but I have to admit that the majority of it is spent either improving my pond or just sitting by it watching the world in water. A great deal of my fascination with ponds was created with the help of a gardener

Author's Bio: 

I have been heavily involved in the property business for over twenty years. My work ranges from gardening, electrics and diy. Gasically I can turn my hand to pretty much anything.