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How to lay a garden patio

You will need

  • Hardcore material, building sand, cement, cement mixer (optional)
  • Paving, paviours
  • Shovel, rake, wheelbarrow
  • Wooden pegs, hammer, spirit level, plank of wood, wacker plate
  • Rubber mallet
  • Bolster chisel
  • Pointing trowel
Do it: all year round
Takes just: a weekend


Lay a patio now and you'll enjoy the benefits each time you're out in the garden. It's not a difficult job, so put aside a weekend and you'll soon be entertaining friends, or enjoying a well-earned rest on your new patio surrounded by pots and plants.

How to do it


Clear the area you've chosen for your patio to a depth of 15cm to allow room for the hardcore, mortar and paving slabs. Lay 5cm - 8cms of hardcore, using a rake to distribute it and even out any bumps.


Use a wacker plate to compact and level the hardcore. It's not essential, but stops the rubble moving around while you lay the slabs, making the base solid.


Hammer wooden pegs into the ground - they need to be at the same height to mark the level surface of the patio. Make sure they're level with any existing paving and manhole covers. Position several over the patio site to work with, using a spirit level to ensure they're even.


For a random design, place several slabs on the ground to help you decide which shapes interlock well together. Alternatively, cut out pieces of paper to represent scaled-down slabs and work out a design on your scale plan.


Make a mortar mix - five parts building sand to one part cement. If you're laying a small patio, do this in a wheelbarrow, for larger areas it's worth hiring an electric cement mixer. Lay slabs on a bed of mortar 5cm - 8cm deep, tapping down firmly with a rubber mallet or pressing down with your hands.


You need to leave a 1cm gap between each slab, which you'll fill in later with mortar. As you progress, use your spirit level or a plank of wood to ensure the slabs are level with the pegs you banged into the ground earlier.


Edge the patio with paviours layed on a 5cm - 8cm layer of mortar, butting them closely together. For a neat fit, use a hammer and bolster chisel to break paviours where necessary.


Wash down the slabs when you've finished, making sure you remove any splattered mortar before it hardens and stains the paving.


Fill the gaps between the paving slabs using a pointing trowel and the same mortar mix as before. Try not to get mortar on the slab surfaces as this will stain if allowed to set.

Our tip

If the patio is next to the house, include a slight gradient away from the house when laying the slabs, so that rainwater simply runs off into an area where it can be soaked up.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to lay a garden patio
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Rose13 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Very helpful. Another job I'm going to try soon, but just a circle.... best to start small me thinks :)

andrew firth 11/04/2012 at 19:53

How much sand and cement will i need for a patio that is 8 foot by 10 foot

Diana24 16/05/2012 at 13:24

Can you lay a patio over an exisiting patio?

Pretzel 16/11/2012 at 19:34

It's the hammering the wooden pegs "into the ground - they need to be at the same height to mark the level surface of the patio" (and finding wooden pegs) that's always been the impossible part for me. Any tipes on what this actually means and how to do it?

I've all the materials outside waiting for me to lay paving stones next to a path to give me a wider seating area. Think I'm just going to spirit-level the slabs with the path - oh, except the path is not excactly level and even! Ah well, it'll be a paved area of some character...

Maximus2 09/02/2013 at 12:59

I have a small area that I want to lay some slabs on (about 3m x 3m max). The area is covered with cracked old concrete. Can that be broken up or do I need to buy hard core? And if so, where from? I can't see it on Wickes website?

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