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Finished garden patio

How to lay a garden patio

Take a look at our advice on how to lay a garden patio, in this step-by-step project.

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Do To do in January

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Do To do in March

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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.

Need some inspiration? Browse our features on container gardening for ideas.

Follow our simple steps on how to lay a garden patio, below.


You Will Need

  • Hardcore
  • Building sand
  • Cement
  • Cement mixer, optional
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Wooden pegs
  • Hammer
  • Spirit level
  • Plank of wood
  • Wacker plate
  • Rubber mallet
  • Bolster chisel
  • Pointing trowel

Total time:

Step 1

Lay the hardcore

Laying hardcore
Laying hardcore

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.

Step 2

Compact the hardcore

Compacting the hardcore
Compacting the hardcore

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.

Step 3

Level the patio

Levelling the patio
Levelling the patio

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.

Step 4

Arrange the patio slabs

Arranging the patio slabs
Arranging the patio slabs

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.

Step 5

Lay the patio slabs

Lating patio slabs
Laying patio slabs

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.

Step 6

Level the slabs

Levelling the slabs
Levelling the slabs

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.

Step 7

Edge the patio

Edging the patio
Edging the patio

Edge the patio with paviours laid 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.

Step 8

Wash the patio slabs

Washing the patio slabs
Washing the patio slabs

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

Step 9

Fill in the gaps in the patio

Filling in the gaps in the patio
Filling in the gaps in the patio

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.


Patio on a gradient

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.

Boots. Photo: Getty Images.