How To Design And Build Your Own Patio

If you are planning on laying a new patio or replacing an existing one, it can be an enjoyable project to design. Patios offer lots of design choices, from the size and shape of the seating area, to the pattern made by the paving slabs, to the materials used. It can be too simplistic to arrange a monotonous collection of square slabs into a precise rectangle, so why not be a little more daring with your design? Think about introducing a more dynamic shape that connects your home to the rest of the property’s exterior.

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Consider using more than one type of patio paving to break up the look of your design. Or, how about adding a feature to the patio that gives it a focal point, like a pond? Once you have settled on your design you may simply want to appoint a contractor to lay it for you. However, laying your own patio can be a rewarding project to take on over the course of a few weekends. And, though it is labor intensive, it can even be fun.

Laying Freeform Slabs.

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Once you have completed your ground works, by removing anything that is in the way, like weeds, mark out the area you are going to pave with pegs and string. For beginners, a right angled shape is going to be easiest to deal with. Take step back and make sure the marked area looks right and that it is in proportion. Use a roller or a compactor to flatten the space and add a layer of fine sand to even out any bumps. Now start laying your slabs from one side. Use freeform slabs of differing sizes as these are just as easy to position as regularly sized ones.

Mortar And Crazy Paving.

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Backyard patio

Add mortar to the back of the slab you are going to lay with a trowel. For small ones, add a dab to each edge and for large ones make a cross shape from corner to corner. Place the slab carefully and tap it flat gently with a rubber mallet. Now, progress to the next slab leaving a little gap between them. For more experienced patio layers, use odd shaped slabs, commonly called ‘crazy paving’, next to one another. The gaps between them may vary a little, which gives you a bit of room for play. Use a spirit level to ensure the slabs lie flat. After two days, the mortar will have set. Fill the space between the paving slabs with some more mortar to complete the job.

The Classical Look.

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If you want to recreate the look of a Roman villa in your home, try using a combination of slabs, large and small, that will give you a mosaic-like effect. For a complex design, such as this, it can be worth laying out the slabs in advance, before you reach for any mortar. Then use a marker pen to number each slab underneath so you know where to put it, prior to fixing it permanently in position.

Run Off.

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Leaving some gaps between the slabs of a patio will allow for water to run off. Drainage should not be overlooked, particularly if the patio is to be positioned right next to your house. By allowing water to run off adequately you can prevent problems of damp in your home. Fill in any gaps, not already filled with mortar, with pea shingle. Alternatively, allow grass to grow through the gaps which can create a striking look as well as improving drainage.

Triangles And Curves.

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If you are felling adventurous, select triangular shaped paving slabs. This can work well if the area you are paving is not going to be a regular rectangle or a square. Another striking design idea, which is a little more difficult to pull off, is to go for a circular pattern that radiates out from a central point. Circles look wonderful in long and thin gardens, because they can make the space seem wider than it actually is.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.