Planning And Building A New Patio

Garden Reovation

A patio can be much more than just a small area of garden covered with paving stones instead of grass or flower beds.

A patio can be an extension of an indoor room
- that you can use and access directly from the property or a separate space creating a garden room separate from the main house.

A patio can be a safe play area for children
- or indeed, a safe area for adults to socialise in. You can have a built in a bar-b-q and have the patio as a dining area or you can spread out your garden furniture and use it as a place to sit and soak up the sun.

A patio does not have to be just on one level.
Surrounding areas may be higher or lower depending upon the slope of the ground and each separate area could be sectioned off with dwarf walls or planters. Creating planters to divide areas of a patio can give the opportunity, with judicious planting, to develop screened areas for additional privacy or to add interest. The possibilities for laying out an attractive feature patio or a paved area are only limited by your own imagination.

Laying paving slabs and building walls for the garden are not essentially difficult jobs. Whilst this type of work can be 'hard graft' it is perfectly feasible for a competent DIY enthusiast to carry out this work for themselves. The secret of success to any home project is in planning in advance. To plan a patio start with a sheet of graph paper and draw to scale the part of the garden you wish to develop. Using graph paper makes it easy to scale your drawing and also helps to maintain a sense of proportion. Firstly mark on your graph paper any objects that are not being, or cannot be, moved. This would mean the back line of the house for example or the garage and perhaps any large trees or other features you wish to keep.

If a patio is to be on more than one level or on raised ground or, think carefully where any steps may go and how wide they will need to be. Don't forget to consider ramps for visitors who may be in a wheelchair or use a 'mobility scooter'. You might consider leaving out the odd slab to allow plants or shrubs to be grown or try adding interest by mixing the colours of the paving slabs. Another way of adding interest might be laying decorative chippings or gravel in the spaces.

A formal pond will always be a focal point on, in or beside a patio.
Maybe incorporate a water feature or pond into your design. However, it is vitally important that if children are to use the area, make sure that any water feature has little or no depth or is fenced off to prevent children from direct access to the pond. Children have been known to tragically drown in the most shallow of water - even just a few centimetres or inches.

How will you light your patio?
Effective lighting cannot only create moods but can extend the use of the patio for a longer period throughout the day. You will need to plan any lighting positions and electrical and drainage services early on. In the UK you will need to employ a competent person to carry out any electrical work. (You are advised to c heck with your local authority's Building Control Department before starting.)
Essential information at the planning stage is the size and shape of paving slabs you intend to use these will be needed to be taken into account so that these can be incorporated into the design. Avoid cutting slabs wherever possible. Careful planning can keep this to a minimum avoid waste time and effort. The more accurately you plan, the more accurately you will be able to work out your material requirements.
Remember - There are two essential rules that you will need to follow if a patio is being laid alongside a house wall. Firstly, the top of the paving slabs must be at least 150mm (6") below the damp proof course of the building. Secondly the slabs must be laid with a gentle slope away from the wall to ensure that rainwater runs away from the house.

Watch out for more articles on preparing the ground for a patio and laying the patio slabs.

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