Position your paving in the best area of your garden, to take advantage of natural light and views. Paths should work well and feel comfortable when walking on them. The addition of paved areas in your garden is an extension of your living area. We use our gardens for our own pleasure and to entertain our friends, so the correct use of paved areas in the garden can be a great asset to our home.

When you have chosen the area you would like to have paved, mark it out with some lime or paint so that you can start the project. We know need to determine our desired level of the paved area, taking into consideration the existing levels that we need to match up with, ie; doors, existing paving, garden beds etc.

Set a peg into the ground to the finished level of your paving, transpose this level across to each corner of the proposed paved area. This can be done by using a string line level, straight edge and spirit level, or if you are lucky enough to have one, a Cowley level.


Put pegs into these level points. Now you have level pegs around the proposed paved area, you will need to determine the best way to drain the area. If the area is 20m2 or under, you can put a 2% slope on the paving, directed away from the house to a lawn area or garden bed. If the area is bigger you may need to put a central storm water pit in the paving, in any case, all you need to do is to measure the span that the slope will run and multiply it by 2%. It’s quite simple, for every 1 lineal metre the fall will be 20mm. When you have worked out where you will run the water off to and the fall in the paving that you require, all you need to do is drop the string line down on the appropriate pegs. Now the hard yakka starts!

It’s time to dig out your area, ready for paving. You will need to put string lines between the pegs on the high side to the low side, (ensure you have allowed for the fall in the paving for drainage). The depth that you require to excavate for paving will be 75mm for the base plus 20mm for bedding material plus the thickness of the paver.

Excavate the area either by hand or if there is access and the budget will allow, hire a machine with operator to do the work for you. Whichever way you do it, the most important thing to remember is to keep a check on the depth being excavated and ensure that it is even and that you have dug down to a firm base. If the area you are going to pave on is back filled land, or very wet, you may need advice from an engineer prior to paving. They will advise you of different methods of preparing these areas for paving.

Now you have the area completely excavated, you can start to prepare the base. The material used is a crushed aggregate, the same material used for road base. This can be bought in different grades. The best is A or B grade. Some bases contain too much clay that can react with moisture and cause problems with your paving in the future.

Spread this crushed aggregate evenly over the proposed paved area, usually at a depth of 100mm to allow for compaction. Rake this out evenly and compact using a vibrating compaction plate (a wacker). This is easily hired from most handyman centres. Compact the base to an even thickness of 75mm, making sure that the area is even by using the string lines to check. The base should be almost as flat as you intend to have your finished paving.

It’s almost time to pave, but first we need to prepare our bedding material. The sand we use is known as triple washed Macadilla, fine white, and Playpen sand just to mention some of the more commonly known names. Australia has a wide variety of sands and gravels, so as I have said before, the safest way is to ask your local garden supply centre to give you advice on what the local trade people are using. A good tip is that it shouldn’t be able to be rolled into a ball like clay when wet.

Lay an even 25mm layer of sand over the crushed aggregate, ensuring that it is flat and has an even fall for drainage. You can rake the sand out roughly and then using a straight edge, screed it off nice and evenly. Finally ready to begin paving!

Set a string line along the starting point to keep the first course in line. Lay the first course of pavers and move the string line along as you progress through the paving. You can walk on the paving that you have just laid by using small walking planks. When you have laid all the pavers, you will need to cut some of them for the finishing touches.

A brick-cutting machine will be needed if the pavers are clay and this can be hired from a handyman store, but I believe they are quite dangerous and unless you have had experience using them, I would employ a brick-cutting contractor to help you. If the paving you are using is concrete, you can hire a brick block hydraulic guillotine.

After all the cuts are placed, broom sand over paving. Cut 75mm x 20 treated pine to border paving, peg the pine border tightly around paving to hold in the borders.

The final step is to spread approx 5mm thickness of sand evenly over pavers using a plastic grass rake. Then you will need to vibrate pavers into sand bed using the vibrating compaction plate (wacker). This will bed pavers into the sand bed. Do this until the pavers feel firmly in place. (Usually no more than 3 times over paved area).

Now sweep the sand off and expose your work of art.

If some paving didn’t bed in as well as others, use a rubber mallet to bed them in.

If you don’t use a vibrating compaction plate, you can manually bed the pavers in using the rubber mallet and a block of wood.

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