Which paving slabs are best for your garden?

Enjoy a perfect outdoor sanctuary by choosing the right paving slabs for your garden patio. There is more variety to paving stones out there than you might think, and the choice you make for your patio paving can really add extra character to your property. From granite paving, to concrete paving and Indian sandstone, the materials you choose for your block paving will make all the difference to the look of your garden. You can even combine paving slabs with gravel for a softer look, and to help smooth out any awkward corners.

Patio slabs let you create a focus area in your garden that help you make the most of your outdoor space. This allows you to take advantage of attractive patio designs and patio ideas to really make your garden inviting. Creating an outdoor area with paving stones introduces an area for family and friends to gather or a functional place for storage. Laying a patio is a straight-forward process, so whether you want a simple square design or a more elaborate pattern, there are only a few things you need to keep in mind. Read our Tesco guide and prepare to transform your outdoor space with paving slabs.

Natural paving

If you are considering a rustic or classic look to your garden, then natural paving may be best suited to your needs. With natural paving no two slabs are the same, and it usually provides a tougher surface than the man-made alternatives. This type of paving is also less likely to fade over time. There are many types of attractive natural paving options available, including granite paving, sandstone paving and slate paving.

Man-made paving

Man-made paving offers a cleaner cut alternative material to lay as garden flooring. As the tiles have been manufactured as opposed to reclaimed, it is more likely to be uniform in colour and shape, which allows for a much neater looking finish in your garden. Man-made paving is often made from concrete and provides a solid base for barbecue equipment or garden furniture.

Sandstone paving

Sandstone has been a common building material in the UK for hundreds of years, and still continues to be a popular method of outdoor paving for people across the country.

These days most sandstone is imported from India, and this rich Indian sandstone offers a simple way to add style to any outdoor area. This type of garden paving offers an attractive and cost-effective way to pave your patio. Indian sandstone comes in a range of different styles, from polished to unpolished, and in different colours from light grey to brick red.

The most important thing to consider when you are buying paving slabs is the shape and size of the flagstones. Try to imagine how the stonework will complement your home's existing brick work, as you do not want to end up with a garden pattern that does not fit with your home's style. The particular shape of slab is an important consideration as it will decide how the individual pieces fit together to create a level surface. Not all block paving is square or rectangular, circular stones and triangular bricks often allow for more elaborate designs.

Sandstone size and thickness varies greatly, but it is usually in the range of 10-40cm in width, and the thickness can be anything up to 150mm for driveways and other areas that need a hard-wearing, load-bearing floor.

Laying paving

Laying garden paving is easier than you think, and once you've chosen the right type of paving for your garden it's time to get to work. You don't need a huge toolkit to get the job done, just a shovel, spirit level, mallet and trowel should be enough.

First things first-dry lay the paving slabs where you want them to go. This lets you see if they fit, if you have enough, and if the layout is correct. This means that you can find any potential problems before you've properly started to dig the foundations and lay the paving.

Next you want to dig the foundations. The patio itself should be at least 150mm lower than the damp proof course of your property, and you will likely need another 150mm of space for the foundation mixing. Another crucial thing to remember is to ensure that your patio slopes away from your property so the rain drains away. You will need a gradient of around 25mm for every metre and a half of patio that you are laying.

The easiest way to mark out the area that you are paving is to place wooden pegs around the area, and use string as the guide for where the edges should be. The wooden pegs also let you mark the different depths of the mortar, and the slabs. The next step is to lay the foundation concrete, ensuring that it provides an even and firm surface.

Now comes the time to lay the paving itself. The best method is to work out from the corner, tapping the slabs with the mallet to ensure they are at the right level. Use a spirit level to ensure that the slope is included and that the slabs are even. Once you've finished leave the paving for at least a full day so the bedding mortar is able to harden.

If you are using natural paving, you may have to vary the amount of mortar under each slab. This is a slightly harder process, but ensures that the paving is even, as each slab will vary in thickness.

Once this is done, mix a mortar of three parts sand one part cement. Add water until there is a smooth consistency. The mortar should be able to form a firm damp ball when squeezed; if it crumbles or lets out too much water then the consistency will be incorrect.

Once you're satisfied with the mortar, start filling in the gaps between the slabs with a trowel. Leave this to harden for a few hours, then give you're the paving a good sweep and you'll be ready to enjoy your new garden patio!

You can also take advantage of the dry mix method, and simply sweep the mortar into the gaps between the slabs if they are laid close together.

The range of different paving slabs from Tesco lets you shape your garden to your needs. Not only does a new patio give you a whole new area to enjoy for family barbecues, or a little al fresco dining, but with the right choice of paving slab, it also lets you transform the look of your garden for the better. From sandstone paving to granite paving, and rounds slabs to square slabs, the range from Tesco gives you all the options you need for a beautiful new garden patio that you can enjoy for years to come.