PREPARING THE GROUND FOR NEW PAVING
Laying new paving in your garden is a great way to improve the look and appeal of your backyard. With a paved area it is easier and safer to barbeque and enjoy meals outdoors. Laying paving can be a difficult process, however, and getting your outdoor pavers to be level is often a challenge. This article explains the process of preparing the ground for new pavers so you can be sure to get it right.
Excavate the Area
The first important step is to excavate the area where you will be laying paving stones. You will need to mark out the area to be the perfect size and then dig down to around double the depth of the paving stones so that you have space to lay the base layers. At this stage keeping the base level is not essential, but the flatter you can make the bottom the better. You also need to be sure to remove any large rubble from the bottom layer because this may breach your foundations otherwise.
Flatten with a Plate Compactor
Once you have dug to the correct depth, the next important step is to flatten and compact the earth. A plate compactor will enable you to compress and level the earth so that you have a firm base on which to create your foundations. This process will need to be repeated after laying each of the base layers and at each step getting the ground level is vitally important.
Lay a Base Layer
The next step is to lay a base layer made from crushed rock or gravel. It is important that this layer is made from small elements because it needs to allow water to seep through it to the ground below. Your base layer should extend for a few inches further than the area that you intend to pave, although this is not always possible within the boundaries of a garden patio. The base layer needs to lean slightly in one direction to enable the free flow of water off the patio, but other than this slight tilt it is important to seek complete flatness.
Lay a Vapour Layer
You will then need to lay a vapour proof layer to stop any liquid coming through the ground and into the concrete below your pavers. The easiest way to do this is to buy a vapour proof layer from a hardware store and peg it in place at the corners. Alternatively, however, you can lay a layer of compacted sand to achieve a comparable effect.
Lay the Pavers
Once you have created a level and solid base on which to construct your pavers, you are then ready for the next stage of laying the paving stones. Getting the correct consistency of concrete is an essential element of this process because the paving stones need to set firmly in place. It is important to take your time at this point and to be overly anal about getting the paving stones to be perfectly level. Any mistakes at this stage will be easily visible in the finished project, so it is important to ensure that you are getting it right. Once the pavers have been laid you will then need to leave it to set. You can walk on the new floor after a couple of days, but placing tables onto it or jumping on it is unwise for a couple of weeks.