With the weather this summer behaving itself so far, and providing us with lots of warm sunny days, one of the best ways to enjoy that bounty of great weather has always been simply relaxing in the garden!
In order to relax and enjoy the sunshine, you need to have somewhere in the garden with a hard-stand flat surface, you know for the sunbeds/deckchairs, but more importantly a table and chairs to eat and drink alfresco, socialising with family and friends.
Most people baulk at the idea of building a patio or a decking platform, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult, let’s take a patio:-
First thing you need to do is draw a scaled plan of your garden (say half inch= 1 foot) or (1cm=0.5mtr). Draw any existing features on that you like, then choose the location of your patio. Most people expect to have the patio adjacent to the back of the house by the kitchen and lounge, which is not always the sunniest, or maybe install a secondary area, by using a pre-made circular patio, either in a sunnier/shadier part of the garden! This type of patio is simplicity itself, and anyone can lay one of these, They come in either manufactured, or natural stone, and they can be as big as you want by adding more rings to achieve the size you want!
Once you’ve chosen the location lay out the circle on top of the grass (mow the lawn first!) starting with the circular centrepiece, and add each ring until the circle is complete. Ensure the joints are fairly equal and even, then using marker spray paint, paint the circle onto the grass around the patio, or just cut into the lawn with a spade to mark out the circle. Lift and stack the slabs to one side, skim off the grass, by dissecting into lines the width of the spade slice off the grass layer by pushing away from your with your knee behind your hand where there is least resistance, alternatively hire a turf-cutter to strip off the lawn leaving a compact flat surface behind!
Next lay out the circle again-dry (without mortar) once happy with the layout, now it’s time to “knock up” the mix. The perfect patio mortar-mix is 4 parts sharp (course) sand, 2 parts soft (building) sand and 1 part cement, with half a cupful of plasticiser to each mix. The mix needs to be the consistency of double cream, lift the centrepiece and empty a good shovel full of mortar into the space, spread the mortar all over with a trowel in a rippled effect, then place the centrepiece, and tap it gently with a rubber mallet, to ensure the mortar is spread completely under the whole slab, without any voids, check your levels, and start on the first ring.
Simply pick up and lay one slab at a time, repeating the process for each slab, and each ring, until the circle is complete. Leave to set for a day or two, then grout the patio with a DRY mix of 3 parts soft sand to 1 part cement. Wearing rubber gloves force the dry mix into the joints, carefully sweeping clean with a soft brush as you go, rubbing in and shaping the joints with a jointer, or a bent piece of 15mm copper tube.
A top Tommy tip; when grouting, choose a hot day, take the rose off a watering can, and really soak the joints, go and have a cup of tea, while the splashes, and overspill on the paving dries in the sun, then apply the dry grout mix, working in small sections across the paving. The Grout mix draws up the moisture by capillary action, and when gently rubbed with the jointer a strong wet mortar joint is achieved without staining the paving!
Using this method means you’ll have a weed and insect free area to sunbathe, and enjoy a cold beer, or refreshing glass of Pimms!
Enjoy the Summer Sunshine