Buy­ers’ Guide to paving Choose the right slabs for your pa­tio

The hum­ble paving slab has evolved in re­cent years. Ge­off Hodge ex­plains how to choose the right type for your pa­tio

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

There are few gar­dens that don’t ben­e­fit from an area of hard stand­ing. Whether that’s an at­trac­tive pa­tio for out­door en­ter­tain­ing, a paved ter­race for al fresco din­ing, or sim­ply some­where to dis­play your bur­geon­ing col­lec­tion of or­na­men­tal pots, it’s nice if that paving con­trib­utes to the over­all aes­thet­ics of the gar­den. Paths, too, of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to choose paving that helps im­prove the am­bi­ence of the space. This is where the good old paving slab comes into its own. But you can for­get the once-stan­dard fare of 60x60cm (2x2ft) con­crete slabs in gar­ish colours or drabbest grey. When I man­aged a gar­den cen­tre in the 1980s, all you had to choose from was a se­lec­tion of bright yel­low, pink or ‘coun­cil pave­ment grey’. Oh, how things have changed! Now paving is read­ily avail­able in a wide range of nat­u­ral and man­made ma­te­ri­als in a choice of tex­tures, styles, shapes and colours. There’s truly some­thing for ev­ery taste, un­lock­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing a stylish flour­ish what­ever your gar­den’s size. Ma­te­ri­als now in­clude nat­u­ral lime­stone, slate, sand­stone, gran­ite and silky smooth porce­lain tiles. But even the colours and de­signs, look and feel of man­made con­crete and re­con­sti­tuted stone slabs have im­proved be­yond mea­sure. Mel­lowed with age and a bit of weath­er­ing, th­ese too can look fab­u­lous in a gar­den set­ting, of­ten re­sem­bling much pricier nat­u­ral stone fin­ishes. And, of course, it’s not all about squares and ob­longs: you can cre­ate cir­cles and a whole

Large ex­panses of one size can look mo­not­o­nous so use a va­ri­ety to be creative

range of dif­fer­ent shapes us­ing paving. But if you’re not adept with a stone-cut­ting cir­cu­lar saw fit­ted with a di­a­mond ma­sonry blade (!) your best bet is to buy a cir­cu­lar paving kit. So, with a bit of thought and care­ful plan­ning, your pa­tio could be­come one of the best fea­tures of the whole gar­den.

Rough or smooth?

The pro­file is the out­line shape of the sur­face and there are three ba­sic pro­files to choose from – smooth, riven or tex­tured. Smooth pro­files are flat, level and even. Their sleek style suits con­tem­po­rary gar­dens or more func­tional uses (such as be­ing laid as a shed base). Those that are cut on each of their faces com­bine a smooth pro­file with straight edges for the ul­ti­mate in clean, con­tem­po­rary paving. Riven pro­files have been split or man­u­fac­tured to cre­ate an out­line that’s un­even, rugged and ir­reg­u­lar. This rus­tic ap­pear­ance cre­ates a weath­ered look that makes the stones seem as if they’ve been in place for years. If opt­ing for con­crete, look for paving that in­cludes a va­ri­ety of riven pro­files to help achieve a ran­dom, nat­u­ral look. Riven sur­faces have ex­cel­lent non-slip prop­er­ties. Tex­tured pro­files are of­ten de­scribed as look­ing sand­blasted or stip­pled. They of­fer bet­ter slip re­sis­tance than smooth pro­files, and work well in modern gar­dens to give a uni­form ap­pear­ance to your paving.

How big, and how many?

Most paving ranges come in a va­ri­ety of sizes – usu­ally from 30x30cm (12x12in) up to 90x90cm (3x3ft). The big­ger sizes are gen­er­ally bet­ter for larger paving ar­eas, and smaller ones for more com­pact ar­eas. How­ever, large ex­panses of one size can look mo­not­o­nous. It’s a good idea to use a va­ri­ety of sizes, which will al­low you to be creative with your paving lay­out. For best re­sults keep to a max­i­mum of three sizes.

Brad­stone Old Town con­crete pavers (£40-£45/sq m)

Con­crete slabs come in a range of tex­tures and colours to mim­ick nat­u­ral stone.

Brad­stone Mode Pro­filed porce­lain tiles £50-£55/sq m

Th­ese large porce­lain tiles have a slight pro­file for bet­ter grip.

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