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Hints and Tips When Planning Your Garden and Patio

Posted on 10th December 2020

Over the past two decades, our team at Stone & Surfaces Direct have provided guidance and advise to many contractors and designers on material selection and how to use them in specific applications. The following provides a list of some of the critical points that we often get asked about. These are highlighted in many of the feature projects shown in our inspiration section.

  • Always use good quality materials that have a certificate of performance and know there is a chain of custody to the material origin and manufacture. Beware of product names particularly for stone paving and tiles that are used to suggest it is extracted and made in the UK.
  • When thinking about your garden space, consider the shape of the garden and how you can best utilise it, the orientation of the sun, and what type of structures form the boundary. In doing so, the primary consideration is the placement of the sitting area so that you get the maximum benefit from those few sunny days. It may mean the sitting areas are positioned at the furthest point from the house.
  • In a small garden, by taking a line diagonally from corner to corner of the garden, and paving diagonally to the rear or front corner, greater depth can be created with a transition area built from the house access, if the patio is to the rear.
  • Consider how your garden space could evolve over time, allowing planting the space to grow and large or fast-growing specimens to create the features and focus points for the garden or when looking through the windows of your house.
  • Paving style and finish may be chosen to complement interior floor coverings, now or in the future, especially with the wider use of bi-folding doors. Investing in natural stone with a tumbled or antique finish will provide a softer and more refined look in small spaces.
  • Staggered paving edges, rather than specific cuts that form the edge of the patio or path can be softened with grasses and other slow-growing shrubs, and ensure the finished paving height is slightly lower than the lawn to make mowing easier.
  • Unless you are creating a drain adjacent to your house, your paving surface should have a slight fall to allow water drainage. The use of slate chippings in planting beds and pathways are ideal for helping soakaway water.
  • Plan your patio space considering the size of the table you will want, and allow plenty of room for people to sit comfortably and still walk around to serve drinks or food. We recommend a minimum of 1m2 per person as a starting point.
  • The illusion of greater depth may also be helped by the use of a “trompe l’oeil” feature such as mirrors using toughened glass or a painted scene inside trellis against walls or as backdrops to sitting areas, that will also enable seasonal climbers to bring colour and the aroma of scents into your space.
  • Consider the provision for cable ducting with a pull line under hard surfaces that can allow the future inclusion of lighting or a water feature. Its location should enable access to an interior plug point that a certified electrician can add an RCD termination and switching. A small water feature will also add to the feel of tranquillity, along with well-positioned spotlights which will bring your garden space alive at night.
  • Ensure a suitable sub base is used that is well compacted, or your patio/pathway may settle and crack over time. If your garden has a history of holding water think about the extra depth to the sub-base, which should typically be 100-150mm in depth if applying a hard landscape solution such as natural stone or porcelain tiles.

Most of all remember good planning and investing in good quality materials will mean your patio and garden will evolve over time and be an ideal space for enjoyment and an excellent investment that will add to the value of your home.

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