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Patio Preparation: Putting The Groundwork In

A new patio can breathe new life into your garden, giving a high-end look and providing you with a great place to sit whilst enjoying the sunny weather. Bradfords has all you need to create the perfect patio, but it’s important to put the groundwork in and ensure all bases are covered when it comes to the preparation.

What You Will Need

Landscape design projects require numerous tools, and the following will come in handy when creating your patio foundations:

  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Trowel
  • Knee pads
  • Ear defenders
  • String
  • Pegs
  • Builder’s square
  • Spirit level
  • Diamond disc cutter (available from our Tool Hire Centres)
  • Vibrating plate compactor (optional), available from our Tool Hire Centres)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Bucket
  • Sharp sand/cement mixture
  • Hosepipe
  • Hardcore

If you’re planning on a particularly large patio, you may also require additional items, such as a mini excavator. The Bradfords tool hire sectionmay be useful to you.


Before you even think about laying slabs, it’s important to plan out the exact area that your patio will cover. Draw a detailed scale plan and mark out any elements – such as drains, plants and water features – that you wish to incorporate.

The planning stage isn’t just about dimensions though, you’ll need to ensure your patio is sloped gradually away from the house to avoid drainage problems, and also that it’s 150mm below the damp course of your home. You’ll also need to decide on the type of patio slabs that you want to use, so you can plan how many you need to buy. Our supplier, Stonemarket, have a really useful calculator and design guides to help you create your dream garden.

From Firedstone sunrise to Firedstone dusk, and everything in between, we’ve got every paving option you could possibly imagine.

Measuring & Marking

It’s wise to dry lay your slabs before you begin, to ensure you’re happy with the planned result – especially if creating patterns or cutting slabs to size.

Use pegs, string and a builder’s square to transfer your paper plan to the ground, and be sure to mark lines on each of your pegs to show where the hardcore, mortar bed and paving slabs should all begin and end.

Preparing The Foundations

The final stage before laying slabs is to create a solid foundation. Existing paving or turf should be removed, and the area dug down to around 150mm in order to ensure stability. Spread out a layer of hardcore to a depth of between 50mm and 80mm, and spread out evenly – you may also wish to use a compactor to make it even more stable. Follow this with a mortar bed – a combination of sharp sand, cement and water – which should be mixed just before laying your slabs.
Tips from the expert

Our paving expert Clive says that when preparing the ground for your patio, you will need to ensure that you are 150mm below the damp course for your home, then dig down a further 150mm to lay the foundations, so 300mm in total. If you’ve got any questions then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.