Where grass just won’t grow, it may be time to consider the alternatives, and one of the best is paving. Converting from a soft surface to hard has certain advantages – you can cut back on the entire time it takes for you to mow, feed and water your yard, for a start!
Worn-out lawn areas are usually the result of excessive wear, often because they have become high-traffic routes through the garden. Paving not only solves appearance issues, but also offers a safer and less slippery walking surface. It’s a simple job you can do yourself with fairly basic equipment a little know-how. So take a look at how easy it is to transform a barren patch into paved perfection.
Gather your supplies
• Wooden garden stake
• Road base
• River sand
• Long scaffold plank
• Recycled bricks
• Grey cement
You’ll also need
Stringline; set-out paint; plate compactor (hired); screed; spirit level; screed rails; spade; wheelbarrow; mallet; bolster; trowel; measuring tape; pebbles or decorative tiles (optional)
Place wooden garden stake in centre of your proposed circle and attach stringline (string should be half the width of the circle). Attach other end of stringline to set-out paint can and, keeping line tight, mark out circumference of your circle. Remove wooden stake.
Remove soil within circle to a depth of 120mm, paying special attention to maintaining a smooth line around outer edge.
Once area is excavated and level, add road base to a depth of about 50mm. Spread base using a rake to ensure even coverage, then compact with plate compactor. Make several passes over area to compact road base to about 30mm.
Spread river sand over compacted road base. Using spirit level and screed, level sand to a depth of about 15mm. Screed rails assists with this process. Set rails into sand with their top sitting at required level, then slide screed across rails.
Position long scaffold plank across circle. This will distribute your weight and minimise any impressions on sand’s surface. Measure from several angles in order to find true centre of circle and put wooden garden stake at centre. Attach 1 end of stingline to stake and other end to trowel. Using 1 recycled brick as a guide, mark a guide circle in sand.
Starting at outside edge and following guide circle, lay first course of bricks. This header course (most outer course) should run perpendicular to centre, from outside facing inwards. Work around existing garden beds, if necessary.
Split bricks in half by placing bolster in centre and tapping firmly with mallet or a hammer. Using half bricks, lay second course.
Continue to lay bricks, alternating between whole- and half-brick courses. Leave a gap in centre about 30cm across.
Mix up mortar using river sand and grey cement at a ratio of 4:1 with enough water to create a toothpaste-like consistency. Fill centre gap with mortar. Using trowel, press a flower pattern into mortar. You could also press in pebbles or decorative tiles.
Secure outer course of bricks in position by creating a mortar haunch. Keep mortar wide at base, tapering towards top. Allow to set for 48 hours.
Mix a portion of grey cement through river sand in wheelbarrow and use to fill gaps in paving. Using a broom, sweep sand mix across paving until all gaps are filled and sand mix is level with top of brickwork.