Paths and Patios – How to Choose the Right Materials
Choosing the Right Materials for Your Path or Patio
A wide variety of materials may be used to construct paths, patios and steps. These range from solid or precast concrete to sliced logs, from bricks and blocks to old railway sleepers. Some materials are more permanent than others, and each creates a different visual impression.
In many instances it is possible to combine various materials for effect as well as convenience. For example, a simple stepping-stone path, created with precast slabs or sliced tree trunks, may join up with conventional brick steps leading to a brick-paved patio.
A cobbled pathway might meander from a substantial stairway built from concrete cast in situ, while a flagstone and ground-cover path could connect timberwith a slate-tiled patio. However, take care not to mix too many different surface materials, as the effect could become disjointed rather than interesting.
What materials you eventually decide to use is largely a matter of personal choice, although it is always best to complement those used to construct existing features elsewhere in the garden such as planters, barbecues and garden walls, as well as the house itself.
The architectural style of the house and the materials used to create this style are also important considerations which should not be overlooked.
You may find that there are several different surfacing materials which are suitable for your garden plan. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each, taking into consideration cost factors, safety and ease of construction before making a decision.
Weighing Up the Cost
It is always vital to cost a project accurately before embarking on the building programme. If you plan properly, you will be able to establish a budget which you can stay within. Inadequate planning often leads to delays and hitches which waste time as well as materials.
If you are going to do the work yourself, you will need to quantify materials and assess any additional costs. The main materials (paving bricks, concrete, precast paving slabs and so on) are just one part of the cost factor: it is also important to price everything else required for building, from cement, sand and stone to drainage pipes, conduiting, plants and lighting accessories. Once you have decided which construction methods you are going to use, examine yourand make sure you have all the tools required. If you plan to hire any tools, make allowance for the fees involved.
Digging holes for foundations, mixing concrete and transporting heavy materials through the garden can be particularly arduous tasks.
If you are likely to need assistance, include labour charges — even family members may demand remuneration!
Finally, itemise the various elements (basic construction cost, finishes, lighting, planting) and complete the project in phases if necessary.
Even if you are planning to call in professionals (perhaps to level the site before you start, or to pave the patio), it is vital to avoid expensive mistakes and unnecessary wastage.