Hard landscaping - paving, block paving, paths and patios ...

  • The hard landscaping of a garden needs to complement the planting
  • If it does not, the whole garden can look fragmented
  • The front and side of many homes needs to be paved for car standing
  • Block paving is a durable and good looking alternative to tarmac or concrete
  • Professionals will prepare and lay your paving to a high standard of workmanship
  • Leaving you with a neat and attractive garden or car standing


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For block paving that will remain level and solid for years, it is probably best to use a professional company. However, if you are unable to afford that, it is possible to do the job yourself. Here we offer you an outline guide as to how block paving should be laid properly. Please do not take this as a set of definitive instructions, more as a starting point. There are plenty of places on the Internet and plenty of DIY books that you can use to make sure that you know exactly what you are doing. We suggest that you start with a small trial area to develop your skills, perhaps putting in a block paving garden path first before moving on to do something as big as your drive, car standing or patio. Remember also that a drive or car standing will take heavier traffic than a path and so it is absolutely essential that a thorough job is done. Bolck paving is an example of a permeable paving system.

Bear in mind that it is a fairly complex process to work out the correct structure to apply to your block paved driveway or car standing although the system described here is probably fine for most residential situations.

Block Paving Regulations and Planning Permission

When installing block paving, you will need to observe any building regulations and you may need hard surfacing planning permission, contact Derby City Council (or whatever your local council may be) planning department for advice. Under certain circumstances, you may need block paving planning permission and need to construct a soak away or rain garden (e.g. if the driveway slopes in towards the house) so that your block paving driveway in Derby will comply with the regulations introduced in 2008. It was realised that paving over front gardens was having a negative impact on groundwater levels and urban drainage systems so the government planners got their heads together and worked out how this could be reversed. Clearly it was not possible to reverse the trend of converting front gardens to hard standing, however, if the water that would have soaked into the garden was directed into the water table at the property that would ameliorate both issues.

Block Paving Professionals

In the Derby area, there are plenty of small to medium size businesses that offer block paving, just consult the yellow pages.

Advertise your Derby, Burton on Trent or South Derbyshire Block Paving business here for just £20 per year - click here to contact us.

Why so cheap? We are happy to support local businesses but would appreciate a little cash in return for the time spent adding your details to the site, updating them if necessary and to cover the time that we spend promoting the site in the search engines.

DIY Block Paving

Even if you don't intend to DIY block paving, this information might help you to decide if a company is reputable or not.

The first stage of block paving construction is to remove the existing surface, whether it be the soil, an existing path or a driveway. If you are doing a trial area, it will probably be easy enough to do by hand but if you are working on a drive, it would be faster to hire a mini-digger for a day.

It is best to work out the area based on the size of your paving blocks and to dig a little wider than is required as that makes handling the paving blocks (pavers) easier. Dig out to a depth of about 200 - 250mm deeper than the expected level, allowing a fall of at least 25mm over a distance of 1.5 metres away from the house. The top of the block paving should be at least 150mm below the level of the damp proof course of the house so that means a 'hole' of at least 350mm adjacent to the house. You can check levels using wooden pegs, string and a spirit level. If the surface is quite soft, you will need to dig deeper as you will need a thicker base layer plus a geotextile (not a damp proof membrane, plastic or weed suppressing film, a proper geotextile) which will prevent the base layer material from sinking into the foundation layer.

Once the excavation is completed and compression of the foundation done if needed (either using a vibrating plate compactor or roller), it is time to do the kerbs. These should be set into concrete at the appropriate height and matching the intended fall of the driveway or hard standing. This is a potential problem area for the DIY block paver ... get the width or the fall wrong and it can lead to headaches later. Make sure that the concrete supports the kerbs from below and to the outside of the driveway. It is best practice to have the concrete wider at the base than at kerb level.

Once the concrete is set, you can then add the aggregate that will form the base layer of the works. You can get advice as to the best material to use from your builders merchant. This should be added to the correct depth that you decided before excavation and thoroughly compacted. If you get this wrong then your pavers could sink and create an uneven surface with all the problems that can cause. Hire a vibrating plate compactor or roller. Remember, this is to be the principle load bearing surface which will also allow water to drain into the subsoil.

The next stage is to put in the edging, assuming that you are not using a kerb. As with the kerb, the edging of block paved drives, paths and hard standings should be set in concrete, both underneath and built up like a mini-buttress on the outside of the pavers. This will prevent any sideways motion of the base and the bedding layer, thus keeping the blocks firmly in place. You will need to cut a channel into the compacted base layer in order to achieve at least 100mm depth of concrete. The concrete layer should be about twice the width of the pavers and be wider at the bottom than at the top. Edging against the house needs only to be laid on concrete resting on the top of the base layer.

The final preparation stage is to prepare the bedding layer, this should be arranged such that the pavers stand proud of the correct final level so that they can then be compacted. This is not as straightforward as it sounds and the only way to get it right is by experimentation to find the exact depth needed. It will depend on the pavers, the nature of the sand used for the bedding layer, how much pre-compaction is done and how tightly packed the base layer is. Sand will usually compact by about 30 - 40 %. Pre-compaction is the least troublesome way forward whilst using totally uncompacted sand can take a lot longer in the long run and lead to issues with your block paving in the future.

The correct sand to use for the bedding layer is sharp sand, also known as builder's sand or grit sand, your Derby or Nottingham builders merchant should be able to advise what is best.

When laying the paving blocks themselves, for vehicular use, you should use a herringbone pattern as that distributes the weigh better and is less likely to lead to an uneven surface with use. For other block paving projects, various other patterns can be used as the traffic will be lighter. When placing the blocks, NEVER stand on the bedding screed, always work from the edge or the already laid blocks. Slide each block in vertically since sliding it sideways across the sand will disturb the screed and lead to an uneven surface. Check out the internet for techniques of laying paving blocks as it is not just a case of slapping them down. Once all of the blocks are in place, including the fillers at the edges, they can be compacted down to the correct level.

Good luck! But it is probably worth getting the professionals in unless you have a lot of time on your hands and don't mind risking having a driveway, path, patio or hard standing that becomes uneven within a year or two.

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