If you get it right, paving can make such a positive difference to the overall appearance of your front yard. Justin Newcombe takes us through the steps.
Usually a garden is an antidote to the overabundance of hard lines and patterns found inside a house, but achieving a balance outside is still important. The interesting thing about this project is the contrast of the shape of the paved area with the paving itself. It's a curved-off rectangle shape where all the straight, uniform lines only serve to accentuate the area's organic nature.
Even when paving up against an existing surface which you think is perfectly straight (like a driveway or even a house), it pays to double-check using a string line. The smallest deviation will show up in the paving, maybe not in the first or second row, but by the third you may start wondering why the pavers are just not matching up. Working to a string line is vital as it dictates the height of the paving as well as enabling you to get the pavers perfectly straight. Also it is important to pave right up to the string without letting the paver actually touch it. If the line moves with each paver, by the time you get to the end of the row the pavers will be creeping sideways.
I also use plaster in bags (just add water) as it is easy and tidy for a small area. For anything larger I'd use builders sand and cement.
Excavate and clear the ground to allow for 100mm of base course, 20mm of plaster and the paver. Make sure your preparation is thorough. It's all about the edges: don't forget to check they are straight. In my experience most of the time they are not. Because this is already compacted base course I gave it a tap down with a sleeper offcut, but for new ground hire a plate compactor from Bunnings.
Set up a string line at either side of the paved area. I usually wrap the string around a paver because this makes it easy to move the line. Use a set square to check the line is square with existing structures like driveways or houses.
Mix plaster in a concrete mixer or barrow. If making a sand and cement mix, ensure you use the right amount of cement. Wet the ground before placing the plaster on the base course. Spread plaster to the right height then rough it up a little.
Place the paver on the plaster and adjust it so it lines up with the string before you tap it down. Don't bash the paver - even the heaviest paver can crack. If after a gentle few taps the paver is not at the right height, lift it, scrape out a bit of plaster and reset it. Repeat to the end of the row then reset the string.
To fill random gaps left after all the whole pavers are laid, mark and cut any pavers using a large grinder.
Sweep and hose the pavers making sure the gaps between them are clean. Then grout with plaster and sponge off any plaster residue.