Landscape Design for Beginners
For many home owners, improving the outdoor landscape is something of a priority. It not only adds value to the home but also allows you to live in an environment that is representative of your ideas and personality.
If you want to freshen up your landscape then it shouldn’t be too difficult to establish a plan yourself.
One of the most important things to establish first is what your requirements are when it comes to your landscape. You’ll need to establish what it is in your landscape that is important to you. Questions like “what problems do I have with my current landscape?” and “how can my landscape make life easier?” will go a long way to helping you map out a plan.
Certus Pavers and Stepping Stones can provide a cost effective solution to these questions. Some of the objectives you might have in mind, could be building a new vegetable garden, establishing better access ways through paving stones or coping with unfavourable slopes.
The key is to think big because with any landscaping project you can always do things in stages. Landscaping for the DIY person will be more manageable by developing your overall plan for your section, then dividing it up into manageable tasks.
Evaluating your current pathways should be on the agenda. Installing pavers, base pavers or stepping stones between garden beds or from the house to the shed will make a huge improvement to the functionality and aesthetics of your landscape. Pavers can store the heat of the sun during the day, gradually releasing the warmth as night falls.
You’ll also need to consider how your landscape is viewed from inside the home and as visitors approach it.
Choosing Your Landscaping Supplies
Once you’ve decided on the design and layout of your landscape you’ll need to select the landscape supplies you’d like to feature.
Certus Pavers manufacture and deliver landscape supplies to Manawatu, Kapiti Coast, Levin, Palmerston North, Whanganui,as well as some Wellington areas. These stepping stones, pavers and exposed aggregates add great value, functionality and appeal to any landscape.
How to lay pavers.
Before we get to the laying, we need to consider a few things.
Where will the water go?
Check where rain will accumulate or flow to. Your pavers will need to have a slight fall in the direction you want. You need a minimum of half a percent fall across the area to be paved. You can have more than that, but no less. Use this chart to help calculate your fall.
Fall amount of fall in mm
0.5p/c 5 10 15 20 25
1p/c 10 20 30 40 50
2p/c 20 40 60 80 100
Distance in metres 1 2 3 4 5
Make sure this fall takes the water in a direction that is ok for water. Onto your garden or lawn is ok. Into the house or the neighbours is not ok!!
Large areas of paving may need a separate drainage system.
PLAN THE LAYOUT OF PAVERS.
Decide on the height. Do you want your paved area to be the same height as the lawn so you can mow over it? Or slightly raised?
Pavers need to contained within borders so they do not move. You can cement the outside pavers or install a separate border. This could be a cement nib, timber, sleepers, bricks or anything secured into the ground that will not move.
This border sets the shape and height of the paved area so it’s worth spending time to get it right. Remember the fall!
The firmness of the ground below the pavers is vital to the final product.
Remove the topsoil and any organic matter from within the borders. A simple way of testing the firmness of the ground is to walk on it. If you can not dig your heel in as you walk the ground is hard enough. If your heel sinks in then you will need extra base to accommodate the soft ground.
For firm ground use 100mm base. For soft ground use 200mm base.
Calculate your total excavation using this guide.
Paver thickness (certus pavers are 50mm)
plus 10mm sand
plus 100mm base ( firm ground ) or 200mm for soft.
For firm ground you will need 160mm excavated below the top of the borders. Use a straight edge or a string line to ensure accuracy across the area to be paved.
Once excavation is done you can install the base material. AP40 aggregate is ideal. Your local landscape supply outlet will have a source of this or something just as good. To calculate how much you need use this formula.
Width x length x depth = cubic metres.
Paved area is 4.2metres long and 2.5metres wide. The depth of the base material is 200mm because the ground is soft. So—
4.2 x 2.5 x .2 = 2.1cubic metres.
You will need to compact this aggregate. You can stomp it down using people power. Or you can hire a small plate compactor. Use a sprinking of water as you compact. This will help tighten up the aggregate. Remember to measure down from your borders and straight edge so you get the right level. You want to be at 60mm below the finish level. (50mm paver plus 10mm sand ). Be fussy here!! It really matters to the final product. You want the aggregate to be smooth, hard and level.
Next you spread 10mm sand on the aggregate. Your landscape supply outlet will have something suitable.
You do not need to compact this.
Laying the pavers
There are a few patterns to pick from when laying pavers. Practice with a few first on the lawn to see what you like. Generally it is best to avoid long lines of joins. Cross hatching breaks up the look well. Don’t worry about having gaps between the pavers. It is the gaps that separate pavers from cement pads.
Envisage approaching the paved area from the most likely direction. Like through the gate, or from the patio. Plan your laying from this perspective.
Be carefull with your body during this process. Pavers are heavy and can cause back injuries, muscle soreness, cramps. The list goes on. Wear steel toed shoes to protect your feet.
Make sure the pavers can not move as you place them. Especially no rocking. This will cause pavers to break. Don’t worry if the gaps are a little different as you go. Stick to the layout plan.
This is specialized work and requires special equipement. Often DIY’ers will plan the layout to fit the size of the pavers so no cutting is needed.
If you need to cut pavers there are options. If you own a hand held angle grinder, and you are familiar with using one, you can get blades to cut pavers. Usually a light dribble of water helps with the cutting and reduces dust. You can also rent paver cutters from commercial hire shops. Make sure you get some instruction on the safe use of all this gear.
If the shape of the paved area is curved or goes around objects, like trees or bbq’s, you will have to cut something. Don’t worry if your cutting doesn’t fit all that well. The next step will hide many sins!!
Locking the pavers
Once the pavers are all in place, including any cut pieces, you need to apply a locking sand. This product is available from building supply outlets. It contains a glue and an expanding agent. It is dry and very fine. Pour a little from the bag onto dry pavers. ( dry is important )
Use a broom to brush the sand into all the joins. Keep brooming until each crack is filled with sand. Be carefull to clear the sand off the pavers.
Once you are done re-check the whole area. Don’t hesitate to go over it a second time if you have missed a few spots. Remember this is a job for dry pavers and a dry day.
Now you are going to hose down the locking sand and all the pavers. Normal hose and town water pressure is enough. If you have a low pressure setup, then consider a light water blaster.
Hose off all the sand that is not in the cracks. The sand that is in the cracks will stay there. It will harden quickly and expand in the cracks, tightening up the whole paved area. You will see a foam coming off it as you hose. This is normal. Keep hosing until you have washed all surplus sand away. This is important because this type of sand will stick to the pavers and coat it as it dries.
Finally, coat the paved area with a paver sealant. This is a liquid sealer that can be bought from building supply outlets. This will give the pavers a consistent look in any weather and prevent staining from spills. This can be brushed on, rolled on or sprayed on. Apply when all the pavers are dry. Even if you have to wait a week or so.
Follow the instructions for the application of sealant and it will protect your pavers for years.