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Whether you are starting from scratch or replacing an existing area of paving it may seem like a lot to take on. In reality it is a lot more straightforward than you might think. A beautiful new patio is within easy reach and can transform not only your garden, but your whole living space, both visually and practically.

At Wickes you will find an amazing range of beautiful paving to suit your taste and your budget. You don’t even have to work out the combination of different sizes you need if you choose a patio pack; it is all done for you. You can introduce features and patterns, whether you go for fabulous natural stone or more basic paving stones.

Planning your patio project

Most people plan to build their patio adjacent to the house, especially if doors lead out from a living area. This seems to make sense, but it does depend how much you will use the patio, and what you are going to use it for. If you are going to eat outside regularly, do not locate the patio miles from the kitchen at the far end of the garden, even if that position is sunnier. It’ll be more convenient if it’s closer to the house.

If the patio is mainly a place to sunbathe, then aspect and shelter are both important. You might have to locate the patio further away from the house in an area that gets most daytime sun. Shelter from wind can often be provided with screening shrubs and decorative timber panels.

In most gardens the situation adjoining the house is the best choice for the patio; more mobile sun loungers or seating can then be moved around to enjoy the sun when required...

How much space do you need?

The size of the patio will obviously be influenced by the available space. Again, deciding what you will use the patio for is really important. It can be a good idea to choose the garden furniture first, then plan the size of the patio.  If you really need a six-seat patio set, the clear paved area needs to be big enough to accommodate it with plenty of room around to allow comfortable access. Plus space for a barbecue, plants and anything else you want to incorporate.

If you only want space for a two-seater dining set and a comfy chair, a smaller patio will look more appealing, even if you have the space for a much bigger area.

What about shape?

Your patio does not have to be a regular rectangle, perhaps led by the shapes of the paving an irregular edge and fill the spaces with something from Wickes great range of stone chippings.

Making the right choice

The key to success in choosing the right paving is to take a look at your house. Take a few pictures and take them along when you go to look at the paving in store. If you are making the choice online really consider what your paving options will look like against the material and colour of your house, and the style of your garden. Do not choose paving materials in isolation. It may be advisable to get some samples, put them in situ and imagine what a larger expanse will look like. The paving should not be the dominant feature, it is part of the space of the garden. There to showcase the surrounding planting, pots, furniture and features.

The combination of different sized paving stones you find in patio packs such as Marshalls Indian Sandstone Buff Project Pack sort everything for you to create a patio 15 sq. metres. Cut from natural stone this paving has enough colour variation to make it subtly interesting. Using different sizes of the same stone avoids those straight, angular lines which result from using all square paving stones. Irregular paving patterns sit well in less formal garden settings. Modern homes with clean lines will suit the simpler design of a large square paving laid in a “stack bond”, in other words a simple grid pattern.

Marshalls Smooth Light Grey paving is a smooth, square light grey slab with the sparkle of British granite. It is robust, simple to lay and really good at creating a sense of space in a small area. This would combine well with black weave furniture, or a modern metal patio set with bright cushions. Safety and usability is another important consideration. All of our paving slabs are non-slip and are tested for various levels of slip resistance. Marshalls Saxon Buff paving is an excellent non-slip paving with a textured surface, contemporary in style, but versatile enough to fit into a more traditional setting. The 450 x 450mm slab size is easy to handle and to lay in any space with the minimum requirement for cutting.

Appearance throughout the year

You may think that you only use your outside space in summer, but its appearance in winter is really important. Your patio should look attractive through the windows of the house, enhancing your living space throughout the year. A set of garden furniture under a patio set cover on a barren expanse of paving in midwinter can look drab and uninteresting. If you need to store your furniture over winter, the paving needs to come into its own. Of course you can use pots and containers to add winter interest, and they need to work well with the stone. But this is the time when the expanse of paving becomes really apparent; make sure it is the right size and colour for your needs in summer and for its appearance in the garden in winter

For example Marshalls Fired Stone Autumn paving is a textured paving moulded from original flame treated Mason Fettled flagstones. Its terracotta hue flamed with grey would warm the coldest, dullest garden. Team it up with some terracotta pots filled with colourful evergreens and your patio could look as inviting in the depths of winter as it does in summer. All year round appearance should also influence your choice of furniture. A nice set of hardwood furniture, which can be left out in all weathers can look great, and really inviting on winter days. If it is there, and the patio looks good, you may find you use your outside space more throughout the year.

Getting the surroundings right

Plan to integrate your patio with other surfaces and the planting. Hard edges between paving and lawn can be difficult to maintain. A transitional edge of stone chippings, timber or soft planting joining the lawn and patio can be practical and look good too. A paved area nestled into planting feels more secluded and inviting than a barren space of paving and grass surrounded by fencing.

Of course you could achieve this by incorporating walling around part of your paved area. Wickes carry a great range of garden walling which is easy to build and can really enhance your patio. Walling, probably with the inclusion of steps, is essential if the site is sloping. If the change in level is gradual you could use timber sleepers instead, but a low wall is more substantial and you can choose it to complement your paving. A wall around a raised bed or water feature incorporated into the patio could double up as seating, even if it is just a place to perch and enjoy a coffee. The same is true of a wall around a corner of the patio, if you make it wide enough.

Walling around part of your patio can make the area feel more contained and intimate, however it always looks better against a backdrop of foliage, so make sure you leave space for the planting too.   Joining your patio with the rest of the garden is the secret of success. Using pots and containers with some seasonal planting bring the garden into your home. Bulbs for spring and colourful bedding for summer can be combined with more permanent evergreen plants. Maybe an olive tree in a pot to give the patio a Mediterranean feel, or a hardy palm for a touch of the tropics. Maybe the patio is your whole garden? That’s not a limitation. It is a fantastic opportunity to focus the planting into containers.  In any case you need to allow space for them. Be bold: nice big pots and plenty of them.

Maintenance

In a sunny, open position a well-laid paved surface should be maintenance free, apart from the occasional sweep up. Whether you lay the paving yourself, or get someone else to do it, think about drainage. Follow Wickes recommendations for laying your patio. Keep the surface well below the damp course of the house and allow a gentle fall away from the house to prevent rainfall from building up against the brickwork. A drainage channel filled with gravel, pebbles or stone chippings along the wall of the house and around the patio really helps with drainage on heavy soils.

Making an entrance

The way to a beautiful driveway

Just as a patio can enhance your garden, a beautiful driveway can have a real impact on the appearance of your home. A driveway is more than just a place to park the car, or bring in the shopping; more than just a skate park, or all weather pitch, it is also the setting for your house. It should look welcoming, but it should also be hard working and resilient.

Just like laying a new patio, laying a new driveway sounds like quite a challenge. In fact it is easier than you might think, especially when the groundwork is done. Using block paving or natural stone is pretty straightforward. The paving stones need to hold together and settle, so they are best laid on a base they can settle into, rather than on solid concrete. They are also lighter and easier to handle than paving slabs; tougher and more resistant to damage. Once laid they form a hard wearing, load bearing surface that is permeable and allows rainwater to drain through. They are easy to sweep and keep clean, last indefinitely and will not budge when you park the car on them.

Choosing the right block paving

At Wickes you will find a fantastic range of block paving and driveway natural stone setts to choose from. Whether you have a modern contemporary home or a traditional property, there is bound to be something to suit. Do avoid choosing your driveway materials in isolation. What looks great in a picture may not be right for your house. This is a big project, and an important one, so making the right choice of materials at the outset is essential.

Exactly the same rules apply as for choosing the right paving for your patio. Your driveway materials need to tie in with the fabric and style of your house. This is even more important in the case of the driveway, because it is so visible with the front of the house as a whole. The driveway is not there to dominate; it is there to complement and enhance.

A traditional red brick house will look best with a light or dark grey sett, or possibly a lighter shade of block.

The brindle blocks, with a mix of red and grey shades running through them are deservedly popular because they work with such a wide range of brick colours.

Buy Brindle Blocks 

Warm, Cotswold stone, paving stones look best with similar stone, or much browner building bricks.

Buy Cotswold Stone 

Because you need to lay a solid edge around your block paving, it can look good to define this by using a different shade. For example dark grey blocks look good with a red and grey brindle edge against a red brick house. Because the blocks are small units they are easy to fit into curves without much cutting, so your driveway can have sweeping lines if space permits.

Buy Marshalls Natural Slate Paving 

Softening the edges

A driveway will always look more attractive if you leave some space around it for planting, and soften the edges a little with some evergreen foliage. Obviously you do not want the plants to be an obstacle to those using the driveway, but planting alongside avoids that hard, retained edge which is bound to display signs of construction. Repeating the same plants such as dwarf hebes, euonymus, lavender and sage along a driveway is a great way to really join it with the garden landscape.