Installing paving and edging in a garden

The placement of the garden path can massively affect the feel of an outdoor space, dividing it up into sections and emphasising different areas of the design. Choice of paving materials can also seriously affect the aesthetic of a garden and picking ones that work with the general feel of the space is essential.

It’s always worth making sure your client has given it sufficient thought before you get started.

  • 1. First considerations

    There are a few things you’ll probably ask your client to consider before you get started:

    1. Will the path be a primarily functional one leading straight to a door, or will it wind around the garden in a decorative manner?
    2. How wide do they want the path to be? Ideally the path should be broad enough for two people to walk next to one another, but your client may have a particular vision in mind already for its width.
    3. What material will work best with the look of the garden? The options you might present include gravel, paving slabs and block paving, coping stones, concrete paving or smaller pavers that might work well with more creative patterns.
  • 2. Laying the path

    The steps may vary a bit depending on the type of path and garden you’re working with, but, as you know, the key issues that are likely to come up are often similar:

    • Solid foundations – a firm foundation and sensible drainage solutions will ensure your path lasts while enhancing the garden’s condition.
    • The right angle – as you know, paths should slope slightly away from walls.
    • Compacting and compressing – hiring a plate compactor for a job like this can be a worthwhile investment, since it will ensure your sub base is as compressed as possible and reduce the risk of subsidence further down the line.
    • Splitting blocks – again you’ll need the right equipment for resizing your paving slabs or other paving materials. We’d suggest hiring a disc cutter at the same time as your plate compactor.

    paved patio with pond feature

  • 3. Paving and edging: three things to think about

    There’s a bit more to paving and edging than this, but a quick run-down of things you’ll consider on a typical job might include the following:

    1. Has your client given you enough time?

    Most jobs will start with digging a strip at the edge of the sub base and laying concrete footings. With the concrete dry and your spirit level close to hand, you’ll move onto putting down the bed of mortar followed by the edging blocks on top. This is where timings can get tricky; the mortar will take roughly three days to set, and clients need to realise this well in advance in case the time frame they have in mind is unrealistic.

    2. Plate compactor or no plate compactor?

    The next step involves forming your one-metre-wide bays, each marked by two timber levelling strips, filling them with sand and spreading it flat with a trowel. This is where the equipment you’re using can start to really make a difference. In particular, you’ll be thinking about whether you have access to a hired plate compactor or not. If you’ve decided to invest in one (often worth it for big jobs), you’ll be taking into account the fact that it will reduce the sand level by several millimetres.

    3. Which slabs to pick?

    By the time you’ve reached the final step of laying your slabs and pushing them into place with your plate compactor or club hammer, you’ll probably have had a few discussions with your clients about slab choices. Some will be happy to let you pick, while others will have something specific in mind; in either case, it’s worth making sure they’ve thought about all the different paving slab options available. If you want more information on laying a path, paving and edging, take a look at this Stonemarket Vitrified Installation Video.


  • How do I install a garden path?

    We suggest following the steps below when installing a garden path – bear in mind that these steps may change depending on the type of path and garden.

    • Lay down a solid foundation
    • Get the right angle
    • Ensure your sub base is compact and compressed
    • Split blocks and resize paving slabs
  • What do I need to consider before installing garden paving?

    The first questions you’ll want to ask yourself if you’ve got a paving and edging job should be:

    • Will the path be a primarily functional one leading straight to a door, or will it wind around the garden in a decorative manner?
    • How wide do they want the path to be?
    • What material will work best with the look of the garden?