Help to choose new patio paving for your garden.

Whatever your garden design, the material and cut of the stone you choose for your patio will have a big impact both on style and cost. You need to have paving and decking that is slip-resistant, durable and low maintenance and while good-quality materials cost more, they will last longer.

So, where do you start?

Firstly, materials. Garden designers often use more than one material but not more than four to avoid a busy look. That’s enough to break up any monotony caused by just using the same material, but not so many that you lack unity of design.

So, what colour to choose? Well, subtle is usually best as you are less likely to get tired of it: honey, deep brick red, dark grey and earthy brown are popular. Decking can look good with wooden or glass exteriors.

What about paving style? If you fancy a more traditional design, consider split riven sandstone, river worn gravel or rustic clay pavers. For a more modern look go for quartzite, sawn limestone or planed oak (though remember, cut, planed or sanded materials are often more expensive). But it’s up to you – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t mix and match old and new if you’ve got an idea that you like. If you can, use local materials for authenticity.

To make your space appear bigger, use the same material inside and out – just be aware that whatever you choose will have to be slip-resistant, frost-proof and fade free. Natural stones will work and so will cheaper porcelain which can be made to look like wood or stone. Remember that concrete imitation paving won’t change in its appearance but materials like natural stone and oak will weather with age, often looking better and better.

Your choice of materials and how they affect the environment requires some thought too. According to rules introduced in 2008, impermeable surfaces mustn’t be bigger than five square metres in a front garden unless angled to a lawn or flowerbed. If you want to exceed that size, you’ll need to get planning permission. But, plenty of permeable alternatives are available such as gravel, block paving or reinforced grass, and if you want an eco-friendly patio consider permeable tarmac, bound gravel or porous paving.

What about cost? Obviously, the cost of the patio slabs is going to depend on quantity and quality, design, size and construction. Split stone is cheaper than cut natural stone while loose gravel is cheaper than resin-bound gravel. Concrete imitation paving costs less than the real thing and is quicker to lay.

You’ll have to factor in machinery and labour which will vary depending on where you live but you can expect to pay between £75 and £100 per square metre for someone to prep and bed down the paving slabs on a mortar mixture.

Do your research and remember to get quotes from at least three contractors. Local materials are usually, but not always, cheaper – and reclaimed materials are highly likely to be more expensive.

After all that, when you’ve got your lovely new patio, enjoy it – just make sure you’ve got a stiff brush and a pressure washer.

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