Keep digging – Oz isn’t far!

OMG what happened youtube, for laying a patio you didn’t nail it??

Youtube can be my DIY bible.  I’ve watched zillions of ‘how to’ clips and married the best and worst into my own techniques.  So naturally, I figured the videos for laying a patio would be equally as good.

Well, if your garden is perfectly flat, weed-free, has a soil level much lower than your house (for drainage away) as well as being nicely contained within a small, straight-edge area, then youtube hits the spot….  The videos even make patio laying look like a bit of a Sunday afternoon tease.  But other than a brand new, new-build, who has a garden like that?


Combined with tile adhesive companies who advise for a ‘good stick’ you must cover the entire back of the tile with their substrate – thickly – as well as dose the ground with an even thicker, picnic blanket spread else tiles will crack and they won’t last the test of time…

Reality check – This was   a    p a t i o   that I was laying.  

The patio was outside, to become grubby, weed-encrusted, insect dosed and fox-attractor…  It needed to function for drainage and BBQs but it didn’t need to be perfect or a huge money drain.  Yachts and bubbles versus tiles and adhesive – It wasn’t a difficult decision.

So ‘bottoms up’ to Youtube, I made up the method myself!  So far it’s looking good, I’ll let you know in 10 years if a tile cracks, haha!


Critical – Firstly, dig down into the soil so that it slopes away from your house

Critically, for drainage the patio must slope away from your house, as due to the wonderful laws of gravity this means rainwater flows away rather than into your bricks.  Lucky you, if your drainage is tip top already.  I have first hand experience of this not happening whereby the outside soil level used to be higher than the inside floor level in my flat (shockingly by about 30cm!) – So, along with my furry friends that scuttled around on the floor, I became a drowned rat every time it rained!  Not to mention the damp…

What do you need?

  • Edging Iron – Yep, sounds like a golf club but sadly no such fun! I didn’t even know what one of these was until I googled… I bought a wooden one initially that snapped – So buy a metal, heavy duty, sturdy specimen to last
  • Large metal Shovel – Heavy duty.
  • Water – Lots of it, this is back breaking work!
  • Haribo – Very large bag, need to stock up on sugar

How do you do it?

  1. Soil moisture – It’s hard to dig into soil and/or grass (I had both) when it’s dry and hard. It’s even harder when the soil is full of rainwater and so very heavy.  So I suggest you pick a time where it rained not long ago though the large proportion of surface rainwater has now drained from the top soil layers.
  2. Bite-Size – I found it easiest to cut the soil and grass into small horizontal rows about 30cm wide and then cross cut them into smaller, bite-size rectangles about 20cm that fit neatly onto the surface of the trowel. I should be advertising millionnaire’s shortbread….
  3. Heave Hooooo – Position the edging iron with the sharp blade in place for the first cut, put one foot onto one side of the top of its rim (or both, if like me you’re spindly like me and so need all body weight, take a deep breath and heave ho…. Push down into the soil below to make a cut. Keep going until you’ve created bite-size chunks for one whole row
  4. Shovel – Grab the shovel and literally shove the shovel until each bite-sized chunk and move it away. Annoying weeds might try and stop you but don’t give in – Show them who’s boss!  It can be a lot of soil to dispose of so I created higher flower beds on either side of my garden, digging deep only in the middle.
  5. Haribo – Every few shovels I was so physically exhausted I stopped for treats!

me tired

Finally, re-check the soil is roughly level and sloping away from your house.  Then ready for screed.

Go on, take a sneaky peek to admire your good job!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s