Paving ideas for your garden

Paving ideas for your garden

Nobody likes a muddy garden and the best way to keep your feet dry in winter is to install some hard landscaping. Here are our favourite paving ideas for your garden.

  • Paths – straight lines, curves, or stepping stones – the choice is yours
  • Patios – go large for outdoor entertaining areas or small and intimate for a secluded seating area.
  • Steps and slopes – make it easier to access all areas if your garden is on an incline
  • Porcelain Paving for a sharp, contemporary look
  • Natural Stone Paving for any style of garden
  • Setts or clay pavers for a traditional feel
  • Mixed materials – create your own, unique paving by mixing tones and textures
  • Alternatives to paving – why not try a different type of hard landscaping?

paving ideas for your garden - a chequered pathway

We have dozens of paving ideas for your garden. In this front garden in Colchester we’ve used black and white tiled paving to complement the wonderful Victorian property.

Planning your Garden Layout

Paving ideas for your garden should always be centred around the garden design.  Before you start choosing colours and materials, think about where you will position your paving and what you want it to achieve for you.

Aiming to keep mud out of the house? You need solid paths to commonly used features in your garden. Ie the shed, the gate, the linen line and the bins.  It’s also a good idea to have an area beside the door where you can take your boots off outside. Maybe a bench with storage beneath it for filthy footwear.

Want to eat al-fresco with friends and family? Your first instinct might be to build a patio beside the kitchen door so that it’s easy to nip in and out with plates. BUT is that really the best place to sit? Where are the sunny spots in your garden? where do you get most privacy? and where is the best view?

What shape would you like your paving to be? Circular? Rectangular? Diamond shaped? Curved? Geometric?

A garden designer will help you to amalgamate your thoughts and come up with a garden layout that really does help you to make the most of your outdoor space.  After all, it’s not easy to lift paving and move it around if you’re not happy with the results.

concept garden design plans

A 3D layout plan like this, really helps you to imagine how you will use your garden once the landscaping has been completed

What does paving cost?

The biggest mistake that many people make is to draw their paving ideas, work out the area and then multiply that area by the price per square metre of the slabs they like.  Well laid paving needs more than just slabs.

First you need to dig out the area – so there’s the price of skips and grab lorries to dispose of the excess soil.

Next there is a sub-base to lay. This can vary according to your soil type, the levels in your garden and the way you intend to use your paving.  It can also be influenced by local planning requirements, particularly if you are paving your front garden.  The sub base needs to be either MOT Type 1 or lean concrete mix. You will also need a whacker plate and many other tools to create a solid base for your paving.

You will need a bed for your pavers. That means mortar for paving or sand for block paving – but again, that may vary from project to project.

Drainage for driveways MUST meet current building regulations but even a simple path or patio needs some kind of water management. As well as drainage channels, you may need to think about manhole covers and electrical fittings if your paving is to incorporate lighting or water features.

Finally come the pavers and the grout along with cutting tools to re-shape any slabs that need to fit around odd angles.

Do you have the skills and the fitness levels to lay paving? It’s harder than you think. When hiring a landscaper – be sure to do your homework and don’t be caught out by rogue traders.  They may seem cheaper or quicker but the trauma of looking at substandard or dangerous paving everyday means that they are actually more expensive.  This article offers some tips on choosing the right landscaper for your project.

Working with a budget? Again, it’s worth investing some of that budget in the services of a good garden designer who knows about the cost involved in landscaping work.  Not only will you understand what the paving ideas for your garden will cost you to implement….the designer will save you hours of pontificating about how to change your garden layout to suit your budget.

blue grass screen

These  pavers complement the colours of the glass screen and reflect the light. Notice too how the contrasting coloured grout links the paving with the brickwork

Choosing paving materials

There are literally thousands of paving materials out there for you to choose from.  Gorgeous porcelain pavers in almost any colour you can think of. Stunning natural stone with fascinating features such as little fossils or sparkles of quartzite. You could opt for brick pavers or natural stone setts – these are great for driveways and paths. Or, you could mix and match materials to create unique designs within your hard landscaping.

Remember that there are also lots of size options to think about when you are considering paving ideas for your garden.  Do you want regular, square pavers? Will you lay them edge to edge or will you go for a diamond pattern? How about long slim pavers to trick your eye into thinking the garden is a different shape? Or would you like to mix things up and make a pattern with your pavers?

wide path leading through a garden to the site for a summerhouse

Don’t feel obliged to use the same size paver throughout. Natural colour variations in this stone combined with an original laying pattern make for lots of interest all year round

Practical matters

I’m sorry to be boring, but paving ideas for your garden need to take into account practical matters too. 

Number 1 is safety – particularly in a sloping garden. It goes without saying that you should be laying your paving so that it’s nice and level with no trip hazards. But what about if that means there is a drop between the patio and the rest of the garden? Planning laws require that you have some sort of barrier to prevent falls. Maybe a balustrade, a wall, or some planters.  

Think about accessibility too.  Do your paving ideas allow for wheelchair access? Ie are they wide enough and are any slopes or steps manageable with a wheelchair or buggy?  You may be lucky enough to be mobile – but what about potential visitors and/or future buyers for you home.

Equally important is the drainage.  Getting the levels right and incorporating a very slight slope allows you to direct rainwater away from your home.  But where will you send that water to? You don’t want to saturate the lawn and you certainly can’t send it into the neighbours garden or out on to the street.

Planning regulations are very strict about creating impermeable surfaces in a front garden. Rightly so – with so many of us paving over gardens, drainage infrastructures could become overwhelmed which will lead to flooding.  Check local laws before starting a project and talk to your landscaper about suitable installation techniques.

Obviously, it would be insanity to pave over the top of utilities such as manhole covers.  There are some clever products to help you overcome that – but be sure to choose the right ones for your circumstances.  A weak manhole cover in a driveway for example, could cause you some very expensive problems in the future.

Alternatives to paving

garden path in grey gravel leading to porcelain patio and outdoor kitchen

Aggregates make a great alternative to paving in some circumstances.  Here, we’ve mixed and matched two landscaping materials to create intrigue and to help manage landscaping costs


Stone and porcelain are not the only option if you are looking for paving ideas for your garden.  How about resin bound surfaces? Gravel and aggregates? Artificial grass? Even decking.  Have a good think and weigh up your options before settling on paving.  After all, you can’t take landscaping back to the shop for a refund if you decide you don’t like it.

Need inspirational paving ideas for your garden?

Take a look at our portfolio pages where you’ll see lots of projects that mix hard and soft landscaping to create beautiful and practical gardens.

Contact us to arrange a garden design consultation

This project in Stanford Le Hope was designed by Tapestry Design Studios and built by Holland Landscapes. Note how the mix of paving materials makes the garden more interesting.   

An unloved back garden in Colchester was totally transformed by Katie’s paving ideas.  She’s used circles to make a long thin garden appear wider.  

Read our tips on designing a garden layout that enhances your lifestyle and your property value.  

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