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How to Revamp a Patio
Many of us inherit patios that are not what we would have chosen. A level place to sit, eat, and for children to play are the bottom line patio requirements. If they are basically sound, and there are other more pressing calls on your budget and time, there are many ways for you to revamp a patio.
you will need
You will only use them according to which jobs are necessary: pressure hose (can be hired); watering can; Jeyes' fluid; stiff garden broom; floor paint suitable for concrete; roller or brush to apply; chalk or soluble felt pen to mark up slabs; pick axe or strong metal bar to lift slabs; sack trolley to move slabs; wheelbarrow, spade; fork; garden compost; suitable plants; sand for relaying slabs; slabs to match or contrasting paving material such as block pavers, bricks decking tiles; a piece of timber to use as a screed.
To get rid of dirt and grime, a generous moss covering can be treated first using a solution of Jeyes fluid. Keep this away from plants and follow solution rates on the bottle. Leave for a few days. Then use the pressure hose to power clean the area. If you have good water pressure, a variable spray attachment fixed to a garden hose can deliver sufficient power. Special patio cleaners can help, but are not usually necessary. Brush debris out of corners; use a hoe for stubborn patches.
You can transform the colour of a patio you don't like by repainting the slabs. There may be just one colour of a two-tone patio that you want to remove, or you may want to change the whole area. Paint patios on a dry day, using masking tape to shield neighbouring slabs and surfaces from paint. Work out a route if you need to get back across to the house - you may have to paint it in stages. You can develop a pattern and use more than one colour for a really individual look.
If the patio seems too big or if you want to soften the hard surface try introducing planting pockets. Work out how you use the patio to get into the garden, back to the house and other major access routes. Plan which slabs can be lifted to create planting pockets. Avoid making a spotty look with your planting pockets. Mark the slabs you plan to remove with chalk or felt pen. Then lift the slabs one by one using the pick axe (these can be hired) or metal bar. Dig out the hardcore or rubble beneath and remove. Dig down with your spade to work the soil, about one and a half spades depth will do. Empty soil onto the surrounding slabs temporarily - cover with a sheet of plastic if you want to protect them. Use a fork to puncture the soil at the bottom of the hole. Add some garden compost to improve the soil, mixing it together as you refill the hole. The pocket is now ready for planting. Choose plants which are suitable for the conditions: mat forming plants such as thymes and mound forming alpines may be ideal. Corsican mint, chamomile and thymes can withstand moderate trampling and release fragrance when crushed and in sunlight. If you're really adventurous you may want to create a chequer board herb garden, another alternative is to put planted containers in the spaces.
Uneven patio slabs are a real safety hazard for everyone. This is particularly true where they are in a position which cannot be avoided e.g. right in front of a doorway, on the main route through the garden, or around the clothes drying area. Lift slabs which have become raised, and those that wobble or rock when stepped on. Either prepare the spaces and relay the existing slabs, or decide that you can regroup the bulk of the slabs, and repave the remaining section with a different material for a contrasting texture.
You can check out other possible improvements. A circular feature may suit your garden style and fit your patio space. You can buy these off the shelf in precut kits. Bricks must be frost proof, you may want to use reclaimed ones. Decide on which bond or pattern you want to lay them in. Using bricks and blocks straight (e.g. basket weave) rather than at an angle (e.g. herringbone) will keep cutting to a minimum and be easier to join into an existing rectangular patio. Decking tiles or planks are very fashionable if you're looking for a material to replace an old one. Deck tiles can also be put into a framework of an exiting slab patio. Similarly, rectangular decks can be bought in kit form. It may be possible to build one without excavating further, making an interesting change in level, with the deck one step up. Always follow manufacturers' installation guides.
Changing the colours can be a good start
If the patio seems a bit featureless take up some slabs
And fill the spaces with plants
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