DIY is a big thing for us Brits and, assuming that spring is on its way, now is the time that many homeowners start to plan their projects. And one of the key areas that will be revamped as we move towards warmer months is the garden. With dreams of BBQs and dining al fresco many people will be doing up their outdoor space.

If garden paving is on your to do list, read on for some handy hints and tips.

You’ll need various materials and equipment, including sand, cement, paving flags, a spirit level, wheelbarrow, rubber mallet, shovel and so on.

But before you pick up your tools spend some time to plan the paving. Draw a simple diagram of your garden and work out the best use of your space. Be aware of changes in the level of the ground as sharp gradients can make laying paving slabs very tricky.

When you are happy with your design map out the paved area using string and pegs. Cut out turf from this area and clear a space slightly larger than the finished paved area. Dig out the area, deep enough for the sub-base, depth of the slab and mortar. If building a patio next to your house the surface must be at least 150mm below the damp-proof course.

Fill with hardcore and compact this down, then cover the surface with sharp sand and rake it level. This ends the preparation stage and you can now dry-lay the slabs to check the pattern works.

There must be a slight slope so that surface water drains away, so decide which way this will be. Use pegs and a spirit level to mark out the surface height. Layer mortar at the same gradient.

Finally you can start to lay the slabs. Wet the back side with a brush to help it slide into position and carefully lay it on top of the mortar. Use a rubber mallet to tap each slab into position, filling gaps underneath with mortar. Spacers should be used to ensure the gaps between each slab are equal and the slabs should be set in rows in the direction of the slope.

Mortar should be left to set for 48 hours and must not be walked on in this time. The joints can then be filled with a mix of dry mortar, sharp sand and cement brushed into the spaces. Repeat this process, pushing the mix down after each application. Finally add water using a watering can to help set the mortar.

Laying garden paving will certainly take some time and concentration, but it is not too mammoth a task so long as you plan thoroughly and take your time. Do not rush at any stage and get expert advice if you start to feel out of your depth. There is no point carrying on only to realise you have done something wrong and have to start over again.

Take your time and you will soon have a garden to be proud of.

This guest post was contributed by Holly Powell on behalf of Corfe Stone, a leading supplier in paving slabs and edging.