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  • Writer's pictureJay Walton

It all starts with the base

When we look at a finished landscaping surface whether it be expensive natural stone or finished concrete surface even when thinking of a pebble surface, the tendency is to try to get as quickly as possible to laying the finished surface.

Unfortunately if we rush through the initial stages of setting our heights or not correctly setting our levels it will cause issues further along which will do a couple of things:

  1. It will slow down the production of the final surface laying.

  2. It will affect the finish as compromises will have to be made when laying.

  3. The surface might have drainage issues that will need to be addressed.

  4. It may cause problems in time where there could be weakness in the base.

To achieve the best finish of any type of outdoor surface it is paramount to first work out your base requirements.

This could be one of the following:

  1. Crushed rock- for less structural finish or flexible type of paving.

  2. Concrete - thickness depends on use of finished surface.

Once the base requirements have been determined, it is important to excavate and install any drains that are required. When excavating it is critical to ensure the depths are correct and the sub base is sound. If there are subbase issues they will need to be rectified prior to moving to installation of the base.

Now the fun can begin. Heights are set our sub base is sound, drains are in. When it's time to order your materials for your base you can be confident of what your needs are as the sub base works are correct, the base installation will be smooth and the base can easily be installed to correct levels with falls to where they need to be. It is imperative at this stage that the base is installed to correct levels as if it's installed too high the installation of the finished surface becomes compromised, it may be that its slowed down or that the method will need to change or that in terms of concrete it becomes to thin in sections and will crack in future.

If it is too low, it will not be that bad for concrete as it will be thicker and mostly stronger, though it will cost more in material and if you using an expensive concrete mix this can add up quickly. For laying pavers again being too low is an issue with more material required plus more man hours to bring in the material, for a pebble finish it means the pebbles might be at the wrong thickness to make that area most useful. When laying pavers on too thick a mortar bed it will slow down the process, require more material. There is also greater chance of pavers lipping as it is easy to knock a paver in to low. When laying on mortar we suggest having between 25-35 mm of mortar. When laying pavers on a sand bed we suggest a 25mm screed will work best. When you base level is too high or too low or both you end up with differing amounts of material making it hard to get a perfectly finished surface.

So as the title says, it all starts with the base. Getting the base right will significantly impact the finish and the longevity of the finished surface. When you take your time with your base it will only improve the finished product and ensure your finished surface will give you years of lasting joy.

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