The original garden was typical Irish suburban, much like the builders left it 30-odd years ago. A grass lawn, some overgrowth of shrubs (and briars), and a tumbledown shed.
At first the plan was to remove the old shed, perhaps simply pave the area as a barrier against the re-emergence of briars, then replace the structure with another shed. But once we'd taken out the rotten timber, shrubs and weeds, the area was such a natural sun trap that it seemed a pity to give it over to another hostel for unwanted junk. So the idea of a patio was born.
Despite the precaution of digging up roots and weeds, these can grow back over time, so to inhibit these a membrane is laid, leaving enough overlap all around. Membranes can be bought by the roll in most DIY or Garden centres and they are pinned to the soil to stop slippage using plastic pegs that can be bought seperately. The membrane is water permeable, so the underlying ground won't dry out, useful if you plan on having plants coming up through it, for example. The roll is about four to five feet in width, so it's necessary to overlap sections and (as in this image) seal the overlaps with gaffer tape.
I proposed enclosing the supporting sand base to the slabs in a ring of concrete blocks. The blocks were laid on a bed of mortar made from sand and cement laid directly onto the membrane. There is no additional digging as I'm relying on the ring of blocks not to move on the already dug and stable ground. I suppose time will test that theory. The membrane is then covered in medium washed sand obtained from a builders' providers.
To fill the first "cell" took about two tonnes of sand. The sand is then screeded with a straight timber so that it can be levelled off. Once any imperfections have been filled or planed with the shovel as necessary, the surface is ready for the slabs to be laid out.
Naturally the cats had to try walking on the surface first to see if it was up to standard.
We bought Indian Quartz slabs from Roadstone and as they came in three different sizes, they were first laid out to test the pattern. The desired effect was a rough surface, and these slabs come with a naturally uneven one. The slabs would ultimately be mortared securely into place, but for now the laying out was simply done dry.
That concludes the work two-thirds of the width of the garden. The other side having a dilapidated wooden fence and hedge it was necessary to have these pulled out and a new garden wall constructed before continuing with the rest of the paving work. I'll post more information on that later project when I can.