Paving the way

Paving the way

Laying your own patio is a very plausible DIY job. Just bear in mind where the stones come from, and the damage they can do to your back

In an effort to reduce the risk of flooding, the government recently “declared war” on those intent on covering their front gardens with asphalt. While we’re not advocating turning your garden into a concrete jungle, an area of paving – stone, concrete, brick, geometric or even crazy – can look great. What’s more, it’s possible to source eco-friendly, ethical materials. So, if you’re thinking of laying a designated area for al fresco dining, you can do so with a clear conscience.

For a durable terrace that will weather well, natural stone is preferable to concrete. However, it has been reported that Indian sandstone – popular for its quality and relative cheapness – is, in some cases, extracted from illegal quarries that rely on child labour. And that’s before you even begin to consider the shipping miles involved in importing the materials.

Thankfully there are eco-friendly alternatives. If you have your heart set on Indian sandstone, source it from a supplier who is signed up to the Ethical Trade Initiative. If you are using concrete slabs, buy those made from a mix of recycled aggregates or those that replace Portland cement with materials salvaged from landfill sites such as pulverised fuel ash (PFA) or ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS). Alternatively, visit your local salvage yard or recycling facility and see if you can create a patio from abandoned materials.

A note about cleaning: patios and paths can become slippery when wet, especially if moss, oil or grease have built up on the surface. Regular cleaning with a pressure washer and a patio cleaning solution (washing-up liquid will do) will remove the grime and help prevent any nasty falls.