Am I crazy (haha) to think of doing crazy paving myself?

(14 Posts)
MrsWobbleTheWaitress Tue 15-Jun-10 12:00:03

We have no spare money. We want to make our front garden into a very pretty cottage garden. I'm going to grow the flowers from seed (have done this before).

We currently have a path from our driveway to our front door that is made of those horrid grey utility paving slabs. There will be lavender plants along both edges eventually, so they will soften it, and I know you won't really notice it. But I really, really have fallen in love with the idea of a crazy paving path, with thyme growing in the gaps.

My parents have loads and loads of broken gravestones we can use (don't ask!) but they're very, very heavy. The current slabs are liftable and will be very, very useful for a permanent chicken run, and to put our wheely bins on.

So, am I mad!? We can't afford to get someone to do it for us. But I know it will be a long, hard project. Anyone else done it?

AMumInScotland Tue 15-Jun-10 12:45:47

Not exactly crazy paving, but DH and I have just put in random shaped slabs of limestone to make a path then put gravel between them. It wasn't that hard, though that probably depends how big and heavy the pieces you are planning to use would be.

You would need to lift the existing slabs and see what's underneath - we took up an old patio and it was just laid on sand, so it was very easy to get it flat and level again. But if the existing ones are on concrete you may have to do more work to get it flat for the new path.

Then we used sacks of ready-mixed "dry mix" - sand and cement - you just put a layer of it on the ground, then put your slab on top, and check it is level. Sometimes you have to take it back up and shove a bit more under one side to get it level. Once it's all done (or as much as you can face in a session!) you give it all a gentle spray from a hose or watering can and it starts to set. We gave ours a couple of days for the dampness to seep in and set the concrete before trying to walk on it. Then I guess you'd put earth or compost between them and grow your thyme into it.

ampere Tue 15-Jun-10 12:52:29

I think you could do it yourself!

My advice would be:

Good ground preparation to the extent you may even need to hire a compactor for half a day, or I guess a garden roller might do it! It does depend what your existing pavers are set on. They may already have a good base on which to build.

You probably will need to cement your individual pieces into place if you aren't concreting them but having thyme growing between them. Don't under-estimate the amount of cement you'll need! Get a mixer in if it's a lot as mixing cement can be back breaking work. Get the proportions of cement and sand right in your mix as you don't want the wrong mix that will deteriorate in time.

Make sure the each piece is set level, both for H&S purposes and appearance.

It will be hardish work but in my opinion, if you've assembled all the stuff you need and picked your weekend weatherwise, it's well- doable.

Good luck, and I bet the end result will look fab!

ampere Tue 15-Jun-10 12:55:15

Good advice re ready made 'dry mix' from AMumInScotland- bit more pricey but could save a lot of mixing!

2old4thislark Tue 15-Jun-10 13:04:32

Could you stretch to a gravel path? Just use bits of paving for the edges? Wickes do some very cheap small grey gravel stones which we used last year.

Tortington Tue 15-Jun-10 13:06:03

oooh gravestones - talking piece. i would just use them whole - especially if they are engraved how fab would that be walking up to your front door!

Tortington Tue 15-Jun-10 13:06:38

crazy paving is shit btw.

ampere Tue 15-Jun-10 13:16:53

But the stones are already broken, custardo!

I agree crazy paving in the traditional 1970's sense of the term isn't particularly visually attractive, those yellow, red and brown bit of paving slab broken up, but MrsWobble has some much better kit to work with!

MrsWobbleTheWaitress Tue 15-Jun-10 15:33:03

custardo - already broken up! But will put them engraving side up...will be fun for rubbings too!

2old - gravel...we did consider it, but then were offered the grave stones for free and the image of lovely thyme growing up between them really appealed to me smile

Thanks for the tip re. dry mix AMIS. I'm going to send DH out go look what's underneath now. I have been looking in books etc. and it all seems to say that getting it level is the hardest bit. And the stones are very, very heavy - will take me a few weeks of trips to get them all over here so they don't break our car!

It certainly won't be crazy paving 70s style, but cottagey crazy paving, with lavender hanging over the edges. The stones are dark grey, and worn, so will look way nicer than smashed up bits of utility paving slab!

ib Tue 15-Jun-10 15:42:03

You can definitely do it, but a word of warning about the whole 'growing thyme in between':

- a path to your front door may be too high traffic for thyme, you could struggle to get it established
- make sure you use weed-free soil (realistically you will have to buy it) and stay really on top of the weeding. If weeds get their roots under the slabs they will be next to impossible to weed out

MrsWobbleTheWaitress Tue 15-Jun-10 16:14:36

Ok, great, thank you smile

Will it manage if I train our most frequent users (ie. me and DH and the kids) to step only on the paving?

We're having our 'pretty' garden out the front because we live in a cul-de-sac and the children play out a lot - I thought I'd be able to do lots of weeding etc. while they're playing, rather than look folornly at the crappy mess of gravel and weeds that is currently there!

ib Tue 15-Jun-10 19:35:10

I would have the thyme growing on the path but towards the edges rather than the middle iyswim? That way, hough it's growing in the cracks, there is still a narrow trail that gets trampled on the most that doesn't have anything growing on it.

It sounds absolutely lovely btw. You may have to do a fair bit of digging to have enough room to fit the gravestones (I'm guessing they are much thicker than the existing paving slabs). Do check that you are able to do this before removing all the paving.

MrsWobbleTheWaitress Tue 15-Jun-10 19:48:49

oh yes - thank you for thinking of that! I expect they will be thicker. I will definitely have to dig - I don't want to spoil the look with one of those yellow and black striped tapes where it starts grin

MrsHno4 Mon 06-Jul-15 14:06:33

I can see this is an old thread, but I'm really curious to ask what you ended up doing. We are taking up heavy paving slabs that are set a little too far apart and replacing them. Not sure what with yet, but we would like to do something that's a bit softer and more fun than a straight boring slabbed path.....

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