Monty Don: Gardening expert explains ‘simple’ way to lay paving slabs in the garden

Monty Don reveals how to lay garden paving

Gardening expert Monty Don has revealed his top tips for laying paving slabs in the garden. With more Britons spending time at home during lockdown, gardening enthusiasts are looking for more ways to transform their outdoor space. Monty claimed in a video for BBC Gardeners’ World.com that laying the paving slabs is “very simple.”

He said: “First thing to do is to lay string on where I want them to go.

“The string is showing me the edge of the path and also the height of the finished surface.

“When I’ve got that in position, the work can begin.”

Monty then set work on digging a trench for the slabs.

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“It really is very simple. I dig to a depth of 18 inches between the strings,” he said.

“Then I drive in a grid of pegs so that the tops are level and there’s enough room above them to put a generous layer of sand or cement and also the thickness of my slabs.

“Next, I fill the trench with rubble or hard core to three inches below the top of the pegs.

“Then I need scalpings. You can get these from a builder’s merchant.”

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Monty used the scalpings to fill the trench to the top of the pegs.

He then tamped the scalpings down firmly using an earth rammer.

Monty continued: “The next stage is to mix up some cement.

“I’ve got four parts sand and one part cement in here.

“It’s very easy to do in a wheel barrow and mix it up really thoroughly while it’s dry before you add in some water.

“The great thing about adding water is, you can always add a bit more but you can’t take any out.”

If you’re not sure where to begin with your paving slabs, Monty recommended “working backwards” from an existing straight edge.

He said this could be the back of a house or an existing path.

You can then make sure the first slab levelled off that straight edge.

He said: “I’m putting down five dots of cement for each slab. One in each corner and one in the middle.

“Then I gently place down the slab on top. Using a spirit level from the very beginning, I make sure that each slab is dead level before moving onto the next.

Monty said it’s important when you’re laying slabs on sand and cement not to tread on them for 24 hours.

Monty Don’s American Gardens is available to stream BBC iPlayer and will air tonight at 8pm on BBC Two.

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