Technically, yes – you can lay paving stones or slabs directly onto exposed topsoil however, laying a sub-base will ensure the paving lasts longer.
However, lacking a layered base beneath outdoor paving leaves it fully exposed to the elements and ground moisture. The soil bearing the paving load inevitably heaves, shrinks, settles and shifts from rainfall, drying, frosts and other dynamics slowly distorting once-flat paving. Nearby tree roots also readily push through paving set right on soils. A layered base buffers against such inevitabilities.
Pros and Cons of Laying Paving on Mud
|Quick and easy installation
|High risk of uneven surfaces over time
|Lower initial costs
|Potential for increased maintenance and repair costs
|No need for extensive ground preparation
|Compromised durability and stability
|Suitable for temporary solutions
|Can be affected by soil movement and weather conditions
|Can be done without professional help
|May lead to drainage problems and water pooling
|Flexibility in design changes or repositioning
|Soil erosion can cause long-term landscape damage
|Easier to handle in small or difficult-to-access areas
|Risk of damage to underground utilities if not properly assessed
|Potential for natural, rustic aesthetic
|Can contribute to environmental issues like soil compaction
|Minimal environmental impact from heavy machinery
|Mud may cause paving to sink or shift unpredictably
|Opportunity for organic gardening integration
|Increased susceptibility to weed growth and pest invasion
What Makes a Proper Patio Base?
A proper patio base mirrors road design by layering aggregates and fabrics to create exceptional structural support. Quality bases include:
- Excavated & Compacted Native Subgrade
- Barrier Fabric to Inhibit Soil Migration
- 6-8” Gravel Drainage Layer
- 4-6” Dense-Graded Road Base Blend
- 1” Screeded Sharp Concrete Sand
This proven underlying technology, when built to a suitable thickness and with the right regional materials, supports immense weight without shifting or settling. It keeps paving secured neatly in alignment for decades while preventing moisture damage and weed growth that readily split and stain improperly underlaid paving.
Step-By-Step Patio & Path Installation
These brief steps explain roughly how you can lay a patio.
1. Design Layout & Calculate Needs
Craft-scaled drawings plotting permanent structures and utilities. Calculate edge restraint and drainage needs.
2. Excavate & Compact Native Soil
Dig out all vegetation until hitting solid subgrade then compact the exposed bottom before adding aggregates.
3. Install Barrier Fabric & Drainage Rock
Line the pit with non-woven geotextile, then fill with a 6-8” drainage rock layer.
4. Pour & Compact Road Base
Thoroughly compact a 4-6” dense-graded aggregate base layer. Screed the surface completely flat.
5. Set Edge Restraints
Keep the entire perimeter structurally sound long-term using concrete, plastic or steel borders.
6. Screed 1” Sharp Sand Layer
Top with 1 inch of slightly moist concrete sand, perfecting base contours.
7. Install Paving Slabs
Set paving atop the prepared base per manufacturer specifications. Let concrete sand fill joints.
Can I lay sandstone paving directly on soil?
While it is technically possible to lay sandstone pavers atop tightly compacted and graded soil, a lack of a gravel sub-base often causes extensive issues over time. Sandstone’s naturally porous composition absorbs moisture from the earth leading to subsurface freeze damage each winter when water expands in cracks. This incremental movement steadily compromises joint integrity. A 4-6 inch aggregate base buffering sandstone from subtle soil moisture and temperature changes is highly advised to prevent premature cracking or sinking.
Can porcelain paving be laid on bare soil?
Although porcelain offers added durability over natural stone, installing it directly onto exposed soil still risks potential subtle ground shifting from moisture changes slowly straining the paver structure. Freeze-thaw cycles can still exploit tiny joints or hairline manufacturing spots. A compacted base lends critical stability, though porcelain can better withstand some soil contact short-term compared to more porous options. Proper base support remains ideal for lasting quality..
Is it OK to lay a garden path directly on soil?
For informal garden paths enduring only light foot traffic, compacting soil thoroughly before installing wood chips, mulch, or gravel often proves sufficient. However, where pavers or concrete will see heavier use, a layered subsurface system matching recommended patio bases will sustain quality walking surfaces lasting decades rather than years before issues arise.
How much does a professionally installed patio cost?
Professionally installed new patios typically cost from £80-£150 per square meter inclusive of materials and labor. The exact rate depends on the size of the area, access constraints, paver type chosen, drainage provisions, geographical location, and other project specifics requiring consideration. Quality shows in long-term performance.