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How to lay paving blocks, gravel & asphalt


An edging kerb can give an attractive, decorative finish to your path, patio or drive. It's particularly good for retaining paths of gravel or asphalt, and a must if you're laying paving blocks - as these are simply bedded into a sub-base of sand over compacted hardcore. If you don't have a securely-laid kerb edging all around your concrete footings, you'll find the unmortared blocks will soon fall away.

A loose gravel path needs a retaining edge so it doesn't spread when it's used. You'll need to set out a sub-base 100mm deep, in the same way as you would for slab paving.

Concrete int he ground

Step 1

Dig the hardcore sub-base to lay concrete footings for your kerb. The footings should be at least 75mm deep and stick out about 75mm either side of the edging kerb line.

Man laying edge of kerb

Step 2

Use a builder's line to align the edging kerb as you set it on a bed of mortar.

Using trowel to flatten concrete

Step 3

Build up the mortar against the edging kerb on both sides using a trowel. Try to keep it lower than the path and ground level so it'll be out of sight.

Raking gravel

Step 4

Make sure the hardcore sub-base is firmly compacted down. Then cover it with coarse gravel mixed with sand to a depth of 50mm, and rake it level.

Garden ground roller

Step 5

Use a garden roller to roll in the coarse gravel and sand.


Step 6

Cover the surface with fine pea gravel to a depth of 18mm to 25mm, and roll it with your garden roller.

You can use cold asphalt to repair or resurface existing asphalt, or build a new path on a hardcore sub-base. But it isn't suitable for the constructing new drives.

If you're resurfacing an old path, it's a good idea to spray it with weed killer about two weeks before putting on the new layer. If you're building a new path, prepare a sub-base as you would for a patio and lay some edging kerb. But pick a fine day to lay the asphalt, as water doesn't mix with bitumen emulsion.

Watering can

Step 1

To avoid staining your edging kerb, cover it with some hardboard or old timber (if you do get any splashes on it, you can remove them with some white spirit on a cloth). Spread a coat of bitumen emulsion on the sub-base using an old watering can without a rose. Then brush it across the surface with a stiff broom, if needed. Let the emulsion dry for about twenty minutes, during which time it'll turn from brown to black.

Racking emulsion

Step 2

Tip or shovel the asphalt on top of the emulsion, and rake it over the surface to an even thickness of about 20mm.

garden roller

Step 3

Wet the garden roller to stop the asphalt from sticking, then roll in several directions to level and compact it to a depth of about 13mm. Clean your tools with paraffin or white spirit when you've finished.