Block paving is an excellent way to enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your driveway, patio, or garden paths. However, the success of your block paving project largely hinges on how well you prepare the ground before laying the blocks. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps for preparing your ground for block paving, ensuring a long-lasting and visually pleasing result.

Why Ground Preparation Matters

Before diving into the how-to's, it's crucial to understand why ground preparation is so important. Proper ground preparation:

  • Ensures Stability: A well-prepared ground provides a stable base for the paving blocks, preventing shifting and sinking over time.
  • Enhances Durability: Proper preparation helps in creating a durable surface that can withstand various weather conditions and heavy loads.
  • Prevents Weed Growth: By preparing the ground meticulously, you minimise the chances of weeds growing between the blocks.
  • Facilitates Drainage: Properly graded and prepared ground ensures effective drainage, reducing the risk of water pooling and erosion.

Step-by-Step Guide to Ground Preparation

1. Planning and Design

Before you start digging, planning is essential. Consider the following:

  • Measurements: Measure the area accurately to determine how many blocks you'll need.
  • Design: Decide on the pattern and design of your block paving. Sketch it out to visualise the end result.
  • Materials: Ensure you have all necessary materials, including blocks, sand, gravel, and edging.

2. Marking Out the Area

Use string lines and wooden stakes to mark out the exact area you’ll be paving. This will help you stay within the planned dimensions and maintain straight lines.

3. Excavation

Excavate the area to a depth of about 200-250mm (8-10 inches), depending on the type of traffic the area will endure. For driveways that will support vehicles, deeper excavation is recommended.

  • Remove Topsoil: Clear away any grass, roots, and topsoil.
  • Check Levels: Use a spirit level to ensure the ground is even. Slight gradients should be maintained for drainage.

4. Sub-Base Installation

The sub-base layer is critical for providing stability and support.

  • Apply a Weed Membrane: Lay a weed membrane to prevent weed growth.
  • Add Sub-Base Material: Use MOT Type 1 (crushed stone) and spread it evenly across the excavated area.
  • Compact the Sub-Base: Use a plate compactor to compact the sub-base material, ensuring it’s firm and level.

5. Sand Layer

A layer of sharp sand will create a bed for the blocks and help with levelling.

  • Spread the Sand: Spread a 50-60mm (2-2.5 inches) layer of sharp sand over the compacted sub-base.
  • Level the Sand: Use a screeding board to level the sand, ensuring it’s smooth and even.

6. Edging

Edging is essential for keeping the blocks in place and providing a clean boundary.

  • Install Edge Restraints: Lay edge restraints (kerbs or edgings) along the perimeter of your paving area.
  • Secure the Edging: Use concrete haunching to secure the edges in place.

7. Laying the Blocks

Now comes the exciting part—laying the blocks.

  • Start at a Corner: Begin laying blocks from a corner or a straight edge, following your design pattern.
  • Maintain Gaps: Leave a consistent gap (usually 2-5mm) between the blocks for jointing sand.
  • Check Levels Regularly: Use a spirit level to check that the blocks are level as you lay them.

8. Jointing and Compacting

Once all the blocks are in place, it’s time to fill the gaps and secure the surface.

  • Add Jointing Sand: Spread kiln-dried sand over the surface and use a broom to sweep it into the joints between the blocks.
  • Compact the Surface: Use a plate compactor to compact the blocks and sand. This will settle the blocks into the sand bed and lock them in place.
  • Re-Sand if Necessary: After compacting, add more jointing sand if needed and sweep it in.

9. Final Checks

Perform a few final checks to ensure everything is perfect.

  • Clean the Surface: Remove any excess sand and debris from the surface.
  • Inspect the Area: Check for any uneven blocks or gaps that need more sand.

Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your block paving will prolong its lifespan and keep it looking great.

  • Regular Cleaning: Sweep the surface regularly to remove debris and leaves.
  • Replenish Jointing Sand: Over time, jointing sand may wash away. Replenish it as needed.
  • Seal the Surface: Consider sealing the blocks to protect against stains and enhance durability.
  • Weed Control: Keep an eye out for weeds and remove them promptly to prevent spreading.


Preparing your ground for block paving is a crucial step that determines the longevity and appearance of your paved area. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stunning and durable block-paved surface that enhances the beauty and functionality of your space.

Ready to transform your driveway, patio, or garden path? Get started today with these essential ground preparation steps and enjoy a beautiful, long-lasting block paving installation!