You will find that this will be a key skill to learn in many garden construction projects that have the aim to emulate some aspect, at least, of an English Country Garden. For example pointing garden slabs will be a relatively common occurrence.
Please note that this post on laying paving slabs will be useful for this post on garden pointing.
Sharp sand cement mix for patio garden pointing (This is also known as grouting or ‘garden’ pointing mix)
You will need to make sure that you choose a dry day and to use fine sharp sand (known by other names as rendering sand or plastering sand)…
Using a 3-to-1 fine sharp sand/cement mix ratio, mix by hand in a wheel barrow with a spade, (please make sure that you do not use soft builders sand).
Mix small, manageable amounts – on hot days a strong mix like this will go off in 20 minutes, on a cold day the same mix will be good for 3 hours. Adding frost proofer additive in really cold weather is prudent, in any event, make the mix carefully so the result is damp but not slurry-like – so it will form a clump in the fist but not so it’s squelchy and runny.
Sometimes a little p.v.a. glue added to the water mix will help the pointing mix to clump together and also help with spreading and compressing the mortar into the pointing gaps.
Pointing or grouting tips
Use a curved brick pointing trowel for a curved finish or a finger tuck trowel for a flat recessed or flush finish. A fine brush is useful also.
It is very important that the pointing mix is tooled down into the gaps and compressed down to ensure a weather-tight and durable finish – loosely filled gaps will allow the frost and rain in and eventually it will break down.
Good pointing will finish off a project very nicely. Bad and shoddy pointing work can conversely ruin an otherwise competent job – so please take care with this stage.
(c) Copyright 2013, Mark Cook, All Rights Reserved. Written For: gardenconstruction.net