TOP LAYOUT TIPS
Firstly, it is strongly recommended that you stagger the slabs like bricks, this makes the whole area stronger and more stable (because you don’t have 4 corners meeting at 1 point.)
If you are ever intending to add more slabs to the area, then it’s really important to lay the first area so that in future you will be adding on to the straight edge A and not the staggered edge B.
This is because connecting new slabs into more than one side of bedded-in slabs is absolutely impossible, you would need to lift the whole area and start again (because you need to move one of the existing slabs slightly to let the new one into the corner, and that’s not possible when they’re bedded in.)
For pathways wider than 1 slab, it’s important to stagger the slabs against the direction of travel, as below:
Or, if you don’t mind cutting slabs (with a hand saw or a bench or skill saw) then this is ideal:
If you lay two parallel rows of slabs, then in certain circumstances (such as on bottomless clay soil) the horses continually walking down the middle line can cause it to gradually sink a bit and the slabs to tilt and ‘unzip’ along the straight middle joint.
Staggering the slabs helps to prevent this movement.
The slabs all interlink and help to stabilise each other, so square or rectangular areas will be more stable than oddly shaped areas with outlying slabs only joined on one or two sides to the rest (those will be more likely to move under a very heavy load if the ground underneath is saturated, for example.)
If you don’t want to use sand around hay feeders, then holey rubber grass mats work very well. We’ve been trialling these for about 9 months with success (with 3 big mares on them 24/7).
The sand topping is really important and makes a big difference. It solidifies the area, filling in any voids under the slabs, and helps the drainage, and gives extra gritty grip when the animals are getting used to the new surface.
We recommend adding AT LEAST 1 bulk bag of sand (quarried sharp sand is our preference) per pallet of slabs, more if you want it to be deep enough for rolling, lying down, and playing on. It’s money well spent. Sharp sand won’t wash away as quickly as fine/soft sand, as the particles are rougher and bigger/heavier.