Slabs, stones and wood look stylish whatever the weather One of the most obvious ways to catapult your garden into the 21st century is to update the paving. It adds structure and requires minimum maintenance and looks fantastic whatever the weather or season. Psychologically, just as a large entrance hall leads you to believe the house inside is big, a large paving area makes me feel the garden is generously sized rather than pokey and cramped. The dominant trend in show gardens is for one type of precision-cut slab to blanket a huge space. Admittedly, these spaces photograph well, but it is worth having smaller, unusual paving units to add individuality, texture and interest. There are good reasons for introducing small areas of another material, too. If you are upgrading and extending an area, it is often impossible to match it exactly to your original design. By removing and replacing parts of it with an infill material, you can reuse your perfectly matching slabs to extend the area. Do this by removing some in a pattern formation, replacing the perimeter slabs or replacing a new central area with the infill paving. In my own garden I am making new paths between my extended vegetable beds and laying paving under a new seat. I have a few slabs already, but not enough to fill the space, so I have 'stretched them with some infills. These included offcuts of old oak beams and mini Indian stone setts, just 50 x 50 x 50mm. The amount of paving available is mind boggling. You have to consider slipperiness, how they will look in a few years, how they look wet, frost resistance (last winter several expensive types of stone slabs crumbled from frost) and durability. One of the most popular infills I use are ammonites. Not the real McCoy, but they fool most. They are cast concrete, but are hand-finished and measure from 3cm-28cm. I find them easy to lay, often just filling the tiny gaps between them with a fine gravel. I also use them in infrequent narrow bands between multiple courses of clean-looking paving to define a shape or pattern. I carry them over into the base of shallow rills and pools, too, where they look mouth-watering. Stonemarket Paving sells a less expensive, but less versatile, version, too. They come in ready-formed slabs in two colours, in 600 x 600mm or 300 x 300mm. Stonemarket also sells innovative paving made up of slabs of pebble, and a slab that appears to be made of paving laid on edge, although some skill is needed to lay them so the joints cannot be detected. Their concrete sleepers, Timberstone, will fool anyone. Telegraph Salvaging odds and ends to use as paving is satisfying. In one garden we made a terraced chequerboard from slabs interspersed with squares of different odds and ends. Try clay roof tiles laid so that just the thin end shows, in blocks, stripes or patterns, or play around with thin pebbles laid with the deep side bedded in mortar; these can be straight or in scrolls and bound gravel can fill the space. Smashed terracotta pots, plates and coloured bottles can also be designed into simple mosaics. These are best flung in the concrete mixer for a couple of hours with sand. They emerge as though they have been on the sea bed for 100 years, worn beautifully smooth. If these sound too fiddly, coloured gravels, grass or uniform mats of creeping plants make for far simpler construction. A few patches of bright colour instantly adds zing. UV-resistant colours from Sand Factory - such as lime green, pink, orange or purple with matching pebbles - retain their intensity for years. A few discreet squares of snazzy gravel, some matching wide coloured gravel joints or coloured mulches on pots or beds would lift any garden. Pull the scheme inside too, by mulching indoor pots in matching colours. Squares, stripes or wide joints of turf make great patterns within paving slabs. They can either be real turf laid 5mm proud of the slabs, or try a high-grade artificial turf such as Lazylawn (01572 768208; This is soothing for bare feet, surprisingly convincing and takes no mowing, although you might need to vacuum it occasionally -Telegraph