There are a number of instances in which you may wish to use sand -- as opposed to a sand and cement mix -- as a bedding material for paving slabs. For example, sand is a suitable foundation if you are laying a number of different size slabs that might require rearrangement.
Using spray paint, or a line stretched between pegs, mark the border of the area to be slabbed.
Remove topsoil from the area to be paved to a depth of around 7.5 cm (3 inches). This allows space for the sand bed and the paving slabs. Use a spirit level at various places at the bottom of the excavation to ensure that it is level. You may wish to allow the ground to slope slightly to allow rainwater to drain.
Spread a layer of coarse sand in the excavated area and use a rake to level it. This layer must be around 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep.
Arrange the slabs, beginning in one corner and working outwards. If you are arranging a pattern, keep larger slabs on the perimeter of the area to be slabbed and smaller ones nearer the centre. Small slabs at the edge of a paved area are prone to being knocked out of position.
Using a wooden block and a hammer, knock the slabs gently into place, bedding them into the sand. This will prevent them from moving when stepped on. Do not strike the slabs directly, as this can cause damage.
Make sure the paved area is level using a spirit level. If it is uneven, either add or remove sand to raise or lower the slab to the correct height.
Heap small piles of coarse sand onto the paved area and sweep into the cracks in between the slabs using a broom.
Water the area to compact the sand and allow it to dry for a day or two. Fill in any gaps with more sand to meet the required level. Your paved area is now complete.
You can use excavated topsoil on your flowerbeds. Allow a working perimeter around your paved area of around 30 cm (12 inches).
Beware of injury when lifting slabs or digging. Wear suitable protective clothing to avoid injury.