Natural Stone, Brick and Concrete Paver Applications
It takes more than plants to create a wonderful landscape. Hardscaping can give a landscape its form, structure, and flow. Here’s an overview of the elements that make hardscaping an art and a science.
Concrete. “If you are laying concrete where people will see it, such as a backyard patio or your front entry walkway, consider stamped and colored concrete,” says Jack Dorcey, Landscape Designer for Bever Landscaping in Forest Lake. The front walkway pictured here shows how concrete can be poured into a shape that enhances the house’s architecture. Note how the color coordinates perfectly with the home’s stonework and stucco texture.
Concrete is generally one of the more affordable options for a paved surface. “But concrete has its downfalls,” says Dorcey. “No matter how many precautions are taken, there is a potential for cracking and heaving in colder climates. Once there is a crack in concrete, repair can be difficult.”
Natural Stone Pavers
Stone. “Nothing compares with natural stone for a paving material,” says Jill Townley, a designer for Bever Landscaping in Forest Lake. “There is just something about the material that makes a true connection between a space and the natural environment.”
Although stone is seldom strong enough for a driveway application, it is the perfect choice for walkways and patios. Natural stone is often the most expensive paving material. But it can be a great choice to dress up a space and make your guests say, “Wow!”
Pavers. In modern-day Italy, you can still see the large, flat stones the Romans laid centuries ago to create their streets and courtyards. It’s an impressive testament to the longevity of pavers. New technologies have made these surfaces even more affordable and practical for patios, walkways, and driveways.
Pavers are slightly more expensive than concrete. Pavers hold up well in tough climates, unlike concrete, which can heave and crack. Because a paver surface is composed of many small surfaces on a flexible aggregate base, replacements and adjustments are very simple. Textures, colors, and patterns vary by manufacturer.
Decking. A deck is the ideal solution if there is a sizeable grade difference between the bottom of your patio door and the ground. The two most common decking materials in the Midwest are cedar or maintenance-free composite. Cedar is a very weather-resistant wood but it requires maintenance, such as sanding and staining, to keep it looking its best. Low-maintenance composite decking can be double the price of cedar. “I always recommend a composite deck for customers who can afford it,” says Townley. “You’ll save on maintenance time and see more resale value.”
“Avoid green-treated or pressure treated woods,” Townley warns. “Over time, they tend to twist, shrink and crack. Anyone recommending a green-treated deck is looking to make a quick sale, and will probably not be in business the next year when you call for a repair.”
What if you can’t decide—or maybe you want to combine materials? A professional Landscape Designer can help you determine which materials will best suit your needs. A designer will consider many factors, such as your home’s architecture, your lifestyle, the intended use for the space, and your budget. The projects pictured here illustrate how designers can mix materials to create the perfect look for the right price.