Paver options for your gardenMay 19, 2018
Landscaping used to be the most important portion of any yard project. You could spend hundreds of dollars and man hours planning your foliage and fencing, getting the flowering cycle just right and combining the greens and coloureds. These days, hardscaping plays a bigger role. The shift is more a matter of style and status than nature.
Plants, flowers, and water features are gorgeous, but they say more about your gardener than they do about you. If you have excellently maintained topiary, it just means you hired the right person for the job, and it’s just as easy for your neighbours to ambush your lawn dresser on his or her way out and mimic the effect in their own yard.
However, with hardscaping, you can really make your mark. You can select style of pavers and coping that are uniquely you and expose your distinct sense of home outdoor décor. Pavers can be firmly secured in the ground using adhesive concrete, or they can be floated on a bed of sand and gravel. The decision will depend on your overall ambience, but it might also be dictated by the type and quality of your soil. Let’s explore some paving options.
Commonly selected for its sandy beach theme, limestone pavers offer style and sophistication at a pocket-friendly price. This natural stone has a smooth, velvety texture, and has colours ranging from calm beiges to coral pinks, and can also be grey, green or blue in pale tinges. The fine finish works well with turf and poolside designs, because it has no jagged edges to scrape your feet on, remains cool underfoot even in scorching weather, and doesn’t get chilly in winter.
It needs minimal maintenance. Just hose it at high pressure, or use limestone cleaner. It rarely stains, especially with the limited outdoor exposure to acidic products, and it won’t require much scrubbing. Honed pavers work best, because a glossy, polished finish seems misplaced outdoors, and is more likely to show soil marks.
While it has its uses in general construction, concrete is the most unimaginative form of hardscaping. It’s not coloured, so it will always seem dull and grey, though you can use coloured cement to brighten it up and enhance your décor. Concrete pavers are hardy and can last for decades after you lay them, but they can be uncomfortably scorching or freezing in extreme temperatures, because concrete is an excellent conductor.
Unlike natural stone, concrete can crumble over time, so it often has to be reinforced with wire mesh or steel plates. It takes more time to install, both because of the reinforcement and because it needs to be cured between layers. Concrete has a rough, pock-marked texture, especially when the bits of stone start to fall out, so it’s rough on bare feet. However, it’s the most affordable option and the easiest to source.
Although marble is known for its beauty and decadence, it’s not a natural choice for outdoor paving. It may seem somewhat displaced in this setting, a little too opulent for a grassy yard. That said, it can work well under certain circumstances. For example, a mysterious pathway to a hidden grotto, pergola, or fountain, especially if the design of the structure has marble accents in it. That could work well.
Marble tiles can also be attractive for poolside paving. Despite their clean finish, they have low slip rating, although like other kinds of natural stone, a honed finish is better suited for external styling. Outside the house, marble is easy to maintain because you don’t have to scrub or mop it. A soft broom and a hose will do nicely.
If you’re drawn to the pale shades of limestones and the hardy texture of concrete, travertine offers a happy middle ground. It has the raw rugged appeal of concrete, thanks to its porous surface and classically aged appearance. Travertine slabs draw your mind back to ancient Greek columns, Roman colosseums, and Mayan pyramids. That’s the mood they evoke.
However, the texture of this paving is softer than concrete, and it remains pleasant beneath your feet, because the natural stone doesn’t conduct heat as intensely as man-made concrete. Travertine can be honed or tumbled, but it’s rarely polished, which is fine because polished surfaces are superfluous in al fresco settings. Plus, it lasts for decades and doesn’t crumble.