It’s probably safe to say that every homeowner with some kind of outdoor space wants to have beautiful and attractive landscaping.

And, it’s also safe to say that every good landscaping design incorporates a thoughtful element of hardscaping. 

But what is that exactly?

Hardscapes and Pavers

For a somewhat clinical description, we can turn to Wikipedia,

“Hardscape refers to hard landscape materials in the built environment structures that are incorporated into a landscape. This can include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, sleeper walls, stairs, walkways, and any other landscaping made up of hard-wearing materials such as wood, stone, and concrete, as opposed to softscape, the horticultural elements of a landscape.

The truth is, most homeowners would ever use the terms “hardscape” and “softscape”, but it helps to illustrate the distinction between what you plant and what you build.

So, what about pavers?

Probably after concrete pavement (think sidewalks and patios) the most common hardscape element in most designs is the humble paver. 

Pavers are simply hard blocks that are used to create relatively smooth, hard surfaces in an outdoor area such as a yard or garden. The structures that can be made of pavers include pathways, steps, patios, and even driveways. In addition, pavers can be used to construct retaining walls and other landscaping features.

Pavers are slabs or blocks that are made from a wide variety of materials. Although many common pavers are made from concrete themselves, pavers represent a great alternative to pouring concrete for many hardscaping projects.

In addition to the structures we mentioned, pavers are also used to build pool decks, fire pits, planters, and base supports for mailboxes or water features.

Types of Pavers

When choosing a paver material, a landscape designer must consider the overall look and feel of the design and the specific purpose for the paver. Some materials lend themselves well to more modernistic and minimalist landscape designs.

On the other hand, a rustic or even English garden look would favor something rougher and more primitive in texture and appearance.

And, of course, hardness, color, available shapes, and utility are all factors. Materials that are slippery when wet, for example, should be avoided for use on paths, steps, and patios. And clay or cement blocks and bricks are preferable for close-fitting applications such as patios and some walkways.

So, what are the available materials that pavers are made of? Here’s a list of the most common:

1. Concrete

Concrete pavers come in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, textures and thickness. One of the most popular paving options for driveways and pathways is to use concrete pavers. One of the disadvantages of concrete is that they can sometimes crack or break fairly easily. However, the relatively lower cost and wide availability mean that replacements are easy to come by. 

2. Clay Brick 

The veritable clay brick brings both simple utility and a subtle charm to a hardscape design. Clay bricks have been used as pavers and surfacing material for hundreds of years. Brick pavers are made from formed clay that is baked in a kiln and is set in place with mortar or on a sand base. They come in different sizes and a variety of colors and textures.

3. Bluestone 

Bluestone is a popular building stone that is found in two forms: a sandstone variety called Pennsylvania Bluestone, and a limestone version from Virginia known as Shenandoah Bluestone. Bluestone is durable, attractive, and ideal for all kinds of uses including patios, pool decks, stone steps, or entryways.

4. Slate

Exterior slate pavers are great for several different hardscape uses. Because they’re naturally resistant to slipping, slate stone patio pavers are often used around swimming pools. Slate patio pavers are typically sold as 12×12 inch squares slabs and offer a sophisticated, but welcoming look and feel for a backyard or other outdoor space.

5. Cobblestone

For many, the mention of cobblestone brings images of old streets in Europe or New England. It is true that these pavers have been used for hundreds of years, testimony to the durability of cobblestone. Today, cobblestone pavers are typically rough-surfaced granite bricks about 4x4x8 inches in size. Although commonly made of granite, sometimes they are cut from basalt, limestone or sandstone. 

6. Marble

Natural marble pavers can be used for a variety of outdoor areas including outdoor kitchens, patios, pool areas, and other features. Marble is one of the sturdier stones among all the natural stones and another aspect that makes it appealing is the wide range of coloring and variation in this natural stone. Marble pavers can be an elegant touch that adds significant value to your home.

Pavers Can Add an Elegant and Unique Element

In addition to the almost endless ways you can incorporate pavers into your overall landscape, they have the advantage of being extremely durable for permanent or semi-permanent fixtures. This also makes them preferable to materials such as crushed gravel, pea gravel, wood chips, or compacted earth.

As long as the paver slabs or blocks are laid properly, they typically can last for years without any real upkeep or maintenance. Another advantage is that, for the DIY homeowner, pavers are usually easy to install providing you avoid the larger patio blocks that are available. 

Because there are no “rules” for what your hardscape elements must look like, pavers lend themselves to creative and unique designs and hardscape structures. Regardless of whether you install them yourself, or bring on a professional like Northview Landscaping, choosing the right paver for your hardscape elements can be a fun and gratifying way of capping off your landscape creation.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for your hardscape and softscape needs. We know that creating the best look for your outdoor space is important to you and we’re here to answer any questions you might have about getting started on your landscape design.

Get ready to spend more time enjoying your outdoor space with family and friends!

If you have questions, or you’d like to schedule a consultation about your garden or landscaping project, contact the professional landscape designers and plant installers at Northview Landscaping today.