A Garden Fencing Guide: What You Need to Know

If you put in the time and effort to grow and maintain your garden, you will obviously want to protect it from outside enemies such as animals. This is the main reason, though not the only one as we’ll see, to put up a vegetable garden fence. This article will give you a basic guide to the kinds of fences to use, how to install them, and the benefits and drawbacks to using particular kinds of fences to protect your vegetable garden.

The Reasons to Use Garden Fencing

The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of fence you need, and to do this you need to know why you need the fence.

The first major reason people use garden fencing is to protect their garden from animals and other pests. Rabbits, groundhogs, deer, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and other animals can all get into your garden and absolutely wreak havoc on your creation, destroying your hard work. Thus, you’ll need a physical barrier to keep them out. Protection is probably the main reason that people use a garden fence system. Note that you want to protect the animals from the garden as much as you want to protect the garden from the animals! Using this physical barrier is thus the most humane solution here, lest you resort to using pesticide or farm dogs and cats to protect the area and potentially harm the critters!

The second major reason people use a garden fence is for safety and utility. They can use it to make sure they keep the garden separate from other parts of the yard, preventing small children or pets from wandering into the garden where they don’t belong and could get injured. In addition, you prevent other people from snooping around in your garden. (You may want to couple this with garden lights to really make sure your installation is safe). Another reason to use this fencing is to ‘mark off’ particular areas of your property, or as a way to separate different sections of the garden as an organizational aid. You may also have reason to keep particular plant life separate, giving you another reason to use garden edging fence.

There is a third reason to install garden fencing, and it’s one that many people don’t think about – beauty and aesthetics. The right decorative garden fencing can add a lot to your hardscape and landscape. The wrong garden fence can be an eyesore on your property, one that you hate looking at. Thus, don’t forget that the fence is something you’ll have to live with for a long time, so it should be something that you at least don’t mind seeing. It is possible, with enough planning, to get fence customized for the look and feel of your yard if aesthetics really matter for you.

How to Pick the Right Garden Fence for You

If you are creating a fence to protect your garden from animals, you’ll have to first determine what kinds of animals are damaging your crops. This can be done by examining the evidence and tell-tale signs that they leave behind; there are plenty of guides out there on the Internet that can help you do this. For instance, the way they dig, tooth marks, and scat can all be helpful; pest or animal control can also help you in extreme cases. You might also put up some wireless cameras or lights in order to see the creatures, especially at night.

The kind of barrier you use will depend on your enemy. For instance, if you are just dealing with some birds and squirrels, you might able to put up a mesh or wire cover for that particular area of the garden. Thus, you will be able to avoid the expense of putting up even the most basic garden fence, saving you a lot of time and trouble and making the barrier a bit more ‘mobile.’ Otherwise, you will probably have to put up a more permanent structure.

For more serious creatures like deer, rabbits, and the like will have their own solutions:

Deer – you can put up plastic mesh fencing to deter these animals. Realize, though, that other animals like rabbits can quickly chew through this plastic garden fencing and render the barrier useless. These guys are a pain in the neck when it comes to regular fences, though, because they can easily jump even a relatively high fence. Thus, if you are really having a severe deer problem throughout your entire garden, you might want to ‘double up’ and use two consecutive fences to really keep them out. The nuclear option here is electric fencing, but the safety issues and maintenance inherent in them make it a last resort for many garden owners. There are also some other methods you could use to scare away or deter the deer, but for this article we’re just focusing on fencing.

Raccoons – these animals are best deterred with an electric fence.

Rabbits, gophers, skunks these animals (along with any animals with sharp teeth) can present a special problem because they are able to chew through weak defenses. In addition, they can burrow through the ground if necessary to try to get under the fence. For these burrowing animals, materials such as poultry netting or hardware cloth will have to be buried underneath the fence to prevent this from happening.

Dogs, goats, pigs, chickens – these and other domestic animals can be kept out with any kind of large fence that is able to deter these sized critters.

Types of Vegetable Garden Fence

Now that you know what kinds of animals you’re dealing with, and the kinds of fence you will need to use, let’s talk about the different kind of fence materials that you can use to create your installation.

Wire Garden Fencing – One kind of this wire is stretched between very sturdy posts, made from wood or metal and buried into the ground, and is used to cover the perimeter of the garden in question. Though this can be harder to install than other kinds of wire fencing, you’ll find that it works better on uneven terrain due to its ‘adaptability’ and flexibility. Another kind of wire fencing is more sturdy, so it’s easier to install as it just needs to be strung around the perimeter posts. However, it should be used primarily on even ground.

Garden Fencing Panels – These stock panels are great to use, either made from metal or wood, as they can be easily attached to the metal or wood posts around the perimeter. In addition, they can be easily removed when necessary, allowing them to be mobile and flexible. In general, metal garden fencing is the best you can use because it cannot be gnawed by animals and it can withstand the rain and elements that may otherwise rot or damage wooden fence.

Wrought Iron Fences – These can come in many different styles and patterns. The main advantage with these is strength and durability. They also allow the plants to growth through the fence, or at least if they need room to breathe – especially if they are trellis fencing.

Electric Fences – These are necessary to keep out certain kinds of critters, such as raccoons, but they come with their own annoyances. First, of course, they need to be connected to a power source. Second, they can be a safety hazard to innocent animals and humans alike. Third, many people have an ethical problem with hurting animals with an electric shock. However, sometimes it’s a necessary evil if the infestation is serious enough.

Wood or Picket Fences – Many people enjoy this material for garden fencing simply because it gives your yard a natural and quaint look. Wooden garden fences are generally composed of fence panels, fence posts, and garden gates. The different kinds of paneling available, such as timber, chestnut, closeboard, and more, all depend on your needs for the fence. These fences can also be supplemented with other kinds of fencing, such as netting, to add strength and function to your fence.

Bamboo Garden Fences – Many people are leaning towards bamboo fences due to their ‘natural’ character and if they want a cheap garden fence. They look great and come in a variety of styles and designs, allowing you to do something a bit different than the typical wood or metal fence.

Vinyl or Plastic Fences – These materials are more ‘artificial’ than wood or metal, but some people like their look and durability. They are usually easy to install and easy to maintain.

Stone Fences These are more walls than fences, but they may be an interesting choice if you’re looking for something more permanent and a bit more fashionable and attractive.

Shurbs or trees – You could even use natural hedges to protect the side of your garden, though of course this is only good for larger animals, as smaller ones could easily crawl underneath or through these plants.

Other – I’m sure there’s other kinds of fencing (like trellis fences) that I didn’t cover (yet), so obviously make sure you do your research if you’re looking for something really specific and unique. It probably exists!

Garden Fence Designs – Beauty Matters Too!

Another note – don’t forget aesthetics! We mentioned this as one of the important points above. You want to have a fence that you can stand looking at and, in a perfect world, a fence that complements the other aspects of your home and landscape. A nice fence can actually add some character to your yard, so it might pay to think beyond utility and function when it comes time to select your structure.

The first principle is simple: try to minimize the use of the fence as much as possible. If you can use other parts of your property – such as a side of the house or shed – to protect your garden, this is obviously better than having to surround it with a ton of fence.

The second thing to do is sketch out the design for your fence – what are its dimensions? What is its depth? Are there any accessories? Where will you enter and exit? What kinds of materials will you use for your fencing?

In addition, you need to know what animals you are protecting your garden against to generate these garden fence ideas. If aesthetics matter to you, you’ll obviously have to visualize how the fence will look to see if it meshes with the other parts of your property.

What accessories do you want to add? For instance, some homeowners like to cover their fencing with vines or other plant life to make it ‘blend in.’ Let your creativity shine. Some mix in plant life, stones, and man-made hardscape structures to really add some pizzazz to their project. However, sometimes just a simple wire fence is all you need and, probably, all you really want anyway. The fence should do what YOU want it to do, nothing more, nothing less.

Installing Your Garden Fencing

Most homeowners can install garden fences by themselves, though the option to hire a contractor or landscaper is always on the table. The specifics obviously depend on the kind of fence you are using, but the basics are generally the same: you’ll have to dig some holes to put the fence posts in securely, and then you’ll have to attach the planks or wires to the posts to create the secure fence.

You want to dig your posts deep enough so that they will be stable and withstand pressure from people, animals, and weather & wind. Note as well that you might have to do some digging along the fence itself if you have to install mesh or to bury the fence a bit to prevent burrowing animals from getting through.

Depth is not the whole story, either. You want to make your fence high enough to protect the garden, but not too high so as to waste your money or materials. You can combine a fence with barbed wire, for instance, to get the height without dealing with the increased prices of using more material.

Other Garden Fencing Ideas and Final Thoughts

  • Again, as mentioned above, you may need to use chicken wire or hardware cloth to put underneath the fence (in the ground) to prevent burrowing animals from circumventing your main fence. The depth of the barrier will depend on exactly what kinds of burrowers you’re dealing with.
  • Garden lighting may be useful to scare away critters at night, especially if it’s set to a motion sensor.
  • Don’t forget to add garden fence gates for your conveninence. You want to make sure that you can enter your garden at will without having to climb over a fence of course!
  • Note that some kinds of fences may come with maintenance costs. Wood fences, for example, may have to be replaced or repaired relatively often, while metal fences should hold up well over time.

21 Awesome Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

This article will discuss some of the best landscaping ideas for front yards that you can implement. Of course, you don’t have to do them all, or any of them for that matter. They’re here to get your mind moving, to give you an idea of the scope of possibility and to serve as a catalyst to your own creativity. Even if you are getting someone to design your landscape for you, you will want to have ideas of your own, just so at the very least you will know what you like.

Front Yard Landscape Design Ideas and Generation

  1. One of the best things you can do to get your creativity flowing is to see what others have done with their front yards. A quick drive around your neighborhood or other parts of your town can accomplish this; you can even snap some photos to bring home (as long as you aren’t obnoxious about it). The benefit here is that you can see what people with similar home designs and property sizes have done with their yards; plus, if you really like how someone did something, you can ask them for advice or for the number of their landscaper. You can also see what supplies may be readily available in your area. However, don’t get ‘stuck’ into what your neighbors and fellows townspeople have done – you may want to try something totally unique, and fitting in with what everyone else has done and limiting yourself to that worldview won’t help you.
  2. Thus, a great way to get past this is to find some front yard landscape photos or pictures in magazines, books, on TV shows, and on the Internet. Having this supply of ‘foreign’ ideas can really help stimulate your noggin; the only drawback here is that the homes you’ll be seeing in the images will have a totally different design and specifications than your home. (You can also use this technique to get backyard landscaping ideas, though that is a different topic altogether!)
  3. The main objectives with front yard design flow around a few things: curb appeal, creating an inviting nature, and allowing for people to come and go as necessary. For instance, you’ll want to have the general ‘skeleton’ of the yard, in the form of your driveway, walkway, stoop, etc., formed or at least planned before you can figure out your landscape design. (More on the hardscape in a bit.)
  4. Note that if you have a limited budget, you can do a cheap front yard landscape design without sacrificing the beauty or uniqueness of your project. This is because you really won’t be spending much time in the front yard, and most people who will be looking at the front yard will not be spending time gawking at it. Thus, you want something that’s simple, effective, easy to put together and maintain, and easy to navigate. Beauty and value are of course important, but as long as you have the first members of this list, you’ll be satisfied with your project. The topic of front yards is relatively easy, then, when compared to backyards – since we spend a bunch of time there, such as in and around a pool, we’ll want to make sure that we’ve created something truly beautiful and functional. However, that investment of time and energy and money can wait until another day and another article.
  5. As part of your design, you may want to come up with some kind of “theme” as a general guiding system to help you design your project. Your design and theme will depend largely on the climate and general appearance of your space, but you’ll still have some freedom to explore different ideas if that’s your game. For instance, tropical themes may work well in lush environments, while desert themes may work better in drier and more arid locales.
  6. Don’t be afraid that you’ll have limited freedom if you have a small front yard. In fact, you may have more freedom, because you won’t have to maintain a huge amount of green life and can focus on really getting the major details right instead of worrying if all the major components are in place.
  7. Work with what you’ve got. If you have an interesting or unique feature of the surrounding terrain, or even a body of water to play with, you can either a) downplay and try to hide the feature or b) bring it out and make it a focal point.
  8. A good general point: make sure your yard and garden has some kind of focal point. This is perhaps the most important front yard landscape idea – you want to draw your eye somewhere, and you wan tot draw it to where you want it to go. The alternatives – the eye finds nothing to look at, or it focuses on something ugly – are to be avoided at all costs!

Creating Your Green Space

  1. The first major decision you’ll have to make is how much ‘green space,’ or lawn, you’ll want to keep and maintain. Note that the more you have of the lawn, the more you’ll have to maintain. You may also consider working in designs for automatic irrigation systems or sprinklers so that you can at least keep that part of the maintenance pretty easy for you. If you need new grass, you can either use grass seed or lay down sod. The type of grass is up to you as well, though you may be limited in your choices due to local ordinances and the like.
  2. Next, sketch out the areas where you’d like to add some special landscaping touches – your flowerbeds, planters with beautiful flowers, areas for new shrubs and trees, and places to put other interesting objects (such as bird baths, water fountains, statues, and more). Don’t forget to add curves wherever possible, especially if your walkways allow you to do this. Curves are generally pleasing to the eye and a bit more ‘artistic’ than ordered straight lines. I don’t want to denigrate the straight line though, as it has a certain beauty to it all its own.
  3. Note that picking certain kinds of flowers and plants to fill in your beds and planters may require certain obligations of maintenance and upkeep. For instance, some plants may need frequent watering, while others won’t need much attention at all. Thus, make sure you find out all the properties of your flora before you go ahead and install them – you can save yourself a lot of hassle!
  4. Consider having ‘mobile’ landscaping in your front yard. This means using pots and planters and other containers that you can move, mix, and match at will. This will allow you to be flexible and adaptable with your landscaping as your mood and taste changes.
  5. There are two major kinds of plants that you can use: annuals and perennials. Annuals will only last you for one year, but they will give you an amazing burst of color and beauty for your yard during that season. Having to replace them year after year is both good and bad. The bad side of it is that you’ll have to remake your front yard landscape every year, but this can also be seen as a good thing, because then you’ll be able to ‘remake’ your landscape every year. This can allow you to experiment and play around with different landscape features.
  6. Perennials will last you for many years – each year they will bloom anew. These will be more expensive than annuals, but they will be the ‘centerpieces’ or focal points of your yard for years to come. Thus, it pays to choose carefully and make your big investments here. Once they’re planted, you’re stuck with them unless you want to go through the hassle of removing them. Thus, your best bet is probably to get a good mix between these two kinds of plants.
  7. Don’t forget to consider the kinds of topsoil and mulch you can use for your yard. You could also use landscaping rocks as well. Each will have their own benefits and drawbacks, so make sure you do your research before you commit to one or the other.

Some Warnings and Other Notes

  1. Note that some landscape installations will require more maintenance than others. Large lawns, for instance, have to be watered, fertilized, and mowed and trimmed regularly in order to keep it look healthy and beautiful. Huge flowerbeds, on the other hand, will require their own maintenance, such as periodic weeding and trimming to keep things looking nice. Thus, don’t just think about the short term benefits of whatever material you’re using – think also about the long term costs, i.e. how much time and energy you’ll have to sink into upkeep. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to put in effort into maintaining your front yard, that will significantly affect your landscape choices.
  2. Don’t go overboard. You don’t want your home to be absolutely overwhelmed by your landscaping. Sometimes less is more – having the perfectly selected or designed element can be much better than have dozens of different things in a complex arrangement.

Other Options and Accessories for Front Yard Landscaping

  1. Even though we are talking about front yard landscaping ideas here, we don’t want to forget the other important aspect of your design that goes hand in hand with the landscape – your front yard hardscape design! Your driveway, walkways, patios, stoops, retaining walls, and other stone accessories to your yard are perhaps just as important as the landscaping itself, since this hardscape gives shape and structure to your yard and interacts with the organic components in interesting ways. Thus, consider using concrete pavers or other hardscape materials as part of your total project – walkways are a particularly good use for this material, as are garden pavers and landscape pavers interspersed through your organics.
  2. Another thing to think about is using stepping stones as a pathway through various parts of your yard – more information on different kinds of stepping stone can be found in articles here: Large Stepping Stones, Round Stepping Stones, and Slate Stepping Stones.
  3. If you’ve spent this much time and money and energy on making your beautiful front yard, why not increase its curb appeal by adding outdoor lighting? This will make it so that everyone will be able to see your beautiful landscaping even at the darkest of night. There’s a lot I can say about this topic, so check out the articles on outdoor lighting and garden lighting for more information on this vast topic.
  4. Don’t forget the possibility of installing outdoor rooms in your front yard area. Whether an enclosed patio or a gazebo or whatever, this may be the ticket to a nice place to relax during a beautiful day or evening. However, this will work best only with large yards, as small yards may get cramped. Still, you could even install some kind of hardscape seating in yards of any size, so you can at least have a place to sit if you don’t have a deck or porch of some kind.
Some other articles you might enjoy related to this topic include articles on garden paving

Garden Lighting Ideas, Tips, and Designs

Garden lighting, also known as landscape lighting in some quarters, is a particular class of outdoor lighting that can add much beauty to your home, garden, and landscape.

Whether you go antique or modern, old-school or contemporary, you’ll be sure to add much value, beauty, and elegance to your home and garden by using these lights. However, the sheer variety of information and kinds of lighting and design that’s out there can be intimidating. To help you out, this article will give you a basic understanding of the ‘universe’ of outdoor lighting that exists out there. This article will be continually updated, so check back often for more information.

Benefits of and Reasons for Garden Lighting

There are many reasons to light up your garden or your landscape. The first, most obvious, reason is aesthetic – at night, no one can see the landscaping that you’ve spent so much time, money, and energy designing and creating. Of course, while aesthetics are important, they’re not the only reason: for instance, some use garden lighting to help protect their gardens, landscaping, walkways, etc. from people accidently stepping where they shouldn’t. You can illuminate a flowerbed to prevent people from stepping into it at night and potentially harming your installation. You can also light up a walking path through your yard and/or leading to your home to prevent people from tripping – this is the important safety element of proper garden lighting design.

Others install garden lights to help improve security around their home. Having a well-illuminated home may prevent robberies and other criminal activities – sometimes the best cure is prevention! This is especially true if you set up a motion-sensor connected flood light leading up to your house – this will prevent someone from sneaking up on your home unaware, and may prevent them from entering the area even if you’re not home, potentially discouraging robberies or vandalism.

The final major reason for installing garden and landscape lights is probably the most important – it enables you to make use of these spaces at night. For instance, you can light up your backyard patio, walkway, pool area, garden, and landscaping, enabling you to have an all-night barbecue or other party without fear of being left in the dark.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to installing garden lights. The main drawback is expense: outdoor lighting may not be cheap at times, especially when you’re dealing with fancy varieties or complex installations. But don’t worry if you can’t afford it all at the same time – this is the rare kind of home improvement project where you don’t have to do it all at once. Pick and choose what’s most important at the time, and then just do that – later, when you have the money, time, and inclination, expand your lighting as you see fit.

Kinds of Garden Lights

The most popular kinds of garden lights include low voltage garden lighting and (LED) solar powered garden lights. Lighting connected to mains is probably not going to be appropriate for most garden installations, simply because the light will be too bright for the purposes that most people want to use garden lighting for (soft, simple illumination). However, it is possible to use this, such as if you want to install a flood light of some kind, though you will want to hire an electrician to deal with this as you’ll want to make sure the installation is safe, well hidden, and protected against the elements.

The other main option is low voltage (usually 12V) lamps. These are connected not to the mains but to electricity that has been ‘transformed’ down to a lower voltage. You can get your own low voltage outdoor garden lighting kits and install this yourself with few problems – compare this to the main connected lighting above.

While most garden and landscaping lights will be powered by electricity, other lighting can potentially be powered by gas and other natural fuels. However, this is generally not viable for the purposes described in this article, as having open flames is usually not a good idea near vegetation and other potentially combustible areas. However, you can get garden lanterns and torches that emulate the look and feel of natural gas and propane alternatives if you’re looking for that antique appearance to your lighting.

If you are looking to save energy and protect the environment, solar garden lighting is probably your best bet, as it’s easy to install on your own since you won’t have to deal with laying wires or dealing with electricity in the usual sense. These LED garden lights options can either be powered individually, as each bulb will have its own photovoltaic cell and solar energy generator; or you can hook the lighting you’re your home’s solar panel system if you have one. However, this lighting is usually not as bright as the electric options, and if it doesn’t get enough sunlight it may not last long enough into the night for your taste. However, you can also get battery powered backups for these lights to make sure they have enough juice even during the cloudiest and darkest periods of the year. You can easily purchase solar outdoor lighting kits for relatively low cost, especially considering you probably won’t have to pay labor costs to get it installed by a contractor.

Garden Lighting Design Ideas

The first thing to keep in mind when installing your garden lights and designing the project is figuring out where you want to put them. For most projects, the location of the exterior garden lighting will be somewhat obvious. However, what may not be obvious are the ways to mount and display these lights.

The debate between mounting your lights and keeping them mobile is a debate that can’t be solved generally – it needs to be considered on a case by case basis. Having mounted lighting can give you the most options when it comes to the types and styles of lights to use, but of course it will be difficult to change things up. On the other hand, mobile lighting will restrict your options for light varieties while also allowing you to move your lights and experiment at will with different arrangements.

While we go into a more in-depth discussion of the locations of lights in the article about outdoor lighting, we’ll repeat them here:

  • You can install lights on posts or poles in the middle of your flowerbed or landscape. This also includes installing them in or on trees in the area.
  • Garden lights can also be mounted on walls nearby the area that’s to be illuminated, for instance near the home, a shed, or other area. A variant of the wall-mounted lights are the strings of lights that are strewn about the home; you can also place these strings of lights directly on the plants and landscaping that you already have set up. While the above two ideas (pole and wall mounted) give you illumination from above, otherwise known as “down lighting”…
  • Lights can also be buried ‘in grade’, or ‘recessed,’ to have illumination come from the ground up. They can also rest directly on the ground, as they don’t necessarily need to be buried. This is called “up lighting.” One example of this is path lights or concrete pavers lights; these lights are installed directly into the project to allow for illumination to line the path or trail as necessary. You can also bury these lights into your flowerbeds and other landscaping installations to create subtle but effective illumination in those areas. You can also put other lights at the ground level of trees and other shrubbery to illuminate them differently than simply putting them up at the top of the structures. Putting them in flowerbeds and other landscaping installations can illuminate your flowers, statues, stepping stones, walkways, and other structures that you want to be visible at night.
  • Depending on what you’re working with in the area of illumination, you can also mount these lights on ceilings (hanging lights).
  • String lighting is also interesting, not only for trees but also shrubs of any kind. It doesn’t have to be Christmas or the holiday season to use these!
  • Much of these garden lighting ideas are stationary, but you can also get lighting that is a bit more mobile. Torches, lamps, and other lighting fixtures can be easily transported as aesthetics or function dictates (for instance, if you want to move the main gathering area for a party).

Some Other Outdoor and Deck Lighting Ideas

  1. Besides motion activated lights, you can also get lights that turn on according to the directions of a timer. Some lights will also turn on automatically when the ambient light gets to a certain point (i.e. they will turn on at night and turn off in the morning by themselves).
  2. Note when installing any garden or landscape lighting to be careful about the wiring. You want to make sure that the wiring is accessible enough to be maintained or replaced as necessary but not so vulnerable as to be potentially cut or damaged during other excavation or digging. Thus, you may need to hire an electrician or contractor to get the job done correctly. This is one of the advantages of solar garden lights – you often don’t have to deal with any wiring at all.
  3. Note that some lighting will require permits and other applications to your local town or county, so make sure you do research pertaining to your local area before you commit to any project. Note that many landscape designers and contractors will probably be able to tell you what you need to do here, so use them as a resource.
  4. Some general garden lights landscape advice: aside from the location of the lights, don’t forget to think about their orientation. Where are they pointing? In what direction? What is the interaction between different lights in the area? There’s an art and a science to all this, so don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if you have access to cheap garden lights that you can play around with liberally.
  5. You can also integrate your lights into your hardscape structures. We’ve already discussed paver lights, used especially for walkways, outdoor patios, pool decks, and driveways, but don’t forget the vertical structures. Adding lights to retaining walls and paver steps may be a great way to illuminate these structures for both beauty and safety.
  6. Don’t forget about underwater lighting? If you have a pool, pond, fountain, or waterfall, or any other body of water, don’t forget the possibility of using these outdoor lights to illuminate them. The lighting can wall mounted, submerged in the water, or even floating on the surface, among other options!
  7. Note that heat is an issue – you don’t want the lights to get too hot for the kinds of plants you have, lest you kill them!

Some Final Garden Lighting Tips

Here are some final tips to help you when you’re putting the finishing touches on your project:
Note that you may not want the light itself to be visible – thus, consider blocking it or covering it with another structure (rock, bush, whatever) to make the light itself disappear while still allowing the illumination emanating from it to do its job.
Don’t forget the possibilities of using lights to ‘pick out’ or highlight particular areas or structures in your yard. For instance, you can illuminate your new waterfall solely, or use lights to illuminate the entire garden area. What the light ‘focuses’ on will often determine how the entire area looks.
Experiment with different light brightness levels. Bright lights are more appropriate for functional and security reasons, while dimmer lights and ‘backlights’ may be more suitable for aesthetic reasons – i.e. they will look the best from a distance.

An Outdoor Lighting Guide: What You Need to Know

Though this is primarily a site about concrete pavers, we of course want to cover all the aspects of outdoor home improvement and design that we can to maximize the beauty and functionality of your hardscape investment. When many people think of outdoor lighting, they think about the string lights that are often put up around homes during Christmas. But this is just a small fraction of the choices for lighting available, and the benefits you’ll get from installing it can be immense. If you are sprucing up your front yard or backyard, don’t forget about making sure it’s visible at night! The right outdoor lighting can transform the appearance of your home, and it can allow you to use your new hardscape and landscape through all hours of the night. Plus, it can also make your home look more attractive from the street.

Another major benefit is not just aesthetic, it’s also practical: safety. Making sure your backyard or frontyard environment is well lit is a good way to prevent trips, falls, and other accidents. You can also use it as protection against would-be thieves or interlopers.

Exterior lighting is resistant to water and weather – as it should be – and is relatively easy to install. However, some projects may require the aid of an electrician, especially if you are dealing with lots of electricity, so you will definitely not want to do this work yourself! You’ll want to make sure that you’re using lighting that’s meant for wet and outdoor areas – lighting meant for dry, indoor environments could short out and get damaged when exposed to the elements. In addition, you may have to get certain permits and follow certain rules and laws given your local area; you may also need periodic inspections to confirm that there are no hazards associated with your installation, especially if you have heavy-duty lights installed.

Of course, the huge amount of lighting options out there can be very confusing. This article thus seeks to give you a good guide to explain the many kinds of modern outdoor lighting available for purchase as well as a discussion of the design options you have at your disposal, regardless of the project.

While much of what follows applies to commercial lighting, much of this advice is most applicable to residential applications.

Picking the Basic Type of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures

There are two main types of outdoor lights – gas powered and electric (bulb) powered lights. Each comes with its own drawbacks and benefits.

Electric powered lights are very popular, as they give an elegant and modern look to the area. There are three kinds of ‘electric lights.’ One kind, powered by the electric mains, gives the strongest light, and is best for security and safety rather than aesthetics. For instance, these are best for outdoor flood lights, especially for a business or secure area that needs to be protected from interlopers. However, there is a ton of voltage and power going to these lights, so safety is an issue – for instance, the main line that connects to the light must be well hidden and protected. The amount of power that can be used ranges from 40 to 1000 watts. Only the brightest lights will need these high values; most will be satisfied with a 40 to 100 watt light.

If you don’t need such bright lighting, you could go with low voltage outdoor lighting. This is often used as garden lighting, such as that used to light up a particular path or to illuminate a flower bed or other landscaping installation. This lighting will not be as high a voltage (usually around 12V), so you won’t need to worry about protecting people from potentially getting electrocuted with it. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure the lines are out of the way and insulated against water and weather, but no extra special precautions need be taken like they do with mains lighting. Installing this lighting yourself is very doable, and there are plenty of low voltage outdoor lighting kits out there that you can purchase and set up without the need for a contractor or electrician.

The final type of exterior lighting is solar powered. These solar powered LED lights are not as bright as the other options, but they can still serve some aesthetic purposes if used correctly. The best feature for these is that they don’t need to be plugged into an electricity source, as they are powered by the sun – simply put them where you want them and you’re done! A solar panel diverts energy to a battery during the day; this battery then powers up the lights at night.

Gas powered lights are more ‘traditional’ but may be a bit more of a hassle to install and maintain, especially if you don’t have any gas to pipe in to the area. Still, if you’re looking for something nostalgic and antique-ish, go with this option, though you might find you have fewer options available here than you will with electric lights.

You will also want to figure out if you want to create a modern or antique theme to your lighting. Most homeowners go with the modern option, though the antique option can absolutely look well in many different home environments. Modern lighting is generally silver and black in color and is not very complex in its lines, while antique lighting can pull in a wider range of colors and designs.

Designing Your Outside Lights Project

Don’t stress too much about your lighting design. Sure, there are plenty of options available for you when it comes to your outdoor lighting design, but don’t worry about getting it ‘exactly right.’ You’ll have to experiment and use trial and error, unless you hire a contractor or designer to do the creating for you, so just go with your gut and what you think you’ll enjoy. Don’t forget the other factors besides looks – function, protection, and safety. And it goes without saying that budget can be an issue – a seemingly modest decorative outdoor lighting project can soon turn financially serious if you’re not careful!

Draw up a plan of your home, or have someone do it for you. On this picture, mark where you will want to install outdoor and landscape lighting. Obviously, if your project is small, you can skip this step. Make sure that it will be feasible to install the lights in those areas; for example, you may need to run a significant amount of wiring in order to have your plan work out like you want – this may mean added time and expense to your project.

One of the first things that you need to figure out is the location of that you want to set up your lights as well as how you want to ‘mount’ them in the area. Some of the popular areas to put lights include: walkways, patios, pool decks and other yard decking, gardens and landscape features, entrances and exits of yards, homes, and sheds/garages, and mounted on walls and columns to illuminate large patches of the back or front yard. They may also be useful as security, especially if they are set up with motion sensors. Some lights can also be put into water, such as if you have a waterfall or pond or pool in your backyard that you want to light up. Don’t forget about using lighting for ambiance as well – sometimes very low level LED landscape lighting is all you need to transform your landspace. There are many ways to mount your lights, depending of course on what kinds of lights you are dealing with. Your options include:

  • The most basic kind of mount is putting the light on a wall. You can either attach it directly to the wall or other surface, or you can mount a bracket on the surface of the wall and then set the light up there. These brackets themselves can give you many design options, as you can buy these items in a variety of styles and materials.
  • Mount your lights on a post or column. The column can be made from many different materials (such as wood or metal) and can be installed wherever you want at whatever height you want. This means you can mount your light at whatever height you want in order to produce the desired functional or aesthetic appearance. This option obviously includes the lights and torches that already come in a column or post format.
  • If you have an outdoor area available that is covered by some kind of ceiling, you can add hanging lights to the area.

During this process you also need to determine how many lights you will need to cover the space. Obviously this depends on a number of factors, including the types of lights you’re using, the square footage of the area, other light that may be already installed, and the amount of light you want to use (or the ‘effect’ you want to create with your lighting). This is where somewhat of a judgment call comes in, and you may want to experiment a bit with different kinds and numbers of lights (if feasible) in order to get the look you want. Obviously this testing won’t be possible for those on a smaller budget, so your mileage may vary here.

In addition, realize that there also many different ways to ‘display’ your lighting. In other words, you can do things like down or up lighting, spot lighting, shadowing, cross lighting, and much more. In other words: where is the light pointing? Is it direct or diffuse? How is it interacting with other lights in the area? Obviously, you don’t have to go fancy here if you don’t want to, but just be aware of these options here.

Note that getting lighting just right can be tricky. Sometimes lights that you think will be ‘understated’ will be totally invisible or even too much, while other times the opposite can be true. That’s why, though it’s useful to consult with pictures, videos, and other visual aids in order to see what works best in certain environments, it won’t be a cure-all, as your specific home context will be different from anything else you see.

Suggestions for Outdoor Landscape Lighting (Ideas)

  • Lanterns are an interesting throwback, though modern ones are also available. These can either be mounted on posts and columns, wall mounted, or bracket mounted. Some of these lanterns can be truly unique, so you’ll have a lot of freedom to explore different styles and designs, all depending on your home’s theme and your tastes and style.
  • Outdoor post lights are also a great way to either set off particular areas for seating (such as patios), but these poles are probably best used as a way to line a path or walkway through your yard or walking up to your house.
  • One of the coolest outdoor lighting ideas is path lighting. You can use path lighting for your gardens, walkways, and other installations. One very popular option for those who use concrete pavers or other paving stones is paver lights – these lights can be placed within the paver installation so that they seamlessly blend with your project. A especially useful version of this kind of lighting is step lighting – having your steps illuminated, or even surrounded by path lights, will both increase their beauty at night and prevent injuries, trips, and falls.
  • There are many different uses for outdoor wall lights, but most of the time these lights will be mounted in the front or back of your home. They can be used in the front to light up the façade of your home, or you can use them in back to help light up a patio or pool deck area, depending on the layout of your home.
  • Hanging lights are a bit less flexible due to the fact that they have to be ‘hung’ from somewhere. Of course, if you have an enclosed patio or walkway, this could work very well as a way to light a path in a unique way. However, don’t discount the use of these lights at the front of a home, hanging down from the roof or other overhang. They can be a great way to call attention to your home and make it stand out from the crowd.
  • Note as well that you can often get energy efficient or low energy bulbs. This is a great idea if you’re planning on leaving your lighting on more or less permanently, as otherwise you could face a rather hefty electric bill.

Brick Paving Patterns: Some Information

When using brick pavers to create a patio, walkway, driveway, pool deck, or other creation, there are many patterns you can lay the brick in depending on your taste and goals. Note that the following article is based on the standard size of bricks. Differently sized bricks offer further options for design, as do irregularly shaped bricks.

There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to designs for brick pavers or any pavers. If you make the brick paving patterns simple, they will blend into the environment more. Other features of your home and landscape will thus become more apparent; the hardscaping will simply complement these features.

If you want to have your hardscape – patio, walkway, etc. – draw the eye more, or be the centerpiece to your yard, pick more complex brick paver patterns. When a pattern is complex, or different from the other parts of the yard which it goes with, it attracts more attention.

Brick Patio Patterns

Let’s take, for example, the possible patterns you could use for patios. These same patterns can also be used for driveways and pool decks or any other area that is wide and long. Some of these patterns can also be used for walkways, but more specific examples are discussed in the below section for that hardscape type.

First, you can decide whether to lay the pattern in a 90 degree or 45 degree pattern. If you lay it 90 degrees, either perpendicular or parallel to other lines in your yard, it will blend in more and even make the area look larger. If you lay the pavers at a 45 degree angle, the area will look more complex and thus attract the eye. It will also make the install area look smaller.

The first major pattern to think about is stretcher pattern, also known as the running bond. This is essentially laying the pavers is straight lines and is the easiest to install. The direction that the brick pavers are laid will determine which direction looks ‘longer.’ For example, if you lay the pavers in a stretcher pattern across the width of a patio, it’ll look longer in that direction, and the same for length if you lay it in the other direction.

The next type of brick patterns for patio is the basket weave pattern. This is an old fashioned look and works best with these brick pavers that already look ‘old’ or ‘used.’  They are laid in units of two vertical pavers side by side and one horizontal paver covering either the top or bottom. Another kind of basket weave is two vertical pavers followed by two horizontal pavers and two vertical and so on.

The final type of brick paver pattern is the herringbone pattern. This is a very popular pattern, but it is complex to install compared to other options. It is essentially the alternation of vertical and horizontal patterns in a ‘diagonal’ like shape. If laid at 45 degrees, this paving pattern is very noticeable and will attract a lot of attention. If laid at 90 degrees, it will be a little more understated but will still dominate the hard and landscape.

Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of traffic to expect on your installation. This applies mostly to driveways. Certain patterns do better with certain traffic on your driveway. For instance, herringbone works best with parked cars, while stretcher pattern is for places where high acceleration or deceleration is expected.

Keep in mind that you can pair any of these major patterns with borders of various types, using the same or different paver shapes and colors.

Brick Walkway Patterns

Many of the same patterns can be used with walkway pavers. However, since these walkways are often thinner in one direction, care must be taken when deciding upon a pattern. For instance, a running bond laying across the width of the walkway may help make it look thicker than it is. In addition, an overly complex pattern may require a ton of cuts in order to fit the bricks into the pattern correctly. This will raise the materials and labor costs of the project and is generally not recommended.

Another general pattern for any installation is a random mix. This can be tricky, however, especially when different sized bricks are mixed together. This should only be attempted by someone experienced with installing pavers, as properly installing them will require good ‘mixing’ of patterns, shapes, sizes, and colors sot hat the pattern will appear ‘random’ to the observer.

More information on concrete paver patterns can be found by following this link.

Twelve Front Yard Walkways Ideas

The walkway in your front yard is what greets your visitors, and it’s what you see every day when you walk to your front door. This is what makes them so important – they define the initial experience of your home for you and your guests. A poorly planned and constructed walkway can mar an otherwise beautiful and well-designed front yard. If you want to install a new walkway, and you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas on front yard walkways design:

  1. Set your budget for your walkway. This will determine the types of materials that you will be able to use for your installation.
  2. First, you need to decide what kind of materials to use for your front yard walkway. One great choice are concrete pavers or paving stones.
  3. You could also go with natural stone pavers or brick pavers as well if you like the idea of pavers but want a different material.
  4. Concrete is a good standby material – cheap and strong, it does however leave something to be desired aesthetically. You could go with stamped or colored concrete if you are willing to pay extra for the improved looks.
  5. Asphalt is also an option. Though it is cheap, it is unideal in terms of its looks.
  6. Rock or stone is also a possibility, but it can be high maintenance.
  7. The material you select will also depend on the design for your walkway. Figure out how you want it to wind through your yard. Will it start at the driveway or will it start at the road or sidewalk? Will it curve around to the backyard and hook up with any other hardscapes? How long and wide will it be – what are its dimensions? Will it have curves or just be straight? These are all important questions to figure out before you move to the next stage. A sketch is usually a good idea to make sure it’s all on paper and so that you can show it to a contractor if necessary.
  8. Pretend to walk your ‘walkway’ even if it’s not laid. Is it comfortable? Is it natural? Can it handle heavy traffic, or two people next to each other? Three people? Figure out what the experience of walking the walkway would be before you confirm your decisions.
  9. Consider how you will add landscaping to your front yard area, and how that will blend in with your new walkway and other features of your landscape and hardscape as well as your home’s theme and style. An arch, walkway lights, planters and gardens, and interesting stones can all add a layer of sophistication and complexity to your front entrance.
  10. Steps or a stoop might be a great addition to your home, or you can upgrade an existing installation to match or complement your new walkway. You can even use the same material for the stoop as you do for the walkway or other projects you create.
  11. If you hire a contractor, make sure to see front yard walkways pictures of his prior work so you can get an idea of his skill and style.
  12. Consider the possibility of installing the walkway yourself. If you have the DIY skills, you could save a lot of money on labor costs and possibly use a better material. Don’t experiment, though, if you know little, as the walkway is such a crucial element of your home.

If you have any more ideas, leave them in the comments below!

10 Great Garden Paving Ideas

Adding concrete pavers, cement pavers, brick pavers, or other hardscape materials to your garden is a great choice. However, you may be overwhelmed with all the options and design possibilities. Here are some things to consider when planning your next garden paving project.

Note that this site also contains many other articles detailing paver design ideas as well as ideas concerning other project types. Here is a brief listing of the articles that you might find helpful for more inspiration:

8 Wonderful Patio Ideas

Ideas for Using 24 x 24 Concrete Pavers

10 Cheap Paving Ideas

12 Front Yard Walkways Ideas

10 DIY Patio Ideas

Now, on to the ten ideas!

Ten Garden Paving Ideas

1) The type of material you choose is very important. Price, quality, and durability will vary depending on the material, brand, and manufacturer. We here at Concrete Pavers Guide recommend garden paving stones for your next project for many reasons that can be found all throughout this site. Just to mention one, concrete paver installations stand up well to the use and abuse that they can be subjected with. The garden paving stone is a very durable critter. Freezing and thawing cycles, for instance, can cause havoc with normal garden paving slabs made out of concrete or some other solid material, as they provide no protection against cracks or fissures. Pavers, on the other hand, will rise and fall with the freezing and thawing with no cracking or structural damage to the installation. More information on this article can be found all throughout this site – it is called the Concrete Pavers Guide after all!

2) One of the best garden paving ideas is installing a walkway through your garden or landscape. You can tailor this walkway to fit the dimensions of your garden, and you can use it to provide a walking path for your visitors through your front or backyard creation. They thus serve a dual use, which all great home improvement project should – aesthetics and function (looks and use).

3) Be aware of all the color options available for your pavers, as you will surely be able to find a combination that complements your landscape features nicely. It would be quite beautiful, for example, to have flowers with a color that matches that of your paving stone project. You can choose from single colors or double and triple color blends.

4) Create a backyard patio that centers within your landscape. Your scene will thus frame your beautiful patio, and the two will nicely complement each other. Imagine entertaining friends and family in your own backyard paradise! A paver patio is one of my favorite projects, as it adds so much to a yard.

5) Garden paving is often a good DIY project for those with little experience, as many of these installations need to be purely functional. You can then practice installing pavers or other materials without fear of marring your front walkway, driveway, or back patio. After you’ve gained facility in installing pavers, you can then move on to tackling projects with more aesthetic restrictions and needed skills.

6) If you are on a budget, you may want to consider other options for materials for concrete pavers. They are expensive, and so is the labor and time required to install them properly. You may choose to obtain garden paving slabs, despite the problems listed above. If the slab is small, you may see less cracking over time. However, your design options will be limited, especially if you create a walkway or patio out of these small slabs.

7) Don’t forget the idea of enclosing your patio and/or your garden. An enclosed patio is a great way to increase the ways and time you can use your patio and enjoy your backyard landscape and garden.

8) Landscape pavers can be used in many ways, ways that are only limited by your creativity. For instance, you can use them to edge different areas of your garden or landscape. You can also use them to build retaining walls; retaining wall pavers can be in the same color and style as the pavers you use for other projects around your yard. You can use other materials, such as landscape timbers, for your wall, or you can just use the plain poured concrete wall as well.

9) Adding structures to your backyard – such as statues or fountains – is a great way to increase the class and elegance of your home and garden. You can buy them preformed, of course, or you can find concrete molds for sale and make them yourself – as long as you feel proficient with pouring concrete!

10) Finally, consider using pavers to raise a particular area out of the ground. This can be done to create a raised paver patio, for instance. Building a paver patio doesn’t have to be hard, either, even if you are raising it, though most people will want to hire a contractor for the work.

If you have any other garden paving ideas, or other questions or comments, leave them below!

Concrete Paver Patterns

Once the plan has been set and the relevant preparations (installation of the base and sand) have been completed, it is time to lay the concrete pavers. There are many different paver patterns available, all depending on the shape of the pavers and the size of the project. The number of patterns keeps increasing as new paver shapes are designed and as the creativity of contractors and landscapers continues to produce new ideas. Still, there are some patterns, like the running bond and herringbone (described below), that are classics. Picking your paver pattern may not seem as important as picking the brand of paver or the color, but you’d be surprised as to just how important it is.

The Basics of Picking a Paver Pattern

The major factor that determines what kinds of patterns are at your disposal is the shape of the paver you select. The shape and patterns of pavers go hand in hand – when you pick one, you in some sense pick the other. Thus, when you are thinking about patterns of laid pavers or their sizes, you must (by necessity) think of the others as well. You will want to make sure that the size paver you select is appropriate both to the space it will be installed in and to the implementation of the actual pattern you’ve selected. In general, smaller spaces do better with simpler patterns; larger spaces can use either simple or complex patterns.

When considering different designs for a paving stones application, such as patio paver patterns, considerable attention should be brought to bear on the optical effects that the particular pattern will bring. A simple pattern, like running bond, where the pavers are in a straight line, will simply make the project ‘blend in’ to its environment. It will not draw the eye, and perhaps this is what you want.

However, other patterns will draw the eye more and make the paving stone project the center of attention. For example, the project will look different if the pavers are placed at  a 45 degree angle to the house than if they were parallel or perpendicular. Still another feeling may be evoked with a more complex or a random pattern. The more complex and eye catching a pattern, the more people will pay attention to the area itself over anything else, so you need to consider the aesthetics of your space. What do you want you and your guests to look at? Some complex patterns also make the space look smaller than it is, so keep this in mind when designing your project. Other patterns may make the area look longer or wider, larger or smaller. This consideration is especially important when laying walkway pavers, as the pattern will affect the relative width or length of the project according to an observer’s eye.

How Patterns Affect Paver Price

Keep in mind as well that one paver pattern may be more expensive than another due to size considerations and the amount of cuts required. A pattern at a 45 degree angle, for example, or one that incorporates curves, will require more cuts and thus affect the overall time to completion (and thus price!). The more pavers that have to be cut by hand, the more time spent on the job by contractors, and the more brick that are required. Thus, the project may be more expensive. It may pay to select a simpler design just to reduce the costs of the project.  Another feature that could increase the time and cost is any curves or special patterns (like circle kits) added to the design. While it will certainly improve the looks of your project, it will come at a rather steep pavers cost.

Other Minor Considerations

Some concrete pavers patterns are more complex than others and require more skill to install properly. A novice installer may make a mistake in the pattern and only notice it when a lot more of the interlocking pavers have been installed. If a contractor is installing the paving stone application for you, this may not matter as much, though you will want to make sure your contractor has the experience working with the design you’ve chosen. This is why it’s important to pick the right pavers contractor – follow this link for some some tips.

Keep in mind that some patterns are stronger than others. Herringbone patterns, for example, provide more interlocking than others, and may be a better choice for projects that need to withstand a lot of traffic (such as driveway pavers).

Some Example Paver Patterns

Here below we detail some of the patterns possible with bricks of various shapes and sizes. All of these patterns apply to pavers regardless of the material – concrete, brick, or natural stone (i.e. flagstone pavers). They are organized according to the sizes and styles of brick available with Nicolock pavers. Nicolock usually has the standard brick sizes available in other brands, so it’s a good stand in, but we eventually want to expand this page with more examples and, eventually, images of the most popular patterns that you can use – so stay tuned!

Note that you can also mix and match pavers patterns, adding a straight border to a herringbone or running bond pattern, for instance. We are also not considering some of the more rare and unique patterns due to uniquely shaped brick – i.e. anything outside of the ‘quadrilateral’ family. Don’t forget, also, that a ‘random’ or ‘irregular’ pattern can also be laid with particular kinds of paving stones.

Always consult with your designer, contractor, or paver manufacturer for more ideas and suggestions!

Holland Stone

Borders: Soldier Course with Herringbone Pattern, Soldier Course with Running Bond Pattern, Sailor Course with 45 degree Herringbone Pattern, double sailor course with double basketweave pattern;

Patterns: Double Basketweave, Single Basketweave, Running Bond, Stack Bond, 90 Degree Herringbone, 45 Degree Herringbone, Single Offset Herringbone, 45 Degree Running Bond, Double offset Herringbone

Cobblestone:

Runner, Parquet or Basketweave, or Herringbone

Multiweave:

45 Degree Herringbone, 90 Degree Herringbone, Running Bond Pattern, Basketweave Pattern, Stack Bond Pattern

Roma 1:

Running Bond, Herringbone, or used as border for Roma 2

Roma 2:

Running bond, installed in random pattern with Roma 1, can have circles installed as well.

Rustico Series:

6×6 Running bond, 6×9 Running Bond

More Articles

The Concrete Pavers Guide also has more articles on this and related topics, listed here:

Brick Paving Patterns: Some Information

Design Possibilities for Concrete and Brick Pavers

One of the major advantages of concrete pavers is that they allow you to be very playful and free with the designs of your project. You are not limited in shapes, colors, and patterns as you are with more popular paving materials like concrete and asphalt. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to create some complex pattern or design if you don’t want to; sometimes simpler is indeed better, both for your budget and for the look you’re trying to create. The deal is, of course, that you at least have the options available if you so choose to pursue them.

This article will give you a general  overview of some of the design possibilities available for your next project, whether it be a driveway, patio, walkway, pool deck, landscape, or garden creation. Consider adding some of these ideas to your paver designs. Note that some of them will require extra expense, as noted in the description, so if you’re on a budget you’ll have to be careful not to go too nuts. Still, you can add some interesting flairs to the design often without increasing the cost.

Note that these designs apply to all types of pavers. Whether they are concrete pavers, brick pavers, natural stone pavers, plain bricks, or others, you can use your creativity to apply these patterns and designs with one or more materials, some of which have not been mentioned here. Note that some of the options may work better with one type or the other; for instance, brick pavers are hard to cut, so designs that require curves and heavy cuts may be challenging with this type of material.

General Layout of Your Pavers

Changes in Elevation: How your pavers react to changes in elevation may depend on the actual changes in grade, but consider the options here for how you may want the pavers to ascend or descend that grade. (For instance, check out this article on the raised paver patio.) You could go with small steps, medium sized landings, or something else. Obviously, a lot of this will depend on the specific physical and engineering needs of the project, so consult with a contractor/engineer if the design will incorporate heavy changes in grades (i.e. slope or elevation).

Curves: Adding curves to your installation gives your walkway (or other project, use your imagination!) elegance and sophistication. Many paving stones designs and brick paver designs work better with curves.

Paver Pattern Designs

In this paver pattern discussion on this site, I give more details on the available patterns. But here are some other ideas:

Patterns: As described on other pages here at the CPG, the patterns (particular ways to lay the brick, like herringbone patters) available are varied, and depend on the shapes of the brick your purchase. Some patterns will look better than others given the dimensions and scope of your paving stone designs, so be sure to consider all options available to find the best fit. The pattern you select will determine how the eye will or will not be drawn to the project, and thus whether or not the project will be the ‘centerpiece’ or the ‘complement’ to the rest of the landscape and hardscape.

Circles: Adding circles of varying sizes to your patio, driveway, or poolside is a great way to spruce up the beauty of your home. To install concrete paver circles you will need to have a circle kit. Each company makes its own kinds of circle kits, often in limited colors, so you’ll need to ensure that the color and style of paver you select for the patio or driveway as a whole has an optional circle kit that you can purchase. Installing a circle kit can be challenging, as it has to be laid from the center out to be done properly.

Engraved or Illustrated Pavers: You can get pavers and paving stones with certain designs either engraved, painted, or otherwise layered on the surface of the brick. This could be a fun addition to your outdoor patio or driveway, for example.

Additional Structures

When building your new patio, walkway, driveway, or whatever, consider adding these extra features to your application:

Walls: One way to spruce up your concrete and brick pavers designs is to add walls. Some walls are purely functional and are installed as retaining walls to keep back dirt or line the bottom of a hill. Some walls, however, can be purely cosmetic, integrated closely with your design. Often paver companies sell wall stone in the same color and style as regular concrete paving stones, so probably be able to match up the components either perfectly or by using complementary colors.

Waterfalls: Adding a custom waterfall to your backyard or pool setting is a great way to add style and taste to your patio or pool deck. The engineering for a waterfall is a bit more complex than usual paver installations, so you will probably have to call a professional (and your contractor may have to sub-contract out the water work).

Fire Pits: A great addition to a backyard patio, a fire pit is a great way to add some campfire fun right at home. Certain regulations may apply for installing this fire pit, so definitely consult with a contractor.

Steps and Stoops: Adding a new set of steps or a stoop to your home entrance may be a great option for you, especially if you are installing a walkway to your home. You can often use the same pavers for the stoop as for the walkway, with a few minor additions to complete your concrete pavers designs. Don’t forget to add concrete balusters where needed to give people a place to grab on to when walking through the area.

Enclosed Areas: Keep away from the sun and rain by enclosing your patio, either with a permanent structure or with a removable tent or overhang of some kind. Read more in this article about the enclosed patio.

Stepping Stones: You can also use pavers to create stepping stone like designs. To do this, simply use paving slabs or other larger versions of these pavers. Another interesting idea is to make small squares or circles of pavers in the form of round stepping stones. Simply install small bases in the area where you want your ‘stones,’  lay the pavers, and you’ll have ‘stepping pavers.’

Landscaping: This is an entire subject on its own, so I won’t cover it here. For more information, check out these articles, such as this one on landscaping rocks.

A Final Word

Safety First: Of course, what looks nice may not turn out to be safe. Never compromise with safety, not only to protect against physical harm but also to protect against damage to your home and property.

Mixing and Matching: You can also mix and match the materials and design possibilities mentioned here for an integrated, well-thought out look for your front or backyards.