Different Mulch Types: Pros and Cons

If you have a garden or landscaping installation that you want to properly take care of, mulching is probably tops on your list. Mulching has many benefits. Of course, mulch can add a certain aesthetic value to your garden or landscape; while sometimes beautiful and rich topsoil can do the job, other times having mulch, which can come in a variety of shades, textures, appearances, can add the extra bit of pizzazz to your garden.

The Many Benefits of Mulch for Your Garden or Landscape

Mulching also has other benefits besides look. It can help moderate temperature, so that your plants will better withstand high and low temperatures. Putting down this material will keep the soil moist; this will help the plants stay alive even in dry weather, as the moisture that’s held in to the mulch will help keep the plants hydrated. It will also help prevent the sun from drying up the surface of the soil by preventing the evaporation of said water.

In addition, mulch can be a deterrent of weeds, given that the mulch material is free of weeds and is applied correctly so that it will prevent the growth of new weeds and/or kill existing weeds.

In addition, mulch can help protect the surface of the soil itself from crusting or compacting. This keeps the flow of water running through your garden project. It will also protect the soil from the effects of water and wind erosion, as it will help keep it all in place.

Another feature depends on the type of mulch you use (more on this in a minute), so picking the right kind is certainly important, as some mulches (organic ones) will add nutrients to the soil to keep your garden healthy.

The Two Major Mulch Types

Of course, the key question here is the type of mulches you should use for your project. Of course, as you might expect there are many factors involved that help determine the kind of mulch you should use. For the rest of this article we will discuss the different kinds of mulch, their advantages and disadvantages, and other factors that may come into play when it comes time to select your mulch type.

There are two general mulch types: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches are made from things that were previously alive in some form, usually vegetable or plant matter. Thus, common varieties of organic mulch include wood chips (of various types of trees, such as cedar), grass clippings, bark, leaves,a nd others. One of the biggest benefits of this class of material that can be stated outright is that, given the material is made from (formerly) living matter, it will decay into the soil, thereby adding nutrients to it to help support your plants for the long haul.

Of course, there are also inorganic mulches. These are made from non-natural, or man-made, materials, and these include plastics, stones and pebbles, fabric, gravel, and others. These materials generally do not biodegrade, so you won’t get the beneficial effect described above. However, this kind of material has advantages over organic ones too, which I’ll explain in a minute.

More on Organic Mulch Types

As stated above, organic mulches add nutrients to the top soil, helping to support a thriving garden. They also look natural and beautiful, and they will enhance the look of any garden. There are some drawbacks to keep in mind. First, since this material does decay, you will have to replace it more often than not. Second, this dead matter can attract bugs and other pests. Third, some of these materials may have the propensity to blow or wash away, so keep that in mind when you’re filling in your beds.

At the bottom of the organic totem pole are grass, hay, and straw. These should be used with care, because if used in correctly they can cause more trouble, such as weeds, than good. Still, these are popular given that you will probably have these as ‘waste’ products of other parts of your landscape care. In all cases, the clippings should be dry before use to prevent forming a ‘mat’ that will prevent the drainage of water. Furthermore, out of this group, grass and straw are best, because sometimes hay can contain weeds. Overall, the mulch in this category will have to be replaced often given the speed with which they will decay. This speed of decay will provide a nice, quick burst of nutrients to the soil, however. Another thing to be careful about: don’t use clippings in your garden if they come from a lawn that had pesticides applied to it!

Another disadvantage of grass, hay, and straw is that it doesn’t look particularly pleasant. These materials are best reserved for vegetable gardens or other gardens whose primary function is, well, function and not beauty.

Depending on the garden, using plants as “mulch” to cover the surface of the flowerbed may work well. Popular mulches in this category include ivy and different kinds of grasses.

The next kinds of organic mulch come from trees. First in this category come leaves. These work really well, but you’ll want to make sure to slice and dice them with a shredder. Putting them down whole is not the answer, as you want to avoid putting down a thick layer of any kind of mulch that won’t drain properly and will in effect cut off the plants’ water supply. In addition, whole leaves may be picked up by the wind, causing a big mess. (Depending on the wind, this may still happen!) On the other hand, you don’t want to make the leaves too fine, otherwise they will just form a mat on the surface and defeat the purpose of the mulch. Thus, you’ll want to be careful with the size of the leaves.

Another tree product includes bark and pine needles. These work well at many different thicknesses simply because they are so porous. However, beware about the composition and content of your soil and plants; needles, for instance, can be acidic, and this may not work well in some environs. Pine bark is a popular variety of this material. You can get it in a variety of sizes and shapes, though this wood material may obviously attract certain kinds of pests. In general, though, pine needles and bark will look very nice for many gardens.

Finally, we come to the most popular variety of mulch of all: wood chips. These of course come from the wood of the trees themselves. There are many reasons to use these wood chips, including their insulation properties and their weed-preventing aspects. However, because they are made from wood, you will have to beware the invasion of termites who will see the mulch as quite the feast.

More on Inorganic Mulch Types

Let’s move on from the organic to the inorganic. This material doesn’t decay like organic matter does; while this may be a drawback in some instances, in others it may be a boon. Another advantage of this material is that it will not attract pests like organic matter can. In addition, it is relatively maintenance free if installed correctly. In general, this material is more ‘permanent’ than organic varieties, especially stones and pebbles which are difficult to remove.

One popular variety is plastic, especially black plastic (or polyethylene film). One advantage of this material is that you can use it to support and protect your garden better; in addition, you can plant seeds earlier with the protection and aid of this material. Plastic can also help keep in water, which is great as long as the area you’re mulching isn’t too wet. However, note that plastic doesn’t do well in the hot sun, as it will soften and deform in it. Thus, you’ll want to reserve it for the cooler parts of the year. Second, as stated above, this material won’t decay like organic varieties do, so you’ll lose the benefit of the nutrient deposits with this kind of material.

Another popular man-made mulch is woven cloth, plastic, and paper. These will be porous to allow water and air to reach your soil.

If you’re looking for a distinctive aesthetic, stones and pebbles also work well. These are not man-made, but they are not inorganic as they are not, for all intents and purposes, descended from organic life. Just like with the needles and other organic materials, you’ll want to be sure that your particular plants can deal with the alkaline conditions that some of these rocks can cause in the plants. In addition, the stone can sometimes absorb or reflect the sun’s rays, increasing the local temperature around the garden. As always, knowledge of what your plants need is the key! More information can be found in this article on landscaping rocks.

Don’t forget that you can combine some of these varieties together! For instance, black plastic can go well with wood chips or pine needles if the plastic is buried in the soil. This will give you the structural benefits of the plastic with the aesthetics and nutritional value of the wood mulch.

For more landscaping advice, check out this article about some useful front yard landscaping ideas. And for more articles about gardening, check out these articles on garden fencing

A Granite Tile Guide: What You Need to Know

The Basics of Granite Tiles

One of the more elegant and desired home improvement materials out there is granite. Granite is a natural stone that actually forms from hardened magma (liquid rock). Granite is incredibly hard, as it is composed of many different rock types, including quartz, feldspar, mica, and more. It can be used for many home improvement projects, and it is a popular choice for those who want to make a statement with their home. Thus, this article will discuss the basics of this elegant and beautiful, but expensive, material.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Granite

Granite has been used for centuries due primarily to its versatility and its strength. Granite is so hard that it will withstand almost anything your or nature can throw against it. Thus, it can be used for both outdoor applications and for indoor ones, as you won’t have to worry about the effects of weather or of messy children on your granite projects. Granite is also beautiful and value, and it makes a statement to any onlookers about your style and class.

There are a few drawbacks to granite that you need to know about. First, due to its hardness, it is not easy to cut the material, so your ability to customize the tiles on the fly is very limited. In addition, you will be relatively limited in the colors of granite available; however, this is a small price to pay for the beauty and quality you will receive when you use this material. Finally, as we’ll discuss later in this article, granite is notoriously expensive, so it shouldn’t be something you should go into debt over!

Note as well that granite is very heavy, so it may be difficult to work with if you don’t have the right skills, tools, and equipment. This is why, in most cases, installing granite tiles is not a simple DIY project and will require the services of a professional.

Projects With Granite – Esp. Granite Tile Flooring

Granite can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. In this article, we are going to focus mostly on the outdoor uses of the material in the form of tiles, but we must make a few notes about its use indoors. Granite tiles can be used for indoor flooring just as it is used for outdoor flooring. Granite can also be used for other structures in the home; perhaps the most popular are granite tile countertops. This is due in part to its resistance to heat, its strength, its durability, and its beauty. Note however that granite can stain due to its highly porous nature; thus, you will want to seal the surface with a water-based sealer to help prevent the stains from setting.

However, in this article we’ll be focusing mostly on the outdoor aspects of the material, and in particular its use in granite tile flooring. Granite can be used for many structures outside the home, including patios, walkways, walls, veneers, pool decks, garden and landscape structures, and much more. Note that you can also used granite tiles not just for flatwork (i.e. floors) but also for walls – you can use the tile for outdoor (and indoor) wall veneers to give the structure an elegant and natural look.

As with the indoor projects, you’ll want to make sure that the outdoor granite is sealed to prevent stains, especially if the granite will be used in an area that may be exposed to oils, paints, heavy dirt, etc.

Designing With Granite Tiles

One of the things you need to decide on when it comes time to deciding on your next granite project is the finish, or outward texture and appearance, of your granite. There are four main kinds. The first is polished, which is the smoothest and shiniest. Next is honed, also known as matte. It is also smooth, but it has a more complex texture than simple polished. Next come the last two, more textured varieties: flamed or brushed. These two varieties do not reflect much light at all, so they are not shiny, and they may have rougher, less elegant edges, sides, and backs.

The kind of finish you pick will depend on the project. In general, the flamed and brushed finished granite tiles are best for outdoor projects, such as walkways, benches, patios, external flooring, decks, and more. This is because they will be more slip resistant and will require less maintenance to keep up their beautiful appearance. The honed surface can also be used for indoor and outdoor flooring and sidewalks, so it can give you a good balance between smooth finish and durability. Finally, the smoothest, polished granite should be reserved for indoor applications, primarily counter tops, vanity    tops, and other three dimensional structures, though you may use these polished granite floor tiles for flooring that receives low daily traffic. Polished granite tiles are generally not recommended for bathroom flooring – this is because they will get slippery when wet, providing a significant safety hazard.

Granite tiles also come in a few shapes and sizes, but due to the hardness of the material, it is not at all easy or cheap to customize the size and shape of it. If you want something that you can modify on the fly, you’ll want to go with a softer natural stone or even concrete. Some common sizes include 12” x 12”, 16” x 16”, 18” x 18”, and 24” x 24”. Note as well that the thickness of the tile may also vary; common thicknesses include 3/8” and 1/2″.

Note that for some projects, you may have to have custom sized and shaped granite. This is possible to do, but you’ll have to work directly with a supplier or manufacturer to make it happen. You will also have to pay more for this than if you simply bought the material ‘as is.’

You’ll also have to decide on the granite colors you want to use for your project. In general, you will find colors in the range of blacks (such as black galaxy), greys, tans, blues (such as blue pearl), yellow, brown, and other natural colors. Note that getting consistent color within a pallet of granite can be challenging, as it is with any natural stone, so make sure you don’t rely on a picture only when making your color decisions, as the actual color of the material when it’s on the ground may appear very different.

Next, figure out the square footage of your project. In general, you’ll want to make sure you order plenty more above the square footage of your project, because you DO NOT want to be short in material. Getting replacement material that will match the texture and color of your granite will be very hard. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of granite tile edging – machine cut, smooth, or whatever – you need to finish the structure off, if this is something you need (particularly necessary for indoor projects).

One final note: don’t forget that you can get granite in other shapes than simply ‘tiles.’ One example of this different kind of material are granite pavers, described in this article on this site. Another example are granite slabs may be very useful for some outdoor and indoor installations, so consider that size as well when designing your project. Note that these slabs are much harder to work with, as they are relatively large (around 105” x 54” at the minimum) and can weigh hundreds of pounds each. Thus, this material may work best for large scale projects.

The Cost of Granite and Finding Granite Tiles for Sale

One of the biggest drawbacks of this material, as mentioned above, is its price. Granite is simply expensive, and it may not be as good of an investment as you may think or hear it to be. Granite tile prices, for just the material itself, may run you anywhere from $3 to $10 per square foot or more. The actual price will depend on the color, quality, finish, total square footage, and other factors. This price doesn’t even include the cost for shipping and installation, which could triple or more the total price per square foot. Thus, expect to pay in the neighborhood of $10 to $30 per square foot. I know this is a large range, but it’s so hard to give you an exact price given all the factors that could affect the final tally. Just know, going into your project, that you could be paying a decent chunk of change for your granite vision.

One of the main reasons for this high price is the transportation costs required to move the material from mine to factory and factory to your home. Granite is found all over the world, but you may end up ordering it from mines and factories in China, India, and Brazil. Thus, the high cost of this material is simply sunk, and lost, in these transportation costs.

Still, it may be worth it to do your homework when it comes time to find granite tile for sale. While you may not find discount granite tile, you may be able to get a cheap deal from one site for the exact same material that you find for a higher price on another. You will also want to consult your local mason supply yards and home improvement stores for local quotes, though you may find your best deals could be direct from manufacturers online. This is because shipping direct from manufacture sites will lower the cost of shipping, thus passing on the savings to you. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Craigslist; a homeowner demolishing an old granite installation may have some material left over to sell to you for reduced cost.

You may be tempted to go with super cheap granite to save a buck, but make sure you’re not compromising on quality. Make sure that your granite is, preferably, mined without dynamite or explosives, as this may cause invisible fractures in the material that could haunt you later. Make sure the granite is cut with water cooled, not kerosene cut. Make sure the quality and standards of the granite are properly controlled and inspected. If the granite passes these tests, then go for it, but if it doesn’t, you may want to hold back even though you think you’re getting a great deal. The deal may not be so great a few years from now when the granite starts to crack, rust, and give you problems.

Installing Granite Tiles

Granite tiles are generally laid or installed according to a ‘wet’ method. Unlike concrete pavers, you cannot simply lay them and compact them together with sand between the joints. You must use mortar and/or grout to hold them to the ground and to hold them together as one unit structure. While it is possible for a homeowner to install this material him or herself, in general its best for a specialized contractor to come in and do the work. This is because the quality of the project depends so much on the quality of the installation, and you don’t want to risk the big money that you’ll be spending on the material simply to try to save a few bucks on the installation end of the process.

A Travertine Tile Guide: What You Need to Know

What is Travertine Tile?

Before we discuss the tile, we need to discuss what they are actually made of. Travertine is a natural stone – a kind of limestone, to be exact – that is formed in mineral and hot springs. It occurs when carbonates rapidly precipitate (or fall out of solution) from the water, which then deposits and builds up to form the natural travertine deposits. Travertine can be found naturally in many places, though Italy is well known for these deposits. While Italian travertine is highly sought after, you can find travertine deposits in many areas of the United States. However, note that much of the travertine in the United States is imported, not only from Italy but from South America and the Middle East. Thus, the travertine will be shipped to whatever location it is needed, and the costs for this transfer may be higher as you move farther away from a mine or deposit.

Note that the formation of this stone means that the material is relatively soft compared to other stone. This doesn’t mean that you’ll see it cracking and breaking all the time, just that it may be prone to wearing away. In addition, the surface of the travertine may change its appearance as it wears and new holes and air pockets are revealed. There are ways to prevent this from occurring, which we’ll discuss in a bit when we talk about maintenance. Still, travertine, being a natural stone, will stand up well to all that nature and humanity can throw at it, so you’ll have an indoor or outdoor installation that will stand up well to the test of time – it’ll probably outlive you and your descendents!

Uses for Travertine Tiles

Travertine has been a popular building material throughout the ages. Given its presence in Italy, the Romans made heavy use of the material for temples, statues, fountains, bath complexes, theaters,  aqueducts, and even the Colosseum!

This stone is still used today for many other buildings – all you need to do is look around and you’ll probably find it everywhere! However, you are probably not interested in building a structure with travertine – that would be quite expensive – but instead using it for flatwork.

Let’s discuss the indoor variety first, as you don’t need to limit your use of travertine building material to outside projects! One popular use for this material is as flooring. Travertine tile flooring can be used in kitchens, entrance areas, and bathrooms – travertine tile showers are especially popular. Note that travertine can also be used for other structures and fixtures in the home, but we won’t be discussing them in this article.

Travertine tile and the other forms of this material can also be used for outdoor hardscape projects such as walkways, patios, garden paths, and the like. They are also popular for pools, given that they stay cool even in the harshest sun, and they are slip resistant so you don’t have to worry about anyone falling near the pool.

Travertine Tile Colors, Shapes, and Sizes

Travertine tiles can come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes to satisfy any project demands. Sometimes you may hear to this material referred to as ‘travertine limestone’ or ‘travertine marble,’ though technically this stone is a limestone and not a marble.

The first thing to realize is that this material is naturally derived – this means that the exact colors, shapes, and textures cannot be totally controlled. Obviously, cutting, selecting, and polishing can change the appearance of the material to a point, but if you’re looking for consistency in your building material when it comes to aesthetics, you may want to settle for a ‘manufactured’ product such as concrete pavers or other paving stones.

In addition, due to the natural development of this material, and due to wear over time, travertine will usually exhibit pits and troughs in the surface. If you like the way this looks, then you don’t have to do anything – the material will still be strong as ever. But if you want a smooth look, you can have the holes in the surface of the tile filled in with grout. This is why you can buy travertine in ‘filled’ or ‘unfilled’ varieties. If you really want the material smoothed out, you can get the tile ‘polished’ for a very clean and smooth finish. If you want an ‘aged’ or ‘weathered’ look, you can also find tumbled travertine tile. More rugged stone will be in the “chiseled and brushed” category, a kind of travertine that is best for outdoor projects, while “honed and filled” stone will be smoother and less maintenance, thus perfect for indoor applications.

Travertine, since it is quarried and removed from the mine, can be cut or shaped into whatever shapes, sizes, thicknesses, etc. that you need for you project. Note that custom formed travertine will cost more than getting the ‘standard’ sizes. As for the ‘standard’ sizes, it varies, going from somewhere as small as 4” x 4” to 6” x 6”, 12” x 12”, 16” x 16”, and 18” x 18”. Other sizes and shapes will also be available, so check with your manufacturer or supplier for a full menu of options. For instance, check out the ‘travertine pavers’ that I, even as the owner of Concrete Pavers Guide, would recommend!

The natural colors for travertine generally are white, tan, cream, and other related hues. However, you can get this material in other colors as well, from everything from grey to red. Thus, note that the colors and textures of the material will vary greatly, even within the same ‘kind’ of tile. Thus, don’t 100% trust the image of the tile that you may see on a website or in a photo – what the material looks like in real life may be very different, both due to how the material looks in the photo as well as the natural variation in the stone itself. Thus, you’ll want to peruse as many travertine options available to find the variety and style that’s just right for you and your home – there is no one size fits all option!

How to Install Travertine Tile

Travertine tile installation can be a DIY paving job for many homeowners as long as you are comfortable with ‘wet’ installations – using mortar and grout, that is. For the purpose of this article, we are going to assume that you are installing travertine tile floors – installing travertine patios, walkways, or three-dimensional structures will have other requirements! At this point, we are not going to give a full discussion of how to lay travertine tile, but we can give you the basics.

First, you’ll want to make sure that the underlying foundation is sound. Make sure to remove all flooring and subflooring to reveal the surface below. You may then have to prepare the surface to be ready to hold the weight of the tiles, such as adding cement backing to the floor. You may also use special “membranes” to help keep the structure together, manage water vapor, etc.

Next, inspect all the tiles to make sure they are in good condition before you lay them down. Sketch out the layout of the tiles with chalk lines. Make sure to leave some room for the grout when you do this. You may have to cut the tiles using a wet saw in order to get them to fit into corners or fit into the pattern you’ve selected; make sure the tiles are dry before you lay them. Then, apply the thinset adhesive to the underside of the tiles and lay them in the design you’ve drawn out. Let them sit for about a day, then apply the grout in between the cracks to hold the floor together strongly. You may then want to seal the tile immediately, though you should make sure to test the sealer on a small, hidden part of the floor to make sure it doesn’t damage the surface.

A Travertine Tile Cost Estimate

The price that you’ll pay for your travertine tile will vary widely, due to many different factors. We could write a whole article about this topic alone, but for now we’ll just settle for a general discussion of travertine tile price.

In general, expect a range anywhere from $2 – $5 per square foot, though sometimes you’ll find particular varieties closer to $10 per square foot. Note that these travertine tile prices does not include two major factors: shipping and delivery costs, which can cost just as much as the material, and installation costs, which can be high, due to the fact that installing travertine tile can be a challenge, as the material can be brittle until it is put into the ground. In addition, the tile must be laid by hand in the precise travertine tile patterns that are desired by the customer. You can expect this installation to run you another $3 – $4 per square foot, though this price will depend on a ton of factors too. Thus, all told, you may be looking at anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot for the laying of your travertine tile bathroom, shower, floor, patio, or whatever.

There is actually quite the market for travertine online, so if you are looking to buy travertine tile, especially for cheap, you may want to start there. This is especially important because you can avoid the ‘retail game,’ where you pay much more per square foot due to dealing with the ‘middleman.’ Your contractor may also help you find the material for a discount, as they may know where to find your choice of travertine tile for sale without having to go through the retail outlets.

Designing With Travertine

If you want some travertine tile design ideas, then look no further. Here are a few ideas that we’ve discovered or invented that you might find useful for your next project. Even if you don’t use them, at least it’ll get you thinking about the creative ways you can use this awesome material.

*One great aspect about travertine is that it can be used inside and outside, so why not make a seamless transition between an indoor party area and an outdoor patio, all using the same flooring?

*If you have the budget, consider mixing different kinds of natural stones, such as marble, slate, flagstone, and granite, to get the best balance of warm colors, natural, old-world charm, and beauty.

*Don’t limit your travertine tile bathroom ideas to simple floors – travertine can be used in showers, in basins, and in many other applications! This goes for the rest of your house, indoor and outdoor, as well.

*For 10 great travertine paving ideas, check out this article!

Maintenance of Travertine Tiles

Note that any natural stone will stand up well to the rigors of its environment, so constant maintenance won’t be needed. However, even a little amount of attention will go a long way in preserving the beauty, strength, and appearance of your tile. One great way to protect your stone is to get travertine tile sealer. Sealing travertine tile is almost a requirement, especially in bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor environments, due to the possibility of foreign substances hitting the ground. This will help protect the surface of the material from stains; being porous, travertine can often suck up stains very easily, making it hard to remove them. Sealer will help prevent the stain from setting deeply. This is also true about dirt – dirt can often be grinded into the surface of your travertine, especially in outdoor structures, so you’ll want to make sure the surface of your travertine is kept relatively clean. Never use acid cleaners on your project, as the acid will totally eat away and damage your travertine. (Remember, it’s made from calcium carbonates, and these don’t mix with acid at all!!)

In addition, if you are finding that your travertine is wearing away to an unacceptable degree, you can have it polished or honed to bring back the smooth finish.

A Patio Slabs Guide

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive and easy to install material for your new patio, patio slabs, also known as paving flags, may be just the ticket. In this guide, I hope to give you some of the basic information you’ll need to know when thinking about your next outdoor project using this material. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

The advantages of patio slabs are quite obvious – you enjoy the benefits of concrete (strength and durability) while not sacrificing much in terms of money for their installation and upkeep. The disadvantages, aside from aesthetics (how they look) are relatively few; for example, the large sizes may crack due to freeze-thaw cycles if they are not properly set on the subbase. The larger the slabs, the more likely they are to crack when the ground freezes and thaws, so keep this in mind when picking the size and shape of the patio slab for your next project. A few more disadvantages are mentioned below.

It should be noted that you can use these patio slabs on any other area in your house. Though we call them patio paving slabs, they can use for driveways, walkways, pool decks, gardens, and more. Garden paving slabs, for instance, are a great material to add to your landscape/hardscape partnership. In this article, we simply restrict ourselves to discussing their benefits for patios.

Types of Patio Slabs

Patio slabs are generally rectangular or square in shape, though other shapes may be available, such as circular and irregularly shaped. In general, if you are installing the slabs yourself, it’s best to go with the rectangular or square shapes, because they are the easiest to work with and install. The circular and irregular shapes are often used for stepping stone walkways and other more “natural” looking projects.

There are two ways to obtain patio slabs. The first is to simply buy them preformed or pre-made. This is relatively cheap, while also  easy to install, though you’ll be limited in the shapes that you have given the one kind you buy. The second way to get the slabs is to pour them with fresh concrete. With this method, they can be made on the job as needed. This provides you with custom slabs that you can use for your patio, so you won’t be boxed in to the ‘standard’ sizes.

Patio slabs come in many different kinds, sizes, shapes. In this article, we will focus mostly on the concrete variety. However, you can get slabs and many other materials. Natural stone is quite popular, while also being quite expensive. Examples of natural stone slabs include sandstone, granite, slate, and limestone.

Disadvantages of Slabs for Patios

There are few disadvantages of this material to be aware of. First, if you get in the regular concrete variety, they can be rather boring. They are gray and rather drab, so the are more utilitarian approach to creating your patio. If you pick natural stone, or at least colored concrete and other fancier varieties, expect to pay more for your material.

In addition, it may be very difficult to cut concrete paving slabs into the specific shape you want, so you may be relatively limited in the design options at your disposal. Pavers, on the other hand, can be cut and arranged in a variety of shapes and patterns. However, what you lack in design options will be made up for in the ease of installation of this material, and if you’re on a budget, you probably shouldn’t expect much in the way of luxury for your patio material anyway.

Finally, this material is relatively heavy compared to other materials if you get purchase them preformed. Thus, you may have to pay a high delivery charge if you cannot pick them up yourself. In addition, their heavy weight may make them difficult to deal with if you are installing them yourself, so be careful when working with the material.

How Much do Patio Slabs Cost?

One of the benefits of patio slabs (at least the preformed variety) is their relative inexpensiveness when compared to pavers and natural stone, such as travertine. This is because they come fully formed and ready to lay, so no pouring will be necessary. Pouring patio slabs isn’t that expensive either – it just requires some skills or the services of a contractor, which may up the price of the project. In addition, there relatively inexpensive to install, because there are fewer slabs to lay that if you had to lay the equivalent number of concrete pavers. Even though the price is lower, you’ll still enjoy many of the same benefits as paving stones, such as their ability to resist freeze/thaw cycles, while also enjoying the ease of installation and relatively lower price when compared to both poured concrete and pavers.

In general, expect to pay anywhere from $2 to $5 per square foot for the material and installation of the material – less if you are doing the work yourself. It will depend on the type of slab the purchase as well of any finishing and other tasks that need to be done to complete the work. Obviously, you will pay much more for natural stone and decorative kinds of concrete slabs.

Installing Patio Slabs

Concrete patio slabs lie in between poured concrete and concrete pavers on the scale of hardscape materials. Thus they combine both the virtues and drawbacks of each type of material – ultimately depending on whether you get the ‘pre-formed’ slabs or pour them yourself.

One of the great advantages of this material, however, is that it is relatively easy to install yourself regardless of the method you choose. Concrete pavers and paving stones have certain learning curve to them, as does poured concrete and hot asphalt. However, concrete slabs and their ilk are very forgiving to newbies. If you make a mistake, you can often simply just pick up and replace the offending slab. This may not be so true if you are using mortar and grouting to lay your slats, which is why I often suggest people to use a sand base just like you’d use for concrete pavers.

Of course, as with any hardscape installation, having a good subbase is critical to the lifetime survival of the project above. Make sure you have enough aggregate base below that has been compacted properly and is at an appropriate thickness, usually around 6 to 8 inches.

Once your base is ready, laying patio slabs is quite simple. Simply put them in the pattern or arrangement that you like, making sure that they are properly lined up with house other straight-line features of your landscape and home. In addition, make sure that your grades are correct, as you do not want any water flowing into your basement or other sensitive low-lying areas.

In fact, installing patio slabs much like installing concrete pavers, so for more detailed information on how to set up your project and do the work correctly, check out the installation section of this website. If you do end up hiring a contractor, and want more advice on how to secure the best one, check out this discussion on how to hire the best paver contractors – much of the same advice applies here.

If you want to know more specific details on how to lay patio paving slabs, contact a local contractor or home improvement store for more information. Or you could just leave some questions in the comments below!

How to Save Money on Patio Slabs

Since concrete is a popular material, it should be relatively easy to find cheap patio slabs. One way is to simply use reclaimed patio slabs that other homeowners have decided to get rid of. You can often find advertisements in online classified ad sites, like Craigslist, where homeowners will be advertising that they have slabs available for anyone who wants them. Often you can get them for free, as long as you come and pick them up yourself. Thus, if you’re looking for lowest prices possible for your materials, finding them in the secondary market is probably your best bet.

The usual way to get cheap paving slabs, if this above method doesn’t work, is to look at local home improvement stores and mason supply yards for patio slabs for sale. Obviously, you’ll want to shop around to find the best deal available. If you can buy them in the off-season, that is, in the fall and winter, you’re likely to get a better deal, so preparing ahead is probably the best way to make sure you save the most money possible.

Perhaps one of the cheapest ways, but most time-consuming, is making your own patio slabs out of fresh concrete. You’ll need to create the concrete patio molds and forms required to shape the slabs into whatever size you like. Once you do this, simply pour the concrete to fill the forms. If you don’t have much experience creating your own concrete, it’s best to do a little practicing first. Another thing you can do is pour the whole concrete patio as if you were doing a solid slab – you can then use boards or other materials to “cut” the larger slab into smaller pieces. Be careful with this method, though, because inexperience could get you into trouble if the job goes wrong.

A Landscaping Rocks Guide

When creating a new landscape, or sprucing up an old one, we usually think of the grass, soil, and other organics that usually define a landscape. But we also shouldn’t ignore the use of stone and other hardscape materials to increase the beauty of our landscape! One of the best materials to use for this purpose is the landscape rock. Landscaping rocks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and they can be used for a host of projects and design ideas. This article will give you a brief run-down of many of the landscaping rocks and stones that are out there.

Landscaping with rocks is more of an art than a science; there are pretty much an infinite number of ideas that you could fruitfully apply to your own home project! Hopefully it helps to stimulate your creativity and your own ideas!

Types of Landscaping Rocks

There are as many types of landscaping rocks as there are rocks and stone in the world. Thus, we’ll give you a quick rundown of some of the more popular stones out there so that you can get a general idea before you start your research. One great advantage of these stones is that they are nearly maintenance free. At most, you may have to remove weeds from the stone beds or rake the stones to keep them in order.

One popular kind of stone is river rock. They are smooth and round stones, and they are generally used to fill in areas where grass might normally be; they can also be used to surround beds and create borders between patios and fences. Really, this is the default stone you’d use if you’d want to lay down and kind of rock in your landscape, so if you just wnat something basic, start here. This stone is also great for drainage of water, so you can use it around pools, hot tubs, and in any area where you need water to drain quickly and with little hassle.

If you’re looking for larger, single pieces, consider boulders or decorative rock. You can either get real, natural stone, or fake, artificial stone. The latter is lighter, cheaper, and easier to work with, but may look ‘unnatural’ even in the best of conditions. However, this stone may be just right for your project and budget, so don’t discount it. These can be used as a decorative centerpiece to help break up an area, or they can serve a more functional purpose by covering up and blocking certain unsightly areas of your landscape.

If you want a kind of stone that is larger than river rock but still easier to work with, consider volcanic rock. This ‘lava rock’ is made from the expulsions of volcanos. It is porous and very light, and can thus be shaped into whatever forms you need. It is also a very cheap kind of stone, so many newbie landscape-homeowners may want to start out using this material at first to get their feet wet.

Don’t forget, as well, that you can use concrete pavers – in the form of landscape pavers and garden pavers – to add walkways, driveways, patios, stepping stones, borders, and other hardscape installations to your landscape to complement your landscaping rock choices.

While size and shape is important, don’t forget to consider color, as well. You’ll want to pick a stone that goes best (complements) your home’s color theme already, as well as the colors in your landscape and garden. The entire spectrum is covered by different stones, so you won’t be short on options.

Where Can Landscaping Stones Be Used?

The obvious places are quite clear to most homeowners – flowerbeds, gardens, and other borders cry out for these rocks. However, don’t forget the pool, hot tub, walkway, patio, driveway, and other aspects of your hardscape that can be brought in harmony with your new landscape. This site has tons of ideas in this area, so feel free to browse!

Ways to Use Decorative Landscaping Rocks

Obviously, how and where you can use this material is only limited by your imagination and budget. Here are just a few ways you can use this material to increase the beauty and function of your landscape:

One thing to do is to use these rocks for a border around your flowerbed, garden, or other landscape areas. They can separate these landscape installations from your lawn, patio, walkway, and so on.

Another use for small stones and gravel is as a place to walk. It’s a great way to lay down a ‘hardscape’ without having to get involved in installation of concrete pavers or other materials. You can either have large stepping stones in the center of your rock path, or just settle for the small rocks by themselves. Realize, however, that this will require some maintenance, as the stones will often get kicked up and spread out of their original location (into your lawn, flowerbed, etc.).

Don’t forget using large stones or boulders as well. You can lay down a single large boulder in a central area of your landscape, or you can use more than one to create a mound or other attractive installatio. This is where your artistry and creativity can come through; a boulder installation can be a great eye-catcher and would be the centerpiece of your lawn.

You can also just skip soil altogether and use the stones for the base of your flowerbeds and garden. You’ll obviously need good topsoil underneath to provide a nice foundation for your plants, flowers, and shrubs, but you can then lay small stones or gravel on top of the bed to highlight colors or simply give the installation a unique look. This may also be a great idea if you are having problems with water drainage or mud in that particular area.

If you really want to go all out, you can also jsut use rocks throughout your entire yard. Instead of having a lawn, use rocks; instead of a driveway, use rocks; instead of a flowerbed with top soil, use rocks. In some areas this looks very nice, particulary where the land is very dry, but it can also be a pain to maintain at times. It will require regular maintenance to keep it looking clean and in order.

The Cost of Landscaping Rocks

The prices of landscaping rocks depend on a large number of factors. The primary factor is the kind of rock you’ll get, of course.

If you buy smaller stones, like river rock, you’ll pay per ‘yard,’ or by the square foot, depending on the stone you select. For instance, river rock can go from $20 to $30 per ton or higher, though the size of the rock matters here. Don’t forget transportation and delivery costs, too! Exact costs will depend on the kind and color of your rock as well, in addition to the costs associated with your location.

If you go for larger stones, like boulders, the price will depend on the size and kind of stone you select. Artificial or decorative boulders can go from $30 to $100 and up per boulder.

In addition, any special features of your stones, such as if they are artificially colored, may inflate the costs.

Tips on Finding Landscaping Rocks for Sale

Your first bet is to go to a landscape supply yard, mason supply yard, or home improvement store, and price out the options available. Obviously, some places will be less expensive than others, so to find cheap stone, you’re going to have to do a bit of shopping. Luckily, most of these projects can be done ‘DIY,’ so you won’t have to pay a contractor to come in and do the work. However, large scale projects may require the services of a landscaper, and he or she will often include the costs of the material in the total price, so be sure to check the estimate before committing to any bid.

If you want a deal, consider getting ‘used’ material. It’s even possible to get free stones by checking sites like Craigslist, where fellow homeowners may be getting rid of material that they no longer need due to the demolition of an old project around their home.

Don’t rule out scrounging around yourself, either! Stones are natural objects, so you may find them by simply walking around in local parks, forests, and other natural locations. Of course, this options works best with larger stones and boulders, but you should always keep your eyes peeled for exciting and interesting pieces that you can add to your home! This is the best way to bring a little bit of nature back to your landscape.

Want to Buy Brick Pavers? Read This First

If you are starting a new DIY paving project in your front or backyard of your home, such as a patio, walkway, driveway, and more, and you are using brick pavers, you are probably here because you are interesting in buying brick pavers for your project. However, before you buy brick pavers, there are a few things you should know. This includes the prices you’ll pay, how to save money on your pavers, and other options that are available to you if you find brick to be too expensive or not appropriate for your project.

Types of Brick Pavers

Unlike their cousins (concrete pavers and natural stone pavers), there aren’t as many options available when it comes to colors, shapes, and sizes of brick. Most will come in the ‘standard’ brick size. As a result, your patterns and designs will be somewhat limited, especially when compared to other options. Due to the hardness of the clay, it is difficult to cut them into the shape you want, so you should use brick pavers only if you want the traditional look of laid brick.

In addition, there are fewer colors of brick available than what’s available in concrete and stone. If the brick goes with your decor, then this probably doesn’t matter to you, but keep in mind that there are other options available to you if you want to explore other designs. (See the discussion below for some leads.) You will see red brick as the most common, though browns, blacks, and other colors are possible.

However, you might also find that these limitations are useful in that they make it easier for you to make your selections. Before you begin your research, you should narrow down the shape, size, and color of the brick you want. This will help you during the research process, though you will not be that hindered if you go into it unprepared.

The Costs of Brick Pavers

Note that much of this discussion of costs depends on the square footage of your project, so be sure to measure that out before you do your research. Realize as well that you’re going to be buying more brick than you need, both for cuts and for wasteage.

For the material, you will pay around $5 to $15 per square foot. The exact pavers cost relies on so many factors that it’s hard to pin down an exact one for you given your different areas and needs. Just know that if you get pavers on the low end of this scale, you’re getting a pretty good deal. Note that concrete pavers are a cheaper option, so if budget matters, consider looking into these.

How to Save Money on Clay (Brick) Pavers

When it comes to saving money on clay pavers, it’s all about knowing where to buy brick pavers in the first place. Here’s a listing of the best places, both offline and online, to do that.

You should always start with the usual suspects when it comes to home improvement – stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. They will have a limited selection in types and colors, though, and you may not get the best prices through these sources. Thus, just use these bricks and prices as a guideline.

If these places don’t have the brick you want and need, you should try mason supply yards next. This is a requirement if you need a large number of brick. If you just need a few for some stepping stones or garden border, a home improvement store is probably fine. But if you are constructing a patio or walkway and need them by the pallet, you will definitely need to go with a mason supply yard or other materials supplier.

You can also check with online companies for discounts and other good deals. Note, however, the importance of geography here: you might find a great deal on brick pavers but actually end up paying more due to high shipping costs. In general, it’s best to stay as local as possible, since the shipping costs will be lower and already factored in to the price you’ll pay. Note though that you’ll also have to pay a delivery charge to have the brick brought to your home, though if you have a big vehicle you could transport them yourself.

Probably the best ‘underground’ option is to check out classified ad sites like Craigslist. Many homeowners rip out old brick walkways, driveways, and other projects, but don’t want to pay for the disposal of the brick. They then post them for free, or at least a nominal charge, on craigslist. As long as you can come and pick them up, they’re yours. Granted, you’ll have to get lucky with the color, type, and condition of brick you get, but this is a phenomenal way to get an amazing deal on used brick.

Another way to save money is to get ‘thin brick’ and lay it over an existing concrete slab. Thin pavers over concrete should only be done  if the slab below is in good condition; if it cracks, you may have a problem with the surface of the paver project over time.

Finally, the other major way to save money on your pavers is to install them yourself. If you pay a contractor for installation, you will pay much more for the project above and beyond the materials costs. Thus, if you have any skill and willingness to do the work yourself, consider doing as much of hte work as you can. Of course, if there are certain parts of the project that are beyond your skill, consider hiring out subcontractors for those portions of the project.

NOTE: Don’t buy regular bricks that you’d use for walls or facing! These are actually different than ‘brick pavers,’ which are made to withstand soil and water. Regular brick will fall apart if you use them for these ground applications.

Other Options

If you have your heart set on interlocking pavers, realize that there are other types out there beyond brick, types that may actually turn out to be better for your budget and your project. Check out concrete pavers as the main alternative option when it comes to paving stones. If budget isn’t an issue, than natural stone pavers can be a wonderful addition to your home.

Granite Pavers: What You Need to Know

If you are looking for a very strong material for your next hardscape project – driveway, walkway, patio, and the like – look no further than granite pavers. If you create your project out of this material, you can expect it to outlast you, your children, your grandchildren…frankly, the material is pretty much indestructible. Suitable for any use – for both structures and for decorations – granite goes with nearly any decor, home style, and theme.

Granite is a type of natural stone paver that is quarried in nature. It is made up of three components: mica, feldspar and quartz. This material is actually magma, or lava, that has cooled and hardened. Obviously, since it is a natural stone with durable properties, it will resist all weathering and abuse that it can be subjected to. Think about it – do you often see mountains and other stone structures eroding away in your lifetime?

Indeed, granite has been in use for millenia by many peoples for the buildings, monuments, and other structures they’ve built. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, for instance, were well-known granite users. If you see an old or antique monument or statue, it’s very likely that granite was involved somewhere in its construction.

Types of Granite

Generally speaking there are five types of granite pavers you can purchase. Polished is the standard kind – it gives off a smooth and almost glassy look. The next is honed – this is less shiny and more ‘colorful,’ in that it brings out the natural qualities of the material. Diamond 8 and Diamond 10 change the quality of stone’s external appearance in terms of color and texture. The final type, thermal or honed, creates a rough finish on the granite, making it perfect for applications where people will be walking.

Uses for Granite Pavers

Granite pavers can be used for nearly anything inside and outside the home. From walkways and driveways to patios and pool decks, granite pavers can do anything due to their strength and beauty. Granite can also be used for statues, decorations, and indoor applications. Since these paving stones are not slippery when wet, they make a great pool deck or patio.

Designing with Granite

You can lay these brick in many different patterns, just like you can with concrete and brick pavers. Sample types include herringbone, running bond, and basketweave, all at different angles and with different borders. In addition, irregular patterns are also possible, along with other patterns dependent on the shapes of the stones. For instance, most homeowners use square or rectangular pavers, but other shapes, like octagons, can give other potential paving stone patterns. If you get special kits, you can also create fans and circles.

Benefits of Granite Pavers

As with other stone materials, granite is incredibly hard and tough. Thus, it will not be easily scratched, chipped, or damaged, even by the roughest conditions and abuse. Even if the paver are somehow damaged, you can easily remove and replace them as long as you haven’t used mortar to install them. In addition, the amazing polish given to the granite will also last a long time regardless of the surrounding conditions. Granite is also very prized after for its looks – in fact, you’ll pay more money for granite that looks the nicest since these types are rare. Given the stone’s amazing pedigree, you can be sure that adding granite to your home will add an old-world, ancient, and refined look to your hardscape and landscape.

Granite Pavers Colors

Granite pavers come in a variety of colors, everything from white through black granite. Some colors are rarer than others, and are thus used for statues, decorations, and monuments, and thus may be more expensive than the more common materials. Many of these granite pavers are also given a nice polish that will last for many years, keeping the colors vibrant and deep.

Installation

Installation of granite pavers proceeds just like the installation of other paving stones. A sub-base is laid and compacted, followed by a sand layer, and then by the pavers. Joint material, like sand, is then spread between the joints, edges are placed around the project, and the entire surface is compacted. More details can be found on other parts of this site.

Granite Maintenance

Due to its strength and durability, you won’t have to do much maintenance to keep it looking great. You might consider sealing your granite installation, mostly to protect it against stains and to keep the colors vivid and ‘new’ for a longer period of time, but this is certainly not required if you have neither the time nor money.

Granite Pavers Price

The cost of granite pavers will be quite high – in fact, this is perhaps the most expensive material you can work with, not counting the high installation costs due to their heaviness and bulkiness. Expect to pay anywhere in the range of $10 to $60 per square foot for full installation. The type and cost of the pavers you obtain will depend on the suppliers in your area and what they have available for you, as well as the color and grade of granite you want. New stone is quarried all the time so new colors and new types of granite are constantly appearing, making it difficult to give blanket prices you might expect to pay. Note, of course, that since you’ll never have to install a new driveway, patio, etc. again, you’ll be saving money over the lifetime of the installation. Thus, this savings will reduce the total cost of the project when you consider how often you’d have to replace or repair concrete, asphalt, and other materials. You can also save money by getting recycled granite pavers if they are available in your area.

Limestone Pavers: What You Need to Know

Limestone pavers are a natural stone paver and have been very popular for construction for over a century. It is a sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate and sometimes silt and clay. This stone, like all natural stone, is quarried and cut into the shapes necessary for construction. The material enjoys its place as a favorite for builders of many kinds – the rock is used for buildings, roads, and even for residential paver applications whenever a very hardy and durable material is needed. The material is also used inside homes for various unique applications. most notably floors in many residential and commercial buildings. Limestone is actually a component of other building materials, like cement, concrete, and plaster.

Using Limestone Paving Stones

Since limestone can be customized to order for whatever project you conceive, you and a contractor and/or designer can work closely to create the limestone installation that’s right for your needs. Homeowners use the material for many purposes. Aside from pavers, other people use limestone for curbs and veneers.

Many homeowners like to create hardscape projects with limestone, creating walkways, patios, pool decks, and pool coping with the material; limestone goes well with many landscaping designs and styles. Additional outdoor structures, like arches, fire pits, seats, tables, and fountains can also be made out of the material. Other builders and homeowners use them indoors for tables, fireplaces, and vanities. Since the material can be cut and shaped however needed, the design possibilities are truly only limited by imagination and budget.

In terms of aesthetics, limestone pavers and building materials give off a natural, elegant look, much like other natural stone products. Because they are not manufactured, each brick will be different from the next. While this is a strength for the material and a source of its unique beauty, others may desire a more regular look for their materials and thus be better off with manufactured options. Some may have ‘natural impurities’  that cannot be prevented. This includes ‘veining’ and ‘speckling.’ These specks are what give the material its charm, but for others it can be annoyance. If these types of impurities bother you, make sure you see what this material looks like in person before committing.

Limestone mixes and matches well with nearly any other hardscape and landscape materials, so go ahead and see how your natural stone can mix with concrete pavers, brick pavers, other natural stones, and poured concrete.

Limestone Pavers Designs

One of the important decisions to make when using this material is deciding what shape of limestone pavers you want to use. Of course, the standard sizes are available, but if you use your imagination and creativity, you can come up with others. For example, hexagons, octagons, circular shapes, and even irregular shapes can all go well when perfectly coordinated with the project’s dimensions and design specifications. One way to get ideas is to find pictures of patios and other hardscape projects that you like. Take these pictures to your nearest limestone suppliers or contractors and see what they can do for you.

In general, the large the area you’re paving, the larger bricks you should use. Similarly, the smaller the area you’re paving, the smaller bricks you should use. This will ensure that the paved area will look right no matter what the size.

The colors of limestone pavers also vary depending on the manufacturer and type you purchase. Colors include blues, greys, tans, and whites; some even have tints of red and pink and orange and brown! Truly you can get limestone in any color depending on what other substances are contained in the stone. It’s very hard to put natural stone, including limestone, into color categories for this reason. It’s better to take a lot at actual product samples with a general ‘class’ of colors in mind that you may be interested in using. Always look at real life product samples before committing, because even the best images may not faithfully translate what the brick look like in real life. If you want pavers that are guaranteed to be more regular in color and consistency, you’ll want to go with manufactured options like concrete pavers.

Limestone Pavers Installation

Note that one must use a mortar bed and joints in order to properly hold together. This material does not interlock like concrete paving stones do. If you are not experienced with working this material, it’s best to hire a contractor to do the job right. If you have the skills and experience, installing limestone pavers is certainly something that a DIY homeowner can do.

Limestone Pavers Maintenance

Because the stone is porous, limestone does well with heavy amounts of water, allowing the water to drain easily. In addition, these pavers are slip-resistant, so they are great for pool applications. Limestone does not stand up well to acidic materials and environments, so they should be sealed if you expect they will come in contact with any of these substances.

Limestone Pavers Cost

Limestone is a very heavy duty stone, and as such it is expensive, again like all natural stone pavers.

Garden Paving Slabs: What You Need to Know

Adding garden paving slabs and garden pavers to your garden is a great way to enhance the look and feel of your creations. The mixture of stone and concrete, made by the hands of humanity, meshes well with the beauty of plants produced by nature.

The benefits of garden paving are enormous. The aesthetic benefits are obvious but no less important – you can frame and highlight the features of your garden that you like, perhaps providing visitors with a path to wander through your landscape. The other benefits are functional – you can provide a path for you to walk through or wheelbarrow through or move materials through that will not get muddy or dirty in any way, preserving the beauty and order of your garden.

Types of Garden Paving Slabs

Every garden paving slab is different, as they come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The first major choice you need to make is on the material of the paving slab. Concrete paving slabs are a very popular option, as they are cheaper than others, last long, and look great besides. Others pay extra to get natural stone paving slabs, giving their garden a natural look in the process. There are many different types of stone, from sandstone pavers and bluestone pavers to granite pavers and marble, each with its own benefits and design possibilities.

Before you select the material of paving slab, find out the specific properties of the type you’ve picked, as they all will react differently to the elements. While some may lose their fade and their finish over time, others will look ‘new’ longer. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on the look you want for your project. A weathered, aged look could look great in some places but terrible in others, while a new installation can look weird in other projects. It all depends on the specifics of your application.

Garden slabs also come in a variety of colors depending on the needs you have for your garden, landscape, or other hardscape features. There are different finishes you can select as well, from rough to smooth, depending on the look you want to portray. In addition, some paving slabs can be made with imprints or etchings, either stock or custom. As you can see, there are a ton of things to consider when purchasing these slabs. You will have many options whether you pick concrete or natural stone slabs, so ultimately it will be up to you to make the choice

Whatever your tastes, pick the type of slabs that best fit your needs for the garden’s traffic, looks, and design requirements. No matter what you pick, however, you largely won’t go wrong.

Installing Garden Paving Slabs

Installing paving slabs is similar to installing other hardscape materials like paving stones and concrete flags. Many homeowners will benefit from getting these slabs professionally installed, especially if the install area is troublesome in some way. Other homeowners should be able to install them by themselves, however, for only a little work and expense. More information on installing pavers can be found here.

Some garden paving slabs are installed like concrete pavers, as they are made to interlock and be compacted close together. These should be installed on an aggregate and sand base like concrete pavers or natural stone pavers would be. Others however could be installed with large gaps in between, gaps to be filled with grass or dirt of some kind. Still others could be installed like stepping stones, with very little connection and much material lying between each slab. The choice is up to you.

When installing them in your garden, consider the possibilities for expanding their use to other parts of your yard. For instance, using them in your driveway, backyard patio, walkway, pool deck, and other areas may be a great way to spread your designs further, while also maximizing the efficiency and lowering the cost of installing the hardscaping overall.

Note that these slabs can be very big. This is great for installation, as it requires fewer brick to cover a certain area. However, moving these heavy slabs can be challenging for one person, so assistance may be required to safely manipulate the material.

Maintenance of these slabs, if they are installed correctly, is quite easy, as they will last many years without serious work. Periodic sealing can help keep them looking new for a long time, and a slab can be easily replaced if it is cracked or stained. Sweeping and washing down with water can help prevent stains and dirt from marring the surface, though sometimes that look may be desired depending on the project.

Garden Paving Slabs Ideas

If you are inclined towards design, you can certainly design your garden paving area yourself. However, you may also hire a contractor or designer to design the ideal project for your space. Here are some general ideas to spur your creativity and get you started:

You have many options about the pattern of hardscaping you lay down. Ultimately the pattern options available to you will depend on the sizes and shapes of the paving slabs you select. You can pick more regular patterns, based on regular shapes, or you can pick irregular patterns made up of a variety of shapes or paving slabs that are themselves cut irregularly.

A walkway is a great way to lead guests through your garden. If you’d like, use an irregular pattern and put bigger landscape pavers in places where you want people to ‘stop and smell the roses’ – in other words, places where you’d like people to stop and admire your handiwork.

You could also consider using garden paving slabs as patio slabs in the middle of your garden. It’s easy to make a fire pit or barbecue too, and even add a waterfall in the area, to complete the look and provide you with a great place to gather and relax.

You could also use the paving slabs as a border between different areas of your garden. This can serve both an aesthetic and a functional purpose.

Garden Paving Slabs Price

The price you’ll pay for the product will depend on a number of factors, most notably if you buy concrete or natural stone pavers, among many other factors that have been well documented on other parts of this website. If concrete is poured to form slabs on site, the price will be still lower, though this will probably require professional installation unless you have experience working with concrete.

The Facts About Bluestone Pavers

One great choice for a home hardscape project is bluestone pavers. Bluestone is a natural stone paver, mined directly in the United States. Natural stone pavers and building supplies add a natural, ‘ancient’ appeal to any indoor or outdoor space. This article will discuss some of the properties of bluestone pavers, how they are used and installed, and their cost.

The Properties of Bluestone Pavers

The natural color of the bluestone is, of course, blue, with some grey mixed in as well. Bluestone pavers do also have other hints of color in them beyond blue and grey, depending on where the stone was found, but all colors give a nice natural feel to a project. Though there is some uniformity in some types of bluestone in terms of size and texture and shape, they are still not totally uniform like manufactured bricks like concrete pavers. Thus, since each stone is different, every installation made using this product will be different and unique. The paving stones are so nice and versatile that they can be made to fit in with any home style, theme, or design, and can match or complement other features of your land and hardscape.

Like other natural stone products, bluestone pavers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is because the stone is obtained whole in the ground, and it is then transported to manufacturers and factories which cut it down to specified sizes. This is, in part, what makes bluestone so useful, as it can be customized to fit any job or desire. The possible shapes of these pavers range from rectangular, triangular, oblong, diamond, and irregular. The shape that you select will ultimately impact the paver patterns that you can lay the bluestone in – for instance, Holland stone pavers can be laid in Herringbone patterns, while diamond pavers have fewer pattern options available.

Uses for Bluestone

Due to their strength and versatility, bluestone pavers can be used for a variety of projects and uses aside from hardscaping. Some use bluestone paving stones as veneers for homes, businesses, or gardens. Some even build houses or other buildings out of bluestone. Many people also use bluestones for paving purposes, such as a new walkway, patio, driveway, or garden area. Some use them for steps, retaining walls, and pool decks and copings. They can be used nearly for any purpose, making bluestone a very popular product. It can be the main ingredient in a new project, or it can be used to add accents and flairs to a project made from a different material, indoors or out. Bluestone can be found in very flat and smooth “slate” varieties to large brick or coping shapes, depending on the wants and needs of the homeowner.

One popular use for bluestone pavers is for landscaping. Due to the flexibility and variety of stone shapes and sizes, bluestone landscape pavers can be used to spruce up any back or front yard, as well as incorporated into a garden or other landscape.

There are a number of varieties and modifications of the bluestone paver. For those looking to install bluestone in an area with high foot traffic, look for thermally treated bluestone that will make them less slippery. Another variety is ‘natural cleft,’ which makes the pavers look not uniform and thus more ‘natural,’ rather than the smoother, more uniform finish found in the standard kind.

Installation of Bluestone Pavers

A great benefit of the bluestone paver is its strength. Because it is made of stone, it will resist damage both from extreme weather and from the environmental stresses you put upon it. Still, it may be necessary to apply sealer to it every once in awhile, as weather and other erosion effects can wear away some of the natural colors of the stone. Water, in particular, can have damaging effects on the color of the pavers. Sealing your installation will also help guard the structure against other stains and dirt, maintaining its beauty for years to come. The integrity of the material, however, will not be compromised by these effects.

Bluestone pavers are installed much like concrete pavers are installed – they are laid on an aggregate base and a sand bed. The joints between the pavers are then filled with a joint material, usually sand, and they are then compacted. Like concrete pavers, bluestone can be a viable DIY project for many homeowners, though many will benefit from hiring a contractor to do the job right.

The Cost of Bluestone Pavers

Bluestone pavers price can be somewhat prohibitive, however. This is true for all stone pavers, whether sandstone, travertine, slate, or whatever. Manufactured pavers, like concrete and brick, are less expensive because they can be mass produced in house, while bluestone pavers must be quarried. However, if you can handle the cost of bluestone pavers, you will be sure to enjoy the beauty and strength of your new installation. You can expect to pay around $20 to $30 per square foot installed, though this price depends on so many factors it’s impossible to list them all here.