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Whether you’re looking to make a bold statement or unify a building with its surroundings, the landscape material you choose is instrumental in setting the appropriate tone for residential and commercial projects.
Making informed decisions about your patio or landscaping project starts with understanding what types of landscape stone and other options are available, and what those materials have to offer. Balancing the pros and cons of these four popular choices will help you determine the best fit for your needs:
1. Decomposed Granite
Comprised of small “pebbles”of granite ranging in size from sandy granules to about 1/4," decomposed granite creates a pebbled surface. The slight crunch it provides under foot is often appealing, and its ability to absorb water makes for a virtually puddle-free environment. Since it is not a solid surface, decomposed granite also presents a couple of challenges. The legs of heavier patio furniture and fixtures, for example, will sink into the stones even if stabilizers are added to the pebbles to provide strength. Plus, it will eventually erode on walkways, patios and other landscape installations exposed to regular use. Expect to “refresh” decomposed granite every three years or so.
Easily assimilated into almost any setting, brick can offer everything from Old World charm to contemporary pizzaz depending on the presence of other hardscape elements like wood, and the pattern in which its laid, like herringbone, traditional or a host of custom designs. Since brick is kiln-fired, it is extremely tough and the classic tan or reddish color isn’t susceptible to fading.
Brick’s durability comes with a caution, however. The edges of the individual blocks — particularly the corners — may chip over time if not beveled prior to installation. Plus, the porosity of the shale-clay composition of brick often retains moisture, leading to cracking in colder climates or moss growth in warmer temps that requires regular removal with a scrub brush. Laying a brick pathway or patio can be a do-it-yourself project if you have access to a brick saw, but you may want to hire a pro to ensure blocks are beveled and placed for maximum life.
Affordability and versatility are the hallmarks of concrete, since the inexpensive and readily available material can be formed, colored and finished in a variety of ways for use in driveways, patios and walkways. However you choose to add your own style — stamping the surface to get a cobblestone look or broom-brushed texture, or adding a vibrant color — it’s smart to hire a pro who will use the required pouring forms and subgrade and drainage layer preparation. Concrete can be laid as pavers, too, which offers customization at a budget-friendly price.
Whether poured or pavers, keep in mind that concrete can crack due to being undercured during installation, improper drainage or a lack of staying current with applying sealant every other year. Custom colors also have a tendency to fade from exposure to the elements, or wear in highly trafficked areas.
Natural stone, like Type III dolomitic limestone, isn’t a mixture of components. It is 100% nature-made, quarried and cut from sedimentary rock. The colors, textures and characteristics of limestone simply can’t be duplicated, which gives you assurance that your project is truly one of a kind. Plus, using limestone pavers may be safer than other options. Say, for example, you’re choosing pavers for a swimming pool area. While concrete may get slippery when wet and brick can absorb sunlight and easily become uncomfortably hot to the touch, limestone does not. Type III dolomitic limestone can be finished to provide a beautiful yet slip-resistant surface, and it’s naturally solar reflective so it stays cool to the touch even in direct sunlight.
Also, unlike other materials, Type III dolomitic limestone can easily withstand freeze-thaw cycles so there’s less likelihood of displacement and cracking, plus it is resistant to damage from salt deicers and other harsh chemicals used to combat ice build-up in winter — adding up to year round beauty and durability.
As you explore materials for your patio or landscaping project, the highest grade limestone will likely move to the top of your list. Learn more about the benefits in the Homeowner’s Guide to Successful Natural Stone Projects. Click the button below to access your copy now!