Backyard Building Materials for Longevity and Aesthetic Appeal Pt. 2: Hardscape Materials

By Jordan Swift

Wooden decks are not the only mainstay feature of backyards. Many yards do not have wooden porches at all. Instead, home and business owners opt for a concrete or stone patio. Concrete, natural stone, brick, and other hardscaping materials are common materials used throughout the backyard. 

Dimensional flagstone is secured with concrete to a drain pan underneath the polished beach pebbles on Urban Courtyard. Each channel drain is set up to pull water away from the home and the hardscape.

Hardscaping is utilizing hard materials, like stone, to landscape rather than grass or other softer landscaping options. This is a significant trend this year, especially in areas prone to drought. Hardscaping is an amazing option for small spaces, like in our Urban Courtyard Project, where we used a variety of hard materials to maximize and modernize a small space.

Hardscaping usually consists of two primary material-types: pavers and fillers. The pavers are larger and make up the bulk of the design, and the fillers fill everything in between. 

Concrete pavers are a favorite amongst DIY homeowners. They are cost-effective and come in a variety of colors and shapes. They are also simple to lay and create beautiful walkways and patios. You can easily transform the look of concrete pavers with stamps or stains, making them look more dynamic.  

The most significant benefit to concrete is its cost and ease of use. Concrete pavers are incredibly DIY-friendly, and they are priced around $13-20 per square foot.  

Flagstone pavers are another stellar option for patios because they have a unique and organic appearance. They are a little on the pricey side at $15-$30 per square foot. If you are interested in pavers that fall somewhere between concrete and flagstone, slate pavers are a happy medium of the two options. 

Another option for pavers is brick. Brick gives a more pristine appearance than some of the more natural alternatives. If you like colonial-style motifs, bricks are an ideal option. They are priced at $14-$20 per square foot and not very DIY-friendly, but there is no real substitute to brick. 

Another interesting paver option is something called permeable paving. While all pavers have a certain level of permeability (ability to absorb water), permeable pavers are a newer type of paver which is designed specifically to absorb water in the same way the ground does. Permeable pavers are a fantastic option if you live in an area prone to flooding. They are a bit expensive, but they are worth the extra investment to keep your lawn’s water under control. TLC Gardens utilizes permeable hardscape materials at every possible opportunity to aid in sustainable directing water on site and thus protecting our watershed.

There are several other paver types–mostly different variations of natural stone. Ultimately, like wood, the right paver type for you comes down to budget and aesthetic preferences. Let’s talk a bit about the filler materials. 

In all hardscape areas on Western Exposure, design solutions were developed to allow for permeable hardscape segments and water retention on the site. Various hardscape materials were implemented to create multiple patios, terraces, and areas of activity.

The most common hardscaping filler material is something called pea gravel. Pea gravel is made of smooth, earth-colored stones that are about the size of peas. They sell for around $6-$10 per square foot, but they are a breeze to incorporate into hardscaped areas. You simply pour them in and enjoy their charming effect. 

One of our favorite materials here at TLC is something called recycled road base. We are passionate about using sustainable materials especially because there are so many amazing options out there. Recycled road base is a composite material comprised of crushed stone, concrete, and asphalt. It is essentially recycled road material, so it is cost-effective and fantastic for sustainability practices, so we love to use it as filler materials in walkways, patios, and hardscaping projects. 

Sand, aggregate, and mulch are also common filler materials. Aside from hard materials, there are many other mainstay substances in backyard projects. We will discuss them in the final part of this series, so stay tuned for the next blog!

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

Backyard Building Materials for Longevity and Aesthetic Appeal is a series by Jordan Swift. Read the previous part of the series here: Part 1 – Wood